Tuesday, February 28, 2012

teaspoon by teaspoon

This post really should be called, "Where babies come from," "Say no to lunchables," and other failed conversations with my son, but that was way too long, so get ready to feel good about yourself as a parent.

So we're in the grocery store the other day, and I get the much dreaded request for a lunchable.  At the age of 4? really?  Has a shiny yellow shrink wrapped package with the very satisfying sound when you peel back the plastic already branded itself on the conscious of my sweet little boy?  Apparently so.  Well I decide to be the really good parent and not just say no, but explain why we don't eat lunchables.  Let's just say that Quinn's basic takeaway was that lunchables cause cancer and will make him sick like his daddy.

This conversation went very much like another one I had with Quinn where he asked me where babies come from at the breakfast table.  Talk about choking on my cereal.  I was completely unprepared, and what was Quinn's takeaway from that conversation?  Well, let's just say he thinks he has a baby in his tummy.

Now I know why most parents say I'll tell you when you're older.  I can't wait until these little nuggets start to come out at school and I get a phone call from the teacher who thinks I'm running some sort of strange cult. 

My new rule of thumb.  Never try to detail the nuances and delicacies of life to a four year old boy.  And while trying to tell him about babies was just funny, I started to feel guilty about giving him a genuine fear of lunchables. And then I thought, wait a minute, stop the press, (insert scratching record sound here).  Why in the world am I feeling guilty about teaching him to choose food not on its visual appeal, but on its  nutritional value?  That is exactly what he should be doing.

And then I thought about how this is exactly how I approach sin in my life.  Oh come on, you knew I was going to go there.  It was obvious.  Sin comes to me in these shiny wrapped packages that have such a satisfying sound when you open them.  But what is inside that package is poison to my body. I am meant to live on the truth of God's word, and when I take in the lies of sin, I am killing myself.  The Bible seriously knows how to speak to four year olds.  The way of sin is death.  Period.  End of story.  Man, I wish it told me how to explain where babies come from.  Lunchables may be a silly example, but when it comes to sin, we really are talking about life and death.  What if every time I saw that shiny wrapped package and started to salivate, that I had the same association that Quinn now has with lunchables?  What if I really knew how every taste of sin killed me a little bit more?  Wow.  That is one of my prayers for myself and Quinn right now, to see sin as it truly is and not how sin wants to portray itself.

The other day at Quinn's school I discovered that they serve yogurt with aspartame in it because it's nearly impossible to get yogurt without it, sometimes even organic yogurt is full of artificial sweeteners.  I didn't act like the crazy mom.  I just asked if I could bring him his own yogurts.  I was civilized, I promise.  But Quinn must have overheard the conversation because the next time they had yogurt at school he refused to eat it, even though he loves yogurt (and loves is an understatement here).  Now you should point out that I was a bad mom and didn't bring him yogurts right away.  But he gets it!  Now matter how good something tastes, it may be killing you.

But the crazy thing is that God can change our hearts just like we can change our taste buds.  When Emmett and I were first married, one thing I despised were beans of any sort.  So I set out to teach myself to eat beans because they are so ridiculously healthy and cheap.  And you know what?  We eat them several times a week around here, and I now love them so much I crave them.  And I find my heart, like my tastebuds, can change.  With constant exposure to scripture and prayer, and sometimes rebuke and shame when I've sinned, my heart now longs for truth and goodness instead of sin.  And though it's been a long, painful process, I find that my spiritual tastebuds are changing.  Read this passage from 2 Peter 1: 3-9:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
This passage is seriously depressing if you're caught in the cycle of sin and shame.  I'm not good, I'm not smart, I'm not self-controlled.  The first gazillion time I read this, I just hated myself.  And then one day I read the words, "in increasing measure."  You don't have to have much to be increasing, it occurred to me one day.  For someone who hates black beans, adding a teaspoon of them to my burrito is more than none, and it puts me well on your way to eating straight up black beans for dinner.  In the same way, drawing on God's divine power to be a little more self-controlled or to learn one more piece of scripture or to just listen when the Spirit tells me no - just a little bit of these things - will keep me from being ineffective and unproductive in my knowledge of Christ.  And that's really the goal, isn't it, to know Christ, our bridegroom?  And by the way, isn't bridegroom just a polite way of saying lover?  And to know him is to be in love with him.  Who doesn't secretly envy those silly people in love?

So today I'm going to add a teaspoon more of knowledge or self-control or perseverance or any of those things to my day.  Why?  Because I'm that crazy Nazi mom who wants to get you to eat right by verbally beating you into submission?  Come on, you really, secretly feel that way about people who try to get you to put down that lunchable.  It's okay.  We feel that way about ourselves too, sometimes.  No, I'm going to add that teaspoon of spiritual goodness to my day because I am unreasonably in love with someone who has changed the tastebuds of my heart.  And I probably look crazy doing the "I love Brussels sprout dance" in my kitchen, but now Quinn loves them too.  And maybe, just maybe, he'll learn to love Jesus too, teaspoon by teaspoon.

And I apologize for hopelessly mixing metaphors.  It all made sense in my head, so I hope it does in yours too.


  1. Thanks, as always, Wendy. And, can you please post some bean recipes?

  2. Made complete sense. Thanks for posting . . . as always! And sometime, let's have lunch and I'll share with you my telling about where babies come from debacle! ;-)

  3. Wendy - I think this is my favorite post of yours so far. It's encouraging to me during this Lent season when I feel like doing anything - even just keeping ahead of the laundry, much less engaging in spiritual disciplines - is like swimming upstream in rapids. Love you!

  4. Pretty sure this is not the right take-away here, but now I'm really stressed about preschool snacks. And WHAT, artifical sweeteners in ORGANIC yogurt? Not cool. (and don't worry- my kids are right there with Quinn- I'm the mom who won't let Abigail drink out of the special school plastic BPA infested water bottle). I promise, I did not miss your bigger points- just got a little stuck on the food facts!