As the reflections of our pride upon our defects are bitter, disheartening, and vexatious, so the return of the soul towards God is peaceful and sustained by confidence. You will find by experience how much more your progress will be aided by this simple, peaceful turning towards God, than by all your chagrin and spite at the faults that exist in you.
– Francois Fenelon
A few years ago, when he was a wee lad, a child I know and love was becoming accustomed to the concept of both freedom and taking increasing responsibility for his choices. I watched him as he encountered one of the first steps to maturity: potty training.
Spiderman underwear was fun to wear and all, but sometimes the burden of getting up and walking away from the sandbox or the Lego blocks when he was in the creative zone was too heavy. Sometimes you don’t know what your limits are until you’ve passed them. And he passed them.
We noticed (eventually) that in moments like these the little guy disappeared. We went looking for him. His daddy called and called but he made no response. Finally, following his nose, his father found him hiding, sometimes in the closet, sometimes behind the furniture, sometimes behind the drapes.
You see, part of the problem was that he had an older sibling, a sibling who taunted him with, “You’re in trouble now! Wait until Daddy gets home! You’re in for it.”
Daddy was perhaps disappointed, but not angry. He understood the weakness of little boys. He did not expect perfection in the learning stages. He wanted his son to succeed and he loved this little boy with a love so big he would have laid down his life for him. Poopy pants was not a deal breaker.
I realized one day that this is often our reaction when we fail to live consistently with changes we want to make in our lives. Like the wee lad we run and hide in shame from the only One who is able to clean us up and set us back on our feet in a refreshed state. Sometimes we sit alone in the closet in poopy pants for days, or even years, avoiding the very One who offers us mercy and forgiveness. Our heavenly Father loves us so much. He is not surprised by our weaknesses but wants to help us gain freedom from stinky habits by showing us a better way.
Lately I’ve been aware of older sibling-type people who get out their social media megaphones and preach the bad news of “Wait until Daddy gets home! You’re in for it now!” For some reason they are surprised when people don’t run in the direction they suggest. Instead of encouragement older brother-types tend to heap on larger and larger piles of shame that keep those who cannot keep up to standards hiding in dark places.
Jesus Christ says, “Come to me if you are weak. Come to me if you find the burdens placed upon you too heavy. Come to me and I will give you rest and peace in your lonely souls because I am meek and lowly of heart. I am willing to get down to your level and put my arms around you and love you just as you are, poopy pants and all. Let me clean you up. There is so much more I want to show you! Let’s do this together.”
It’s called grace. Amazing grace.