Things Get Messy
Things get messy sometimes. Jonathan loves swimming. The delighted anticipation on his face as he approaches the pool has me hooked.. You can hear his high falsetto coos echoing the length of the aquatic center. I think it must be sensory heaven for him - the feel of the water slapping against his arms, squealing and laughter of children, buoyancy. A few weeks ago, we rushed in (meeting Daddy!) only to find the bathroom in both the family changing areas occupied. We have our routine - predictable repetition is vital. In the bathroom, sit on the potty. For our kids, we’ve always called it “plop-plop”. Onomatopoetic, musical! Suit on, and off we go! Not this time. Self proclaimed efficiency expert and problem solver that I am, I go to plan B - why not put on Jonathan’s suit in the locker/changing area while waiting for the adjacent bathroom/ shower? Off with the pull-up. I turn to put it in his bag. Simultaneously, I see a little brown spot on it and hear grunting behind me - oh nooooooo! He did just what I trained him to do when he pulls his pants down and sits. Oh, Lord, please don’t traumatize the little kid that’s going to come out of bathroom and find this! Fast motion! Now! Towel around Jonathan’s backside, I drag him around the corner to the other bathroom, now open (pull-up rudely disguises the “surprise” left behind). Rinse off, drag now clean Jonathan back around the corner to clean up the mess. Big mistake. Jonathan lunges for the pile, and it’s in his mouth and smeared on the wall in a split second. I know. It’s gross. Autistic children do that - it’s a sensory thing, and I don’t think of it ‘cause it hasn’t happened for years…. Race back around the corner--this time it’s soap in his mouth, on his hands, clean again! Close the door, hoping he doesn’t escape buck naked while I rush back for his suit. Suit on clean boy at last!! Like any rational being, I take him to his father. Why am I being grouchy with him? It’s not his fault. Concerned, Nick asks me if I want him to clean up. I married a saint, really I did. But I just need to finish the cleanup. Passing the glassed-in guard room, I catch someone’s eye. “There’s poop on the bench in the family changing room,” and keep moving.Pretty much captures it, and how in the world are they gonna know what “plop-plop” is? I must commend myself on the speed with which that mess disappeared. Thank God, (and I mean that, I do thank Him for small mercies) the room is empty. Two guards approach timidly, and for the first time a lump rises in my throat - how do I explain? “I’m so sorry, He’s very….delayed.” Rallying, I show them where to spray, and then out to the pool. I’d better be really nice to Nick and smile. Jonathan is smiling. And it’s worth it.
Then it hits me - this is not as traumatic as my last disaster. A passing sadness, then action, resolve. Not perfectly handled, but God is toughening me up! In His mercy He’s allowed me to visit the very fears that held me back from venturing out with Jonathan. Right up front. To discover Jesus here with me in the midst of the mess. And although I get a little smarter with each adventure, I can’t really “fix” this. Dr. Seuss comes to mind: “And this mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up, there is no way at all!” I’m going to have to keep trusting the One who carries me through not around. The One who loves me. “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.” (Ps 40:2) “I sought the Lord and He answered me; he delivered from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame. (Ps 34:5-6)
Later, I kept thinking about people whose lives are very messy, with no quick fix or solution. Lord, help me not to care so much about how they got there. You came to all of us in the filth of our sin, and made us clean. Jesus, you did that for me. Let my hand be Your hand of love extended. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me.