Each time I potty train a child, it feels like the first time. As though I've never done it before, I don't know where to start, and I am terrified! Not so much terrified that my child will still need diapers in college, but terrified of all the hard work, the messes on floors, and the inevitable frustration that comes when a child just won't "get it."
But eventually, in spite of my complete lack of confidence, each child does reach a place of fairly consistent success. I don't want to get ahead of myself here, but there is a good chance we have found that joyous place with Malakai (2)!
He was awesome with the peeing in the toilet - virtually no accidents even from day 1. But the pooping thing - he was not getting it. Every single day I was greeted with the foreboding words, "Mama, I poop-ah in my undawayre." Then, to add to the adventure, Kai decided that it was probably easier on him if he simply whipped down his pants wherever he was to go pee (yard, basement, sister's bedroom, Grandma's house, trampoline, etc.). I do believe we mastered the willful urination on public property with a handy little happy-face/ sad-face system. Butt, the other end of things remained problematic (pun intended). That is, until yesterday. And again this morning - twice in a row. Successes in succession give a Mama hope!
So you're probably wondering what all this has to do with Jesus. While I know it's crazy to take a spiritual analogy from potty training, I just can't help myself!
How to "train" ourselves for successful spiritual growth:
1. Keep practicing.
- In potty training and spiritual growth, the old saying is true, "practice makes perfect."
- Kai has a package full of matchbox cars on top of the refrigerator. In order to get a car, he first has to poop on the toilet. Just as Kai needs to do his job BEFORE he receives the reward, so too should we put our time with Jesus before the things we do for ourselves. (For me, I don't let myself sit down at the computer until I've had my quiet time.)
3. WANT it.
- Those of us who've been around children or parents have likely heard someone offer the following potty training wisdom, "He'll potty train when he's ready." Practicing and rewards will only get Kai so far; eventually he needs to go on the toilet because he wants to, because he knows it's best, and because it feels good. This will happen the more times he does it. At first our quiet time and Scripture memorization may feel like "hard work." We will need to try over and again to get it right. We will need to reward ourselves for doing well. But one day, we will find ourselves growing! Then we will WANT to have our time with Jesus, we will DESIRE to know His Word in our hearts, and doing things otherwise will feel unnatural.
You know what else potty training has to do with Jesus? It is only through Him that we parents find the strength to persevere through the puddles in every room of the house and the nasty underpants clean up to reach the finish line. Only through Him that we keep our sanity!
I press on toward the goal to win the prize... ~Philippians 3:14a