When there’s something icky in the bath water

I don’t even know what it was that made me suspicious, but I’ll give the credit to mommy-instinct. One minute my two boys were splashing in the tub, and the next I was giving my four-year old the death stare:

Me: “Did you just pee in the bath?”

Boy: “No, I was holding my hand in front of it so that it wouldn’t come out.”

Me: “Do you need to get out and pee?”

Boy: “No. I went.”

Me: “Did the pee come out while you were sitting there in the water?”

Boy: “Yes, but it’s okay because I had my hand in front of it so that it wouldn’t be in the bath water.”

*lesigh*

The boy seemed confused and more than a little upset at the speed with which I yanked him out of the water. What was the big deal? From his perspective, he had contained the problem. Why, then, was I muttering something about contamination and yuckness? He acquiesced to his premature lauch from bath-time-bliss, still confused, but glad to be in one of his favorite spots: snuggled in a towel burrito.

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For the record, this is not my shiny clean tub in the picture.

As I leaned in to pull the plug from the tub, I got a glimpse once again of the tireless love with which God loves me. How many times have I not broken a little rule, done something I know I ought not to have done, and thought “it’s okay”? How often have I thought that I was doing “damage control” putting my metaphorical hand out to contain the mess, certain that no-one would know and nothing would be affected by my sin? Surely, from God’s perspective, that looks a lot using your hand to try and prevent pee from mixing with the bath water.

Sin, like germs, are invisible. And contamination, like pee in a bath, happens. Other people, like the unsuspecting baby brother sitting in the same water, are affected. Others, like that same brother, experience consequences from our choices, even though he was dimly aware of the facts. And yet often I am perplexed at the alarmed reaction to sin from Jesus: “if your eye causes you to sin, CUT IT OUT!” What’s the big deal, we sometimes think?

As I snuggled my boy, another thought crossed my mind. The Psalmist writes of God:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” (Psalm 40:2 NIV)

Maybe I could suggest another version:

“He rescued me out of the pee-bath, out of the mud and the germs;

He set my feet on a non-slip bath mat, and snuggled me in a fluffy towel.” (Psalm 40:2 crazed mama paraphrase)

And rescue me, he has. Even though I was hardly aware of it. As I watched the last of the water swirl out of the tub, I found myself thankful for Jesus once again: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us.”  They’re gone:  down the drain,  washed away,  while I am safe in the Father’s arms.

Cancer is Not Her Tagline

cancertagline

Wednesday

Her hair is falling out.

Every time she touches her fingers to her head, they return with a fistful of hair. “It started yesterday,” she says. “They said it would happen soon after the chemo started, but this is faster than I expected.”

We walk through town, and spend longer than usual looking at hats. “Maybe someone will teach me how to wrap a scarf around my head so that it looks pretty,” she says. I nod, mute and marveling at her resolve.

Thursdsay

I am wiping down a counter, watching her play with her children. Matt Redman’s song based on Psalm 103 is playing overhead:

Bless The Lord, O my soul, O my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before, O my soul,
I’ll worship his holy name.”

I’m humming and wiping, humming and wiping, and next thing I hear her singing along to the final verse:

“And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end is near and my time has come.
Still my soul will sing your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.”

I am undone. I turn to hide the tears in my eyes, marveling at her resolve.

Friday

She is standing behind a microphone, the first speaker up at the conference. Her hair is cropped close to her head, and from where I’m sitting she looks like a model: elfin, ethereal, radiant.

She tells a story from a dozen years ago: how she called a work contact on the phone and introduced herself, “Hi, I’m R’s wife.” The gracious voice at the other end of the line said, “I know who you are. And you are not just his wife. Your identity is found in Christ.”

She tells how later that evening, her husband of three years came home and announced that he didn’t love her anymore, and wanted out the marriage. The strange phone greeting from earlier in the day rang in her ears. “I am not just his wife. My identity is found in Christ.”

I sit with a room full of women, breathless as she continues her story of how, in the months that followed, she delved into the Scriptures and sought the arms of friends who could act as conduits of Christ’s comfort. Clinging to Psalm 62 and the promise of a strong and loving God, she made it through. The years that followed brought travel, growth, a wonderful new husband and three gorgeous children.

“Six weeks ago,” she continues,”I found out I have breast cancer. It is not what I wanted. But….” (you could hear a pin drop) “… I am in that place once again of needing to trust God through this. Once again, I am learning that I am more than a wife. I am more than the Mom of three little ones. I am not the-tragic-story-of-the-young-mom-with-cancer. Above all, I am a child of God and deeply loved by Him. I’m clinging to him.”

I nod, mute and marveling at her resolve.

Saturday

It is my turn behind the microphone, and I am teaching about being a daughter of the King. I talk about how Jesus has rescued us from the marketplace of slavery to sin. I talk about how he has moved us out of the courtroom of condemnation, and brought us into the family room of God, where we now stand as adopted and beloved children of God.

In the sea of faces, I keep finding hers. “There she is,” I think to myself, “the daughter of God.”

She is my friend. She is a wife. She is a mom. She has cancer. But those are not her taglines. Each of those relationships, while real and precious, are temporal. If one has to have a tagline for one’s life, it should be one that will outlast the seasons. Cancer is not her tagline.

Above all, she is the daughter of God.

Sunday

This morning she is wearing a hat. “I washed my hair,” she explains. “It all came off. Eventually I had to get out the shower because there was no end to the shedding and I was clogging the drain.”

Her hat is cute, but this is not the time for admiring her fashion-sense.

I am fighting the urge to cry. I fight the urge to make a lame pun and let laughter mask the awfulness. I swallow my words, “hair today, gone tomorrow.” I nod.

“I didn’t realize it before,” she says, “but it’s true what the Bible says about a woman’s hair being her glory. It really looks terrible. We were made to be with hair.”

I look at my friend and imagine her glory lying in clumps in the shower drain. But then I look at her and Psalm 103 comes to mind again:

Bless The Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits….
…. he crowns you with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:2, 4)

She may not be crowned with hair, but her head is covered with glory. She is the daughter of the King, crowned with His love and compassion.

She may have cancer, but cancer does not have her. She does not belong to chemo, she belongs to Jesus; and His glory is written all over her.

I watch her walk out the door, sporting a diaper bag and a different, cute hat. She is on her way to church to worship her God.

For the first time, I’m beginning to feel her resolve.

You may also like this related post: To be or not to be
This post is part of the 31 Days of Belonging Series. For a complete list of posts, click here.