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?