Having a 3 year old is one of the greatest joys you can experience. It is also one of the greatest challenges you can face. A 3 year is so impressionable, but they also really like to push their limits and test their boundaries. Sometimes when you speak to them they listen intently as if your words were the only ones that matter; other times they run right past you as if they never heard you. One thing is certain, having a 3 year old (or child in general) will leave you with plenty of those times when in the moment you want to cry, but looking back at it you will laugh hysterically at the shear ridiculousness of the situation. This is one of those moments. I hope you can laugh a little, and then take away a truth that will help you in your walk with God.
Nicole (my wife) was gone on a women's retreat with our church. I was spending the weekend with my 4 children. It was Saturday afternoon and I had a movie on that I was in and out of watching with the kids. At one point I am sitting on the couch and notice that my 3 year old, Jaden, is missing. As any good father would do I yell down the hall because I am too lazy to get up off the couch.
"Jaden?" I yelled.
"What dad?" I hear from down the hall.
"What are you doing?" I asked, still not wanting to get up.
"Pooping!" he replies.
Normally this might not be too concerning, but Jaden is still in the middle of potty training. He knows that he is supposed to go to the bathroom in the toilet and he is perfectly capable of getting on there himself, but it is still questionable if he will. Too often he would make it to the bathroom too late, after already doing the duty in his pants. Most of the time we still use a diaper for him; he has learned to pull it up and down like a pull-up, but this afternoon was different. You see, Jaden had already used the toilet a couple of times that day. He even went poop already that morning with no issues, but the last time that he went in there he took his diaper off. I had thought about it and since he had already pooped and was doing really good with going potty I didn't worry too much and figured I would take care of it in a little bit.
So that is why his response had me a little worried. I quickly got off the couch and hurried to the bathroom. When Jaden told me he was pooping I knew it could be trouble, but I was not really prepared for what I found. As I stepped into the doorway to the bathroom it took me a minute to process what was unfolding before me. Jaden's pants were on the floor next the floor rug. He was standing wearing only his shirt and he had toilet paper in his hand. I continued to assess the situation and saw there was poop on the rug and all over the floor, which had been tracked around from his foot which was covered from his toes all the way up his leg.
This is the part where you feel like crying, or yelling, or pulling out your hair, or whatever you do to release frustration. After the initial shock wears off I am left with the question, "Where do I start?" If I start with him I will inevitably step in the 'crap' on the floor. If I start with the floor he will likely move and create more of a mess. I quickly pick him up and stick him in the tub, then proceed to collect all of the clothes and towels and the rug that have poop on them and get them in the washer. Then I clean the floor and flush the toilet, which he had filled up with toilet paper as he was trying to clean up his mess. Lastly, I moved to him and the bath tub and cleaned him up.
Now, here's the breakdown of what happened. Jaden had been hanging out with us and then must have realized that he needed to go to the bathroom. Without telling anyone, he heading to the bathroom, but was too late. Once in the bathroom he attempted to take his pants off so he could clean himself up, but in doing so he pulled his leg and foot through the poop that had filled up his pants. As he tried to clean it up he kept making it worse and inevitably left his mark everywhere he went and on everything he touched. Then I found him, standing in the midst of a mess that he could not fix.
Based on the title of this post I promised a 'life lesson' from this situation. Technically, I don't know if you would consider it a life lesson, or just a picture of our lives and our struggle with sin. Think about it. How many times have you known what you were supposed to do, but you did the opposite, kind of like my son did in this situation. Then, realizing that you messed up you try to clean it up yourself. As you do you inevitably make a bigger mess than when you started until everything that you touch becomes infected with your sin. It becomes a hopeless situation.
That's when the Father steps in and picks you up out of it. Now, we must understand that just because he picks us out of our mess it does not mean we are completely free of it right away. Sometimes there is a process involved. With my son, I had to clean up the mess in the rest of the bathroom before I started on him. Meanwhile, he had to patiently wait on me and trust that I was going to take care of him.
I think there are times we get ourselves into trouble because we try to get back out into the 'world' before God is done working on us. If my son had gotten out of the bathtub before I was finished cleaning him up he would have continued to make a mess and gotten himself into more trouble.
So, I guess all in all, the lesson that we can learn from this is that when we do screw up we don't have to try to clean it up ourselves, in fact we really can't. We don't have the ability to.
If Jaden had made it to the toilet before pooping he would have been fine, but once he made the error, it became a situation that was out of his control. And if he had come to me at that time it would have been a lot quicker and easier to clean up, but since he tried to handle it on his own it became worse.
In the same way if we avoid the sin to begin with there is no issue, but if we do sin we must recognize that it is beyond our ability to fix it. If we go to God right away we will avoid making a bigger mess, but if we do not go to Him it will only get worse until we do.
So, if you mess up, go to God first. Don't let the situation get more out of control. Confess to Him your sin and let Him cleanse you and set you free. The sooner you let God take control, the less of a mess you will be in.