So... here it is. A quick mommy-devotion that I hope will speak to someone, because as surely as it spoke to me on the day it happened, it teaches me today as well.
One morning my oldest son asked if he could take a bath when we were finished bathing all the other kids. He just wanted to play in the water but was assured that he DID have to wash, too, if he was taking a bath. With reluctance he agreed and when the other kids went down for rest time or out to play in the playroom, my son climbed into the bath tub.
I’d filled it extra high and poured a generous amount of bubbles into the warm, fresh water. I turned on the ‘fountain’ toy that the younger kids play with and tossed every single alphabet letter and bath toy that was hanging in the drying net down into the tub. I was really intent upon not only letting him have a nice relaxing bath, but giving him the ability to thoroughly enjoy every aspect of it!
After about 20 minutes I decided I should go and check in on him. I could smell the brand new bottle of apple scented kids’ shampoo and I wanted to help wash his hair so I could be sure he really got it clean and all the shampoo rinsed out. Being 7 means independence, and he’ll be 7 in just a few weeks. But it also means that some things he just might not be old enough to handle himself.
When I got into the bathroom that day, the light scent of apples became a strong, overwhelming smell. It was as if I walked into a room of incense with an apple scent and almost made me want to leave the room. Having just opened the bottle for the first time during one of the previous kid’s bath, I didn’t think that it was the type of shampoo that would give off that strong of a scent.
Then, I saw it. I saw the bottle of shampoo floating in the water. Empty.
Not only did I see an empty bottle of shampoo, which just that morning was brand new, but I saw my almost-seven-year-old son sitting there in the tub looking at me with dry hair.
I took a deep breath. “Son, what did you use shampoo for?” No real answer. “I know it was full, because I just opened it this morning. What did you use it for?” Still nothing good. “I’m disappointed that you used my whole bottle of shampoo to play and you still haven’t even wet your own hair to be washed. There’s not even enough left in the bottle to wash your hair with now, and I don’t have shampoo for anyone the next time that anyone needs a bath.”
I’d love to say I was calm and predictable as I talked to him, but the truth is, I was angry. I was angry that he’d taken my indulgent bath time that I’d set up with everything he could want or need related to the tub and instead of enjoying everything I’d given him, he chose to look outside of my provisions and take something he knew he shouldn’t have and use it up.
The bath continued and I did find shampoo to wash his hair. Then, as I began to rinse his hair I realized that it wasn’t coming clean. There were too many suds in the water and I had to turn on the shower to rinse his hair. Immediately, he began screaming as I rinsed it and that woke his three brothers in the bedroom next door. My oldest son ended up being sent to the other room of the house to get dressed then have a time-out for his misbehavior… Hopefully learning the lesson that he’s not to touch things that don’t belong to him. It wasn’t exactly the nice, fun, relaxing time that I’d hoped he would have that day.
In hindsight, I see that I do this very same thing daily. God prepares His best for me. He lays out a soft fluffy towel, gives me bubbles and every toy in sight, prepares the warm tub, and I reach for the one thing which He needs to be there, but which I can’t seem to ignore. I want what belongs to someone else, instead of being happy with everything that God has for me.
Then, when I disobey, it not only has God come and say “Hey, why did you do that? Didn’t you see I had my best planned for you? Why did you go your own way anyway?” but then when He decides to carry on with the plans He had, they often involve a full showering off to get rid of the mess I’ve made of myself rather than a quick rinse to reorganize myself. And yes, I often leave there screaming, waking others around me from their sleep and upsetting them too… and sometimes it’s as though God sends me to another area to ‘get myself under control’ before I can resume ‘normal’ life.
Have you reached for the shampoo bottle lately? And has God rinsed you down… kicking and screaming?
With our children, we always go back a few minutes later… when their mood has changed and the circumstances are different. And we make sure to tell them I love you. We give them a hug, remind them of the lesson they’ve learned, and make sure that they know that no matter what they do… we will always love them! At the same time, we want them to obey and ask that they think before they act and consider right and wrong.
God comes back with his Hugs and I Love You’s too. He doesn’t hold a grudge when we mess up, or when we disregard His best for us and go after something that’s tempting us in another direction. God loves us forever, no matter what.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16