For the past month, my life has been largely consumed with matters of the . . . potty.
If you don’t count the Pull-Ups at night, my daughter has been diaper-free for four weeks now, and she rarely even has an accident. (Of course, this is partly due to her fascination with finding – and trying out – every public toilet in a 20-mile radius, from Home Depot to our favorite Mexican restaurant to all three Walmart locations near our house.)
But those first couple of weeks? They weren’t so accident-free, although they were definitely spent obsessing over all things potty-related.
That’s why I shouldn’t have been surprised when I received a call at work that went like this: “Hi, this is Cory, your daughter’s teacher? Yes, um, this is just an informational call to let you know . . .”
[I swear, there was a full-minute pause here, where I envisioned my sweet little girl biting her classmates or knocking them onto the floor or any number of violent moves.]
“ . . . that during naptime, your daughter undressed herself, went potty on her cot and then, um, well, painted herself with it.”[At this point, I literally gasped. I’m not normally a gasper. But oh, how I gasped at this point.]
“And, you know, we don’t have a bathtub here, but I tried to clean her up the best I could with a washcloth. She’ll definitely need a bath tonight, though . . . and she might smell when you pick her up.”
[“WHAT?! She’s NEVER done anything like this before!” I really couldn’t get over it. This is the same girl who hates getting her hands dirty. Right? The same girl?]
I still have no idea what came over my normally clean-freak daughter that day. When I told her that I was very disappointed in this behavior, she sobbed how sorry she was and how she wouldn’t do it again. When we got home, I put her in the bathtub. I washed her hair and scrubbed her elbows and dried her head to toe. Then I put her in clean clothes and told her that I forgave her. And I hugged her close.
The whole incident reminded me of the most vivid parables I’ve ever heard. When I was a sophomore in college, one of my small group leaders described his unique way of understanding God’s love and forgiveness.
He said he imagines God looking down on us and seeing a big pile of . . . mud. [We’ll say “mud” for today’s story, but it’s possible he used another substance for illustration purposes.]
Then, he said, God reaches down, picks up the mud pie and starts wiping away the dirt. Wiping and swiping, until finally, a face begins peeking through.
“There you are,” He says.
And despite all the mud, the gunk, the smell, He sees us. And He loves us and holds us close. Because He doesn’t see the mud.
He sees . . .
. . . the mom who gets up in the middle of the night to calm her daughter’s fear of the dark. Again.
. . . the husband who works two jobs so his wife can go back to school and finish her degree.
. . . the woman who bakes the communion bread every single time the congregation takes the sacrament.
. . . the kids who sell cookies to raise money for the orphans they heard about at church.
. . . the woman who sends letters to every soldier from her small town who’s serving overseas.
. . . the person who refills the coffee pot, holds open the door, pays for the person next in line, thanks the janitor.
. . . the person who loves, who laughs, who reads, who creates, who cares, who worries, who prays, who sings, who is.
He sees us.
Hearing that description, gross as it was, changed something in me. It reminded me that no matter how dirty I get, no matter how disguised – or disgusting – I think I am, God sees ME.
What does God see when He wipes the mud off of your life?
So timely for me, Mary. I just wrote today about being seen through others eyes instead of my ow. This brought me to a whole other level. Thank you.
It’s often hard for me to see myself as God sees me. This post reminds me that He truly sees me as pure and clean, that I am beautiful in his eyes. Thank you!
Jennifer Sikora says
WOW. How awesome to receive this post today. I needed to know that He sees me through all the mess I have put myself in and done to me.
Thanks for the reminder,
Well, my life is so consumed right now with a puppy and her biting and chewing stage that I feel like my life revolves around keeping every one “gentle” to not upset and excite the puppy to the point of biting to no return. Does that make sense?
Every one says this stage doesn’t last forever and “it’s normal” just like teething and potty training a child but, I am beginning to wonder…..
Hopefully God still sees me the struggling mother trying to keep it all together and keeps giving me strength to get through this. 😉
sonya schroeder says
Wow Mary this was amazing to read. It even brought tears to my eyes. Once we realize that God does not see all the imperfection just US, our world starts to become more clearer for Him.
Thanks for sharing I am going to share this as well.
Serving with Joy,
Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama says
Oh Mary – this was so, so good. Good and beautiful. Which is unexpected in a potty training story 😉
Connie Gomez says
This was beautiful. I am in tears. And, I am just in awe of Him,Jesus, everyday in my life. Many Blessings.
What a beautiful post, Mary! Just a few moments before I read this I was dealing with a potty training issue and was feeling very frustrated. Thanks for this timely reminder!!
Laurie Wallin says
Girl, I totally get the “gasp” moments. I have two adopted foster daughters, one of whom “soils her way through life” … she’s made art of every possible kind with her stuff… I’ve often found immeasurable joy in knowing God sees those metaphorical moments in my own life like you share here – he sees us. And “us” we can never even fully see. One He loves so very deeply despite our funk. I’m so thankful for your story today. Thanks for keeping it real!
Encouraging moms with intense challenges, who choose to thrive anyway!
Hi Mary, your post was both timely and awe-inspiring! Just yesterday I walked into the bathroom and found that my 22 month old had pooped all over the floors, wall, and baseboards. I was very upset and felt like I would be potty training this child forever. Little did I know that God had a message for me in the form of your post. Thanks for the reminder to not only see the value that God sees in ourselves but also to see the value in our kids even in the poopiest of moments!
Lol. Sounds like you have your hands full with that precious baby. Literally and figuratively! 🙂
It is the most incredible peace to know that God sees the “real us”, regardless of the mud. He sees how incredibly far from perfect we are, and yet, He loves us all the more. It’s amazing, really.
Wow…this is beautifully written even if the subject does stink a little. 😉
this is such a sweet representation of God’s love… through a mother’s eyes. i love it
Mary @ Passionate Perseverance says
He sees so much. Thank you for this most unique reminder of who I am in the eyes of my creator.
I’m sad to say….He probably sees much to clean off in me.
I enjoyed the post. What a great reminder….to clean it up!
Paula Jean says
Mary, what a great post! Sorry your little stinker was such a stinker this time, but what a great illustration to help us better comprehend God’s love.
The Diaper Diaries says
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I am crying over here. Thanks for sharing.
Debbie G. says
It is years since I had to deal with the whole potty training issue. But this post still so touched my heart. I needed to be reminded of God’s love and how He sees me and not the dirt I sometimes get covered in as I walk through this life. Thank you for reminding me that He loves messy & dirty ME!
Mary, isn’t it wonderful that God sees us through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ!
Because of Christ…God the Father sees us as clean, pure, forgiven, worthy, usable, righteous.
We are beautiful because we are ‘clothed’ with the righteousness of Christ. The wretchedness, the sin, the filth, the agony, that should have been ours. He took on himself. And because of Him, we are beautiful.
It isn’t us that He sees…it’s Christ IN us, the Hope of Glory!