All the Messes Between Successes

Another profound teaching moment brought to you by my 2-year-old…..

When I stop to consider the amount of poo and other unpleasant substances that I’ve come in contact with since becoming a mom, it’s truly amazing. Indeed, as moms, we have a high calling!

What would have gagged me prior to motherhood, is now simply part of the job. A not so fun part, but a necessary part, nonetheless.

Potty training my almost two-year-old has added a new dimension to this labor of love. The amount and the “caliber,” if you will, of Aria’s “big girl” potties, and the surfaces I have had to clean them from lately, somehow make me look forward to returning to the slightly less toxic and water soluble breast-milk poo of my soon-to-arrive newborn.

And with that day fast approaching, we’ve hunkered down and stayed indoors (even in this heat wave), to practice the timeless art of “potty time.”

My reconnaissance work on Pinterest has paid off  as I’ve kept Aria entertained with plenty of messy sensory projects and games to keep her hands busy and her mind active. And with silly videos to inspire, encouraging pep talks from trusted friends along the way, treats to reward, and the timer telling us every 10 minutes to “try, try again,” I think I have managed to lay down the framework for a successfully trained almost 2-year-old.

Yet for all the successes we’ve had over the last few days, we’ve had plenty of messes in-between, and plenty of moments of frustration from both parties. But could there be a better analogy to draw from in reflecting on our own “grown-up” spiritual training?! 🙂

At one point this week (I think it was in the midst of stooping down in all my 9-month pregnant glory to mop up a lovely trail of puddles), I thought of how even though I had won my “big girl pants” many moons ago, I still have my areas of weakness and make plenty of mistakes in my actions, thoughts, speech, and heart, daily.

In my walk and relationship with God, I try and fail often. I doubt and forget what I’ve been taught. Or worse, I regress to baby-like behavior in moments of laziness or rebellion.

Yet God stoops down and patiently cares for me again and again.

He gently and lovingly “leads me down paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” And even when I fall into the muck and mire of sin, even though I “walk through the valley of the shadow of death ” (Psalm 23), this truth remains:

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
(Psalm 103:8, 13 ESV)

I’ve heard it put this way: As Christians, our journey is much like the stock market with many “oh crap” moments (no pun intended) in between moments of “success.” Still, we are always moving “up and forward,” so to speak. Our sins do not make or break our salvation because of God’s mercy and grace through His Son. We can always find encouragement through God’s word to press on, and we are spurred on in faith by our brother’s and sisters in Christ.

All of our moments in the muck and mire (though they be literal as in cleaning up after a potty training child, or spiritual as in dealing with our own messes), draw us closer to God if we are in Christ, because those moments humble us and remind us of who we were apart from Him, and who we are called to be in Him.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 2: 11-14 (ESV)


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