One day this week I arrived home hot and tired and after greeting my bride with a kiss and a hug, I set my bag down and went in search of the little faces that would help to wash away all of the cares from my day.
My bride informed me that my oldest was next door swimming. My daughter came running out of her room and hugged me. Joy. I love this part of the day. Austin, however, would not come immediately to me. I said "hi buddy" and he returned my greeting as he continued to pick up cars from the floor in the hallway. He hurried past me and then back again as he went down the hall to his room. I could tell by his demeanor he probably had been in trouble and was instructed to clean up. Then it hit me; an odor that was repugnant and disgusting. I looked at my bride quizzically. "What is that?" Her face mirrored a similar confusion and the same thought struck both of us.
"Austin? Do you have to go potty?" He sheepishly muttered something from his bedroom and we could both tell from the tone of his voice that he thought he was in trouble. Uh-oh. This usually means he has done something worth being in trouble. "Austin, come here." As he came around the corner, it was apparent on his face that he knew he had been caught, but we had no idea what we had caught him in. "Austin do you have to go....." There was that odor again. "Come here Austin".
He began nervously coughing as he approached. My bride turned him around and looked in his pants and nearly gagged as the odor immediately filled the hallway in concentration. His pants were full and overflowing with excrement and it was evident he had been roaming the rooms in this condition for some time. "Austin? Why did you potty in your pants?" she asked, worried for his health.
We never expected the answer we received. "Because I angry and I wanted to."
My emotions went from "poor little guy didn't quite make it to the bathroom" to "YOU DID WHAT?????" in a furious flash. My bride asked the thoughts I was thinking as anger stole speech from my tongue. "Why would you do this?" The answer was the same. "Because I angry and I wanted to." We obviously had a few things to say to our soiled son - but they would have to wait as we had to get him cleaned up. The stench was overwhelming. Tonya went to the bedroom to garner clean clothing and I took Mr. Poops to the bathroom. I then heard her exclaiming in dismay and shock from the other room and left my son as I ran down the hallway. At the foot of his bed was a small pile of his recent gifting where he had evidently started his rebellious "I'll show you" rant by squatting on the floor just before filling his pants. We were both outraged and shocked at our son's actions. This is one of those times where your children hear you say their full name with volume and force.
"AUSTIN JOEL MIKEWORTH!!!"
My daughter, by now intrigued by the commotion came running in. "What? What's going on?" We told her to leave as we tried to absorb this foul new chain of events. "What happened?"
"Austin pooped on the floor!", we chimed in unison. Her reply took this series of events to a new level. "Really?", she said. "Well he peed on my carpet too!" Tonya and I just stared at each other, open mouthed. Our sweet son, had used our daughter's area rug as urinal.
I later learned that my son had been asked to clean his toys up prior to my arrival. Like most 6 year olds this was not on the top of his list of "most-funnest-things-to-do-ever" and after repeated episodes of disobedience he finally relented with the threat of losing his beloved Mario Brothers game for the evening. His simple response - poop his pants and pee on his sister's rug.
You can imagine bath time was not that fatherly Norman Rockwell warm bonding moment. Cleaning off a six year old boy who not only purposefully soiled himself but then walked around in it for an unaccounted-for-amount of time was not the best thing I did that day. In fact, it probably rates as one of the least favorite things I've ever done. One can only imagine how well that filth worked its way into all of the "nooks and crannies" of human anatomy when allowed to on an active little boy. Three days later I am still disgusted by the experience, my son is still sans Mario Brothers, and Lydia is still teasing him about wetting on the carpet like Figaro (the dog). But I've gained some perspective on the affair.
Austin's actions were not just the lashing out of a rebellious 6 year old who did not want to clean his room. A phenomenon that is common with foster and adopted children is they will often push the envelope of obedience and known consequences just to see what the parents' reactions will be. They will frequently do things as if to say "See what I just did? What are you going to do? Do you still love me?" They are constantly testing the depth and integrity of the bonds of commitment of their new found families when all they've ever known is fear and abandonment.
And there is the picture of us all. How often have we rebelled against our Heavenly Father, tested His love for us? Some go to extremes by engaging in actions or lifestyles they know to be harmful to self or others, all to say "Do you still love me? Will anyone still love me?" His answer is always "Yes, more than you can possibly imagine or know." Some refuse to give over the reigns of their lives, refuse to submit their wills, convinced no love could undo their past. Existing in the filth of sin, they ignore the plea of the Father "Please come to me, let me clean that off of you and make you whole and healthy."
I love my son, though I honestly was not feeling compassion as I cleaned his filthy naked body in the bathtub that night. God, thankfully, loves each of us with great compassion even when we continue to test that love; even when we continue to say to him "Do you still love me?" There will be judgement for actions. There are consequences for choices. Rebellion is sin and sin coils around us with deadly ramifications if we continue to permit its existence in our lives. But our Father is continually pleading with us to let the blood of His Son wash us clean from all of this, let Him cleanse us spotless, righteous, and blameless. There is nothing cleaner than God's clean.
So you threw a tantrum, you squatted in a corner and rebelled, did that thing that is harmful to you, said those words you shouldn't have, hurt that person, or made that choice. He'll lovingly clean you off, set you on your feet, and put you back on your right path. You don't have to remain Mr. Poops.
"But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong."
1 John 1:7-9 NLT