Potty training is hard work. Right now my wife and I are in the process with our daughter, so for the past couple weeks we’ve become Toilet Sentries. We watch the clock, frequently ask her if she has to go, and scuttle her to the potty approximately forty times a day. And it’s not like our daughter appreciates our efforts. At times she’s run away, hidden so we can’t see her do her business, or cried atop her Elmo seat. Sometimes we simply wanted to scrap the idea altogether. What’s wrong with a twelve-year-old in diapers anyway?
Luckily we’re in a phase where she’s made significant progress. She wears pull-ups and can go almost the entire day in the same one. Without constant reminders, however, she’d easily revert to her old ways: doing her business in her pants.
It struck me this week that too often my faith is like this. I make progress trusting God, but without constant reminders, I make a mess of my life. To be honest, I’m having a tough time trusting that I’m where God wants me to be. Or maybe I’m where He wants me to be, but I don’t want to be there anymore. Ever have that feeling?
I feel dry, and not in the good sense, like how I hope my daughter is when I check her every fifteen minutes. It’s more like a burden, and I’ve identified a few reasons. Last week I had surgery on something that didn’t hurt, and now that it’s “fixed” I can’t move around much. For someone who’s pretty active, it’s been tough. Also, I’m a teacher, and it seems the decision-makers in my state no longer appreciate what I do. Decision after painful legislative decision fills me with mourning for my students, myself, and my colleagues. Finally, I’m on vacation (I know, boo-hoo, right?) and until this blog haven’t written a new word in a week. Not a good sign for someone who fancies himself a writer. As I list all of my complaints, my life starts to look and feel like the inside of my daughter’s diaper (gotta love that imagery).
But even as I write this, I know these are all excuses. Because here’s more of what’s wrong: aside from the prayers I pray with my daughter, I haven’t offered much spiritual conversation in a week, I skipped church Sunday and didn’t refill the tank in any substantial way, and I haven’t been reading my Bible. I’ve not done what Paul advised when he said, “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:16). I’ve been a child in my thinking (1 Cor 14:20).
How’s that for confession?
What I’m rediscovering is that my spiritual situation is self-induced. Unless I allow it, no one and no thing can stand between me and my God. Not abdominal pain, not short-sighted legislative decisions, and not my lethargic attempts to break my writer’s block. They’re distractions. They’re road bumps I’ve made into walls when I can just as easily let God send me speeding over them.
I have the choice. It’s in my hands. But sometimes it’s more comfortable to stay where I am. To wallow in the muck of my own self-pity.
I bet my daughter feels that way sometimes.
Maybe I should take a lesson from her and start making some progress. It’s time to put on my big-boy-pants and do something about the spiritual mess I created. If you’re where I am, hopefully you can do the same.