Old Habits Die Hard
I had every intention to write about something nice today – maybe something profound, even. But no. God gave me insight today through something not so pretty. Today I am writing about poop. Specifically, poop in pants. You see, the “going down for a nap process” began over an hour ago. We started the unbelievable “test of patience” known as potty-training nearly five months ago. So far, my twin girls have done fairly well with it – most of which I owe to the jar of Skittles that sits on the kitchen counter. However, there is one key component to the whole thing that they just don’t seem to want to take to: going “Number 2” in the potty. We’ve tried many things: double “yum yums” after a successful one, watching Mom do her duty on the potty, even putting their own poop in the potty after it lands in Nemo underpants and letting them flush it down themselves. But yet like clockwork, they both seem to wait until naptime, when they know they’ll be fully clad in their trusty old friend the diaper, to perform.
So now, after the change of two extremely dirty diapers, two pairs of soiled pants, and one set of bed sheets, I sit here, eating my piece of dark chocolate, praying that my girlies will take the trip to dreamland which they both so desperately need.
You may now be wondering: what does this have to do with faith? How could God speak to me through something as undesirable as human waste?
As I stood at the sink, rinsing clothes which I knew I now inevitably had to wash (even though today was not supposed to involve any laundry), I thought to myself, “When are they going to get it? Why is this so difficult? I know they’re smart enough. And they go pee on the potty like champs! What else can I do?…” Sure, I’ve heard that getting the hang of this part of the potty-training definitely takes some time. But like the naive, relatively new parent I am, I had originally thought my kids would be over-achievers. Or, at the very least, that “some time” perhaps meant several weeks – not months.
So then I wondered: How many times must God think the same thing about me?
While yes, I have been potty-trained for quite some time now, there are many things I am sure God is waiting on me to “get”. According to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article on developing good habits on the Psychology Today website, the average time it takes for a person to develop or change a habit is 23.638 days. (I’d be even more curious to know what they say the average time is for a two-and-a-half year old!) Unfortunately, the devil does not have a calendar, nor does he care what any psychologist says about how the human mind should work. Our sinful nature also has no time frame. I know there are some sins I’ve been dealing with for years (and others my entire life) and I still haven’t been able to develop the good habit of no longer doing them. Obviously, I’m not alone in feeling this way. The Apostle Paul writes:
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. ~Romans 7:19-20
Does God ever get frustrated with me? Does He ever feel like I might just never “get it”? Time and time again, He’s had to clean up the messes I’ve made because I insist on doing the same things over and over – things that He’s not just asked me not to do or to do, but commanded me not to do or do!
But you know what I did after rinsing out those soiled clothes?
I crept back into my daughters’ bedroom to see them one last time before they drifted off to sleep. I kissed them both on the head and gave them a huge hug, telling them I loved them. Am I happy about having to change dirty diapers almost every day at naptime, the task which sometimes also involves an expected load (or two) of laundry? Most definitely not. But their behavior does not change my love for them and I’m not even close to giving up hope that one day they’ll get it. And this is exactly how God feels about us, too! To think that He loves me more than I love my children, blows my mind. For in His Word, He calls us His children (I John 3:1)! How amazing is that?! Just as I couldn’t help but snuggle each of my girlies once more, God also continues to love us in spite of our sins. And He will never stop.
The house is quiet now, the clothing in the dryer. And I am exhausted – but still looking forward to hearing my girls wake up and feeling both of their warm arms around my neck.
And I thank God that He feels the same way about me.