“Wipe That Smug Look off Your Face”

I love the reflection off Basement Lake in the morning.

“Wipe that smug look off your face” was one of my father’s go-to sayings. I hated to be humbled. Still do. But my heavenly father is also in the humbling business, so I’ve learned to, well, not like it, but at least learn from it.

This spring was one of our area’s floodiest ever (if “floodiest” isn’t a word, it should be). Still, we chuckled complacently when civic alarms went off because we live on one of the highest hills in Cincinnati (named for Cincinnatus, hero of Rome, city of the seven hills). So, no flooding, right? Wrong. Because, unlike when we lived in Southern California, we now have a beautiful…


After the umpteenth major clean-up, and sending our immutably drenched carpet to that big carpet pad in the sky, we finally hired someone to do expensive, permanent (?) repairs: a new sump pump and an elaborate French drain system (“Sacré bleu! Thees should feex eet!”). Because the funds were finally available to do so.

So what’s the take-away? Well, for starters: compassion. Our little inconvenience is infinitely small compared to what those who experience real disasters endure, the sudden erasure of everything they thought was permanent: their homes, their livelihood, their community, their lives.

I hate to be humbled, but I know real life experiences teach us more than any TV or internet coverage ever could. God, help me to never lose my empathy, my connection to others. Prompt me to step up and inconvenience the hell out of myself whenever the need (sorry, make that privilege) of helping others arises. Thank you for the reminder, God.

And sorry about the smugness.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to “Wipe That Smug Look off Your Face”

  1. I feel your pain! My husband feels it even more. He has been spending his “retirement” working dawn to dusk making changes in our basement floor that only an engineer would have known how to fix. (He has a PhD in civil engineering.)
    Sump pump, of course, and a layer of grid-like stuff (not sure the technical term – what do I know? I majored in theater) and another layer of nice new tile that looks like marble. Water comes in, flows under the new floor, and gets pumped back out. Of course. we also had to get a generator, so that when our neighbors’ huge dead tree that they refuse to have cut down falls onto the power line and the power goes out, our house doesn’t collapse in a lake of frustration.
    (If I had married another theater major, we’d probably be homeless by now.)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. HAT says:

    Having never had a basement lake, but having had a couple of basement winter waterfalls … empathizing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. smzang says:

    “I love the reflection off Basement Lake in the morning”

    I love the resilience, the humility, the empathy. It could not have
    been a great time for you and yours, but you turned it to praise
    and service. ‘Nuf said…That sound you hear is applause.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Erika Kind says:

    Oh, I am sorry you have to deal with a basement flooding. I can only imagine the pain it causes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. anitashope says:

    There are a lot of us this spring that had a lake in our basement. Took us two full weeks to fully dry out. Sympathies.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So sorry about the flooding even if it was character building!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. nancyehead says:

    So true, Mitch! When we face inconveniences, we can always remember those who are truly suffering. God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. revruss1220 says:

    So sorry to hear it. That is not a fate I would wish on my worst enemy. Best of luck drying out and cleaning up.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My husband installed a French drain after our basement flooded, and it’s bone-dry ever since during torrential rain and rivers of melting snow. Hopefully yours will do the trick as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. terrepruitt says:

    Wow. You’re right, a basement flooding is awful, but an entire home flooding, your street, your town . . . wow, great perspective!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. JOY journal says:

    Been there. I think basements should be banned.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For a while in March, I lived on “Omaha Island” in Nebraska. Omaha is near the Missouri River, and several of the rivers that empty into the Missouri River were out of their banks. I-29 was under water from south of Omaha all the way to Kansas City. There was one bridge leading into Iowa instead of 6. The roads north and west of Omaha were under water. Since then, Omaha has become reconnected to the rest of the state and is no longer an island, but we’re seeing so much standing water where there shouldn’t be standing water now.
    As for banning basements? My son lives in mine. It might influence him to move out? Time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I went to college in Cincinnati. And, while reading this, I am waiting for a rain delayed plane at the Cincinnati airport.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. the real damage to watch out for is the mold that shows up years later.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    It’s the everyday things of earth that God uses to grow. Often they are broken, flooded, fired up things. I bet your glad when you can look back and laugh.

    In Christ,


    Liked by 2 people

  16. So sorry, Mitch. We have been praying daily for everyone in the flood-stricken areas. We know it doesn’t just go away. Recovery is a long ordeal and we pray God’s daily mercies in the journey. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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