It's way too late for me to be up and it's especially too late for me to be putting any words down on this blank canvas glaring at me. But sometimes things happen and you just have to sacrifice the sleep and write on. I'm pretty sure there has never been a more serious post in the history of mankind on the subject of using the potty.
For the first time in my short parenting life, I have tasted and seen the faithful pleas for mercy for my child who is choosing to sin while being completely aware of the consequences of disobedience and the rewards for obedience.
My child, who has been potty trained for a year, has developed an irrational fear of using the toilet. I've heard of many children who go through these stages after already being fully potty trained, but that's not what is going on here.
It began Thursday night when she complained about some pain while going potty, which kept her from going potty the rest of the night and into Friday morning. I called the doctor as soon as they opened and got a same day appointment. Meanwhile, Lily, while prancing and dancing around the bathroom floor, had an accident out of pure I-just-can't-hold-it-anymore.
Thankfully, she didn't have a UTI. Nothing that 3 baths and a few good ol' doses of Desitin wouldn't fix.
Here it is 4:30 am Sunday morning and Brent and I have spent 90% of our time the past 60 hours in the bathroom with her. Statistics is not my thing, but I'm sure that my estimate of time spent sitting on the edge of the tub is correct. Some of that time has been spent with both of us in there, and some of that time has been spent in shifts...for when one of us throws all patience out the window and needs to leave the room. But regardless of who's been in there the job has been the same...get Lily to sit on the potty and tee tee.
Her problem is not that it hurts, because every time she has an accident she tells us with a huge grin "I knew that wouldn't hurt!"
She's afraid that it might hurt, knowing full well that it won't. She knows the truth but believes the lie.
We've had multiple conversations with her about where her fear is coming from (Satan) and how we need to glorify God by trusting Him instead of being afraid, we've read Scripture, we've sung songs, we've prayed over her out loud.
Turns out, as she finally admitted, she's afraid of falling in the toilet. So we've gone from pain from going potty, to being scared of pain from going potty, to afraid to fall in.
My patience has been tested over years of time, but never this much in the span of a weekend. It's an extra large dose of learning patience in a very short period of time. And I pridefully tell myself, surely God does not have to be this patient with me! This is just ridiculous and unheard of. I am NOT this hard-headed.
Who am I kidding? Myself only.
God knows that I'm this hard-headed and more when He pursues me. And He's far more patient with me than I could ever be with Lily.
At one point tonight, Brent was on bathroom duty because my patience was non-existent and I sat in the den praying for three things: a plea for Lily to use the potty, strength and patience for Brent, and God please just tell me what it is you want me to learn so we can all move on from this!
I'm learning that this whole raising a child thing isn't so much for the child as it is for the refinement of the parent, so there must be something here to learn. Just teach me God and let's move on to some other frustrating teachable moment. PLEASE!
So here's the scene where God doesn't just teach me, He shows me the reality of His relationship with me.
I'm sitting on the edge of the tub...where I'm camping out for the weekend...waiting for what I hope will be a successful ending to the night with Lily on the potty. Brent and Lily are in the hallway. She is pacing the hallway and he is sitting in the floor. Y'all, he's GOT to be the calmest person I know.
She's pacing because she is about to pee all over creation and Brent is kindly and calmly explaining to her over and over again the consequences vs. the rewards of her choices.
If she chooses to tee tee anywhere but in the potty, she gets a spanking then she must put herself to bed with no stories, rubbing her back, songs, etc.
If she chooses to tee tee in the potty, she gets M&Ms and a dance party. Then, she will have a normal bedtime routine with stories and what not.
There are so many relevant words that flow from my husband's mouth tonight that sound JUST like things I've heard my Father say to me.
You are being foolish.
You know the right choice and you are more comfortable with the bad choice.
You are choosing pain over blessing.
Do you trust me?
I will not and can not lie to you.
Satan is the one person who does not love you and you are listening and believing him over the one who loves you. Satan wants to you to hurt. He is the father of all lies. He does not want any good thing for you.
Please, just make the right choice.
I want to give you good things. I want to give you what you ask for. I don't want to discipline you, but I have to if you make the wrong choice.
I can't make this choice for you. You must decide what you want.
I LOVE YOU. Trust me.
And the pacing continues and the moment is getting more and more intense as we know the inevitable is about to happen. She's going to tee tee. Even the dog is in the hallway wanting her to step into the bathroom.
But Lily won't even step foot toward the right choice. She stops at the door, considers it, and keeps walking.
After hours of pacing, she finally stops at the bathroom door, stops her fidgeting and pacing, and has an accident while staring at the one thing that would bring rewards: the potty.
How often do we stare in the face of our reward (Jesus) and choose to go the opposite way? Knowingly choosing pain instead of blessing?
If you aren't a parent, I'm not sure I can explain the frustration Brent and I felt tonight. It was a strange frustration. One not filled with yelling and screaming. A calm frustration. One that manifested itself deep in our hearts where the passionate desire for our child to obey lives.
Most of the time I want Lily to obey for selfish reasons. It's just easier for me if she'll do what I say.
Tonight I wasn't worried about me at all. I wanted her to obey because of my deep and pure desire to see her make the right choice, for her own good. I wanted to see answered prayers. I wanted to rejoice with her while she enjoyed her reward (M&Ms and a dance party). It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch my child make an informed decision to sin. Then, have to watch the discipline that followed.
After the punishment was over, Brent came to me while on the bathroom floor, both of us crying, and said "This sucks". Because you know what? It does. I don't know any other way to describe it. It sucked.
But it also had the opposite effect on me. It was a beautiful display of how my God patiently chases after me to do the right thing and an ugly sinful display of how I choose the enemy's voice over His time and time again.
How many times am I reminded by my Heavenly Father of the rewards of following him without fear and the consequences of living in fear of His commands?
This entire process happened too many times to count in the span of 60 hours. However, it occurred twice tonight and that's when all three of us reaped eternal rewards.
From 10:00 pm-12:00 am we spent time in the bathroom and experienced the heartbreak of our child choosing to sin, crying over our obligation to discipline her.
From 3:00-4:30 am we spent time in the bathroom and experienced the joy and relief of our child finally choosing the right thing, and getting to enjoy her rewards. M&Ms and a dance party to "Pontoon" by Little Big Town in her bedroom at 4:30 in the morning.
I can't think of a better way to spend an early Sunday morning. Well, asleep would have been my first choice. But, I'll take a dance party any day if that means my child is obeying because she no longer wants the punishment of sin.
I fully realize she is going to face harder decisions in her future that will have much greater consequences/rewards than the decision to sit on the potty. I need to be busy on my knees now, praying that she will not just have the desire to not sin but the strength and power within her to do the thing that glorifies her Father.
Thank you JESUS! And praise HIM for giving me a patient husband who looks so much like Christ!!!