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If You Give a Child a Marker

'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie' was one of my favorite books as a child. Now that I am a mom, it has taken on a whole new meaning. The events over the last few hours reminded me that my child has the very best intentions, even when he is making mistakes. I can show him God's overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love, even when he doesn't deserve it, especially when he doesn't deserve it.

If you give a child a marker, he's going to ask for a whiteboard,

When you give him the whiteboard, he'll probably ask you for another marker.

When he's finished, he'll ask you for an eraser or a towel.

When he sees you busy on your phone, he'll want your attention.

So he'll probably run the marker across the wall.

When he is finished drawing down the hall, he'll want to keep going.

He might get carried away and draw on his bedroom walls.

He may even end up drawing on the floors as well!

When he's done, he'll probably want to show you.

You'll have to scrub the marks with a magic eraser, which takes off the paint but leaves the marker.

He'll ask to help you, sit and watch you touch up the paint, until he gets bored.

He'll probably ask you to give him a paintbrush.

So you'll give him a paintbrush, and he'll ask for water to paint the fence.

When he paints the fence, he'll get so excited he'll want to use some paint.

Then he'll accidentally spill the paint on the carpet.

Which means you'll need to clean it.

He'll want to help but you make him stand back to watch you work.

Looking at you clean the paint with water and a towel will remind him of his eraser.

So... he'll ask for an eraser.

And chances are if he asks you for an eraser, he's going to want a marker to go with it.

All of this happened today. True story.

When I made my to-do list for today, I didn't think I would be scrubbing dry-erase marker off the wall, touching up paint, or cleaning white paint off our brown carpet. I didn't get all the regular things on my to-do list done because DJ kept me busy.

All he wanted was my undivided attention.

When I didn't give it to him, he got bored and found a way to entertain himself. When I started cleaning up his first mess and told him he couldn't help, he made another mess, and another.

As I was cleaning the paint out of the carpet, I was hit with this really powerful image of sin and the relentless love of the Trinity:

The carpet is my heart, the way God the Father made it and intended it, clean and without imperfection.

The paint is the sin that covers my heart, partially because I live in a broken world full of paint and partially because I poured the paint on myself. The white paint makes the brown carpet almost unrecognizable.

The water is Jesus' cleansing blood and the towels are the Holy Spirit, which clean my heart through justification and continue cleaning through sanctification. It takes sacrifice from Jesus and work of the Holy Spirit to make my heart clean and recognizable by the Father.

I, the carpet, did nothing at first--I simply accepted the justifying gift of Jesus' death and resurrection, and stood justified before the Father, even though I was still covered in paint. I was then moved by the Spirit to continue being cleaned and sanctified.

I know it isn't a perfect analogy, but this beautiful image of the Trinity kept me calm as I was cleaning, reminding me that I too have made a mess of things, I too have disobeyed when God asked me not to do something, and I too have received overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love from God even when, especially when, I didn't deserve it.

My gut reaction would normally be to scream and yell at DJ (yes, he did get a swat on the butt after pouring paint on the carpet), but I prayed throughout the process and was able to keep my cool. This whole experience gave me an opportunity to model God's unconditional love, share the Gospel with DJ, and teach how God loves us both, despite our flaws. Not that I'm hoping that DJ will do these things again tomorrow, but I am praying that God would open my eyes to opportunities to share the Gospel with my boys when they mess up--what better time to show our unconditional love for our kids than when they need our unconditional love the most.

Some helpful tips:

Tip #1: Water-based paint only requires water and towels to remove, you just don't want to let the paint dry on the carpet. If you keep applying water and towels, the paint will come out and your carpet will look just fine!

Tip #2: Sin only requires Jesus and the Holy Spirit to remove, you just don't want to let sin dry on your heart or else it will be even more difficult to remove. If you keep applying Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the sin will come out!

Tip #3: Getting angry at your child WILL NOT get the marker off the walls, fix your paint, or get paint out of the carpet. Getting angry at your child WILL make it harder to share the Gospel with him.

So scrub the walls, fix the paint, clean the carpet, and love your child as God has loved you. I know that is easier said than done, but the results are so worth it.

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