A few weeks ago my 6 year old son Logan ate way too many waterberries with his cousin Alyssa (also 6yrs). Waterberry trees, for the tourists, have small firm glossy purple berries with a large smooth brown pip, with white fruit ranging from tart to very sour, and have a “dry” aftertaste kind of like gin.
The next day he had a big tummy ache, and a bad case of what he calls “runny pooh” or “slidey pooh” J He had to stay home from pre-school, and of course at last minute I had to stay home from work with him. We had a great day together except I regularly had to check with him if he needed to go to the toilet. Poor little thing had to run to get there every half hour at one stage!
And either because of his age (he’s a big boy now, Mom) or because having the runny poohs are a sensitive topic, he closed the bathroom door firmly shut every time. He normally doesn’t, and even triumphantly announces from his porcelain throne that he’s the king of all the stinkies!!! A real boy J... So our day went a little like this:
He’s eating breakfast watching a programme about beavers building a dam on kids TV... SLAM!
Teasing our adorable kitten with a feather, lots of giggling... SLAM!
Sweetheart, it’s hot outside, come get some juice... SLAM!
Look, Mom, I’m watering all your plants for you... SLAM!
And so it went. And the fact that he didn’t always make it to the toilet on time made it worse. Maybe it’s his age, he IS getting older, or maybe he was just plain embarrassed by having made a mess.
After his first “accident” of the day I found him eating his breakfast, but not wearing his pyjama shorts anymore. I asked him what happened to his pj’s and he got all defensive, and I could tell close to tears.
So I gently told him that if he makes an “accident”, he didn’t have to hide from Mommy, but could tell me so I could help him. Mommy won’t get cross, she’ll just help you wash off with nice warm water and soap, and get fresh clean clothes, and wash the dirty ones. But if you don’t tell Mommy, she can’t help.
Well, then he sheepishly got his shorts from the washing basket. (I KNEW what was going on all along, and where he’d hidden them, but didn’t want him to feel “outed” - I wanted him to choose to come to me.)
Anyway, we sorted out that accident, and a few others that happened later too. With as much grace and tact to minimise any embarrassment. It wasn’t his fault; he couldn’t help it that his tummy was upset. I did point out that maybe he shouldn’t eat so many waterberries next time and that he should try to remember to go to the toilet often. The day mostly went ok.
Thinking about it that evening, and telling Nick about the day’s events, I was suddenly struck by the similarity between this situation and my relationship with God. Sometimes (OK, a lot!!) when I find I have to deal with the messy consequences of my decisions, I try to cover it up myself, foolishly thinking I can hide my dirt from my Daddy somehow. My attempts at fixing things my way fall waaaaay short of what God would love to do for me if I only came to Him, and told Him what happened (as if He doesn't know).
Instead of turning to Him, saying I did this yesterday, last week, last month, and now it’s come home to roost, and I’m in big pooh, please help me Father... I don’t. I hide my dirty laundry in the washing basket and think He won’t notice the awkwardness or separation in our daily togetherness. When He gently asks me what’s wrong or points out the smell... I get defensive, I get angry, and I pull away.
Eventually, after much patience and understanding on His part, I come to Him, and say, I’m in pooh, what do I do now? I have no idea why I delay doing this - asking for His help - when I know better. Stubbornness, if I was honest... Shame. My silly insistence on self-dependence. Guilt. Condemnation. All of which do NOT come from Him...
I know He always loves me regardless of my decisions, He never shames or accuses me, and He will always cover my dirt. He says it’s going to be ok, quickly puts His arms around me, lifts me up and carries me if He needs to, strips the filth off, washes the pooh away, and dresses me in clean clothes. He checks if I need anything else. He reminds me often to watch out for possible pooh. And He does all this for me over and over and over when I mess up, which is often...
My display of practical gentle love for Logan was a tiny tiny picture of what He longs to do for each of His children every day. And as the only perfect Father how much more on top of forgiving and cleaning, does He desire to do for us, to give, to dream, to hope, to love?
Are you hiding your pooh from God? Don’t. Quickly run to him in your pooh clothes and ask for help.