I should have told this story a while ago, but it was just too embarrassing. This is the kind of thing that you hear about from other parents but think it could never happen to one of your own sweet children.
We organized a church camp-out last June. The weather was great and the location beautiful. On Saturday afternoon, I attempted to make my 2-year-old daughter take a nap in her pac-n-play inside my parent’s camper. I set her up in the separate bedroom. (I’ve mentioned before that our camping often entails a temperature controlled, water/electricity-equipped camper. I am not ashamed. For another camping story see: My favorite place – not the WHERE but the who)
She cried for quite some time, but I took the “wait it out” approach, and she finally settled down – which I assumed at the time meant she was sleeping.
An hour or so later, she started to cry again, so I stepped inside to get her. I walked into the room she was in, and was met with both a pungent smell along with some dark, foreign matter that appeared to be smeared along the walls of the pac-n-play.
With horror, I ask my beautiful, young daughter what that was in her bed. Without hesitation, she replied calmly, “My poop.”
It was everywhere; on her hands and feet, covering the blankets, smeared on all 4 sides of her pac-n-play. In my utter shock and disbelief I had absolutely no clue what to do. Before I could address the problem, I needed one thing. My mom. She was sitting outside the camper, enjoying the pleasant afternoon and blissfully ignorant of the disaster that awaited inside.
She came in – had her own moment of shock and horror, and then we got to work cleaning up.
It was difficult for me to find a “God moment” in this. I truly wanted to forget the whole thing and tell no one. But I knew God was definitely present – probably chuckling at me.
In the end, where I think I saw God was in that instantaneous reaction of needing my mom. We never stop needing our parents. The kind of support we need changes over the years, of course, and at some point their physical presence is no longer possible and we must rely on memories of the things they have taught us over the years.
Likewise, parents (good parents at least) never stop their desire to be there for their children. Do you think my mom thought twice about helping me with the poopy mess? No – absolutely no (visible!) hesitation.
It is important to reflect upon this human relationship both as parents and as children. But I also think it is an excellent reminder of our relationship with our God. Whatever disaster we might find ourselves in – no matter how messy or smelly or painful – we can stop and call to God, who will be right by our side, ready to get his hands dirty and help clean up the mess.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
One last thought… I definitely think this story is embarrassing for me as a parent, but I think that in the years to come it will be even more embarrassing for my daughter. And I’ve just shared it for the whole world to see. Ha!