When I've lifted Kerrington from her crib after her naps this week, the first thing I've noticed is the snot. She's sick and cutting her first tooth, leaving the dear baby caked with snot. It seeps from her nose to her upper lip. As she nuzzles her head into her crib sheet, she streaks her face and hair until it dries, crusted and yellowed.
Her skin, normally fair, has chapped. Her eyes, normally vibrant, show weariness.
I love this child despite the snot. I pick her up, hold her close, and let her rest her head on my shoulder. I listen to the sound of her congested breathing and run my hand up and down her back. All the while I let her nuzzle into me, conforming her small body into my own, and together we sit.
She doesn't resist me. As I draw her close, I know that I'm inviting mess into my arms. I do it willingly, without judgment.
Kerrington doesn't have to clean herself up before I hold her. She doesn't need to wash her own face before I can see its beauty. She's welcome in my arms, no matter what state she's in.
Thankfully, God feels the same way about us.
I have moments when I'm rather snotty. Moments when my heart harbors frustration and I speak sharply to my kids, moments when I lose my patience. It's unattractive, yet when I approach God and present myself caked with ugliness, he extends his arms to draw me close again. Willingly. Without judgment.
I shouldn't resist him. He's not repelling me. But he does want to clean me up.
Although I accept Kerrington snotty, I prefer her clean. I wet a washcloth and dab her face, gently softening and wiping away the crustiness. I soothe her chapped skin with mild lotion. This cleaning process -- this process of getting things right -- is what she resists. She flails her head and arches her back, but I gently proceed, knowing how much better she'll feel when it's done.
I don't tell her, "Kid, you got yourself into this mess, so you can get yourself out of it." I don't let her wallow in it. No parent does this. God, as a good parent, does the same. He dabs at the ugliness, the impatience, the striving in my heart. Sometimes I flail, arching my back and resisting the change, but we both know that I'll feel better when I'm clean.
I love my kids despite their snot.
God loves his kids despite our snot. And, thankfully, he loves us too much to leave us that way.