Potty Training…A Spiritual Discipline?

I am currently in full potty training mode. For the past three weeks, my schedule has revolved around a timer, asking Makaylan if she needs to go potty, and then spending what seems like hours in the bathroom. We have read books, sung songs, and even watched a few Frozen songs on YouTube all in the hopes of keeping her motivated for this long, grueling process of learning how to go in the potty.

This process has also taught this mommy quite a few lessons, and I have often thought how our spiritual lives are much like potty training. When Makaylan has an accident, she has consistently responded in three different ways. We, too, often respond the same ways when we make a mess in our spiritual lives.

The first way is we hide our mess. During the first few days of potty training, Makaylan would often hide from me when she had an accident. I have never scolded her or disciplined her for making a mess, but she still hid. When I confronted her (it is not hard to determine when your little one has a potty accident), she became embarrassed and did not want help. Her hiding reminds me of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden right after they sinned again a Holy God. Scripture says, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Gen 3:8)

This verse resonates with my sinful heart. Many times, the moment I sin against God, I want to hide from Him instead of coming before Him seeking His forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. I choose to forgo Him cleaning me up and setting my heart and life in a place of security and rest. I choose to sit in the mess I have made, while my loving Heavenly Father is waiting for me to come to Him, admit I sinned against Him, and then wash me with His forgiveness. Dear friend, are you in a season of hiding from God? Do you choose to run the opposite direction in fear that He will not receive your confession and repentance? I want to urge you to come back to God (1 Jn 1:9). If you finish reading Genesis 3, you see that God, Himself, made Adam and Eve clothing out of animals skins (Gen 3:21).

There were consequences for their sin, but He restored them back into fellowship with Him. God is waiting to restore you.


Secondly, we try to clean ourselves up without asking for help. As a potty training mommy, this is the WORST! I would much rather Makaylan confess that she had an accident than try to clean it up herself. She always makes a bigger mess, which takes even longer to clean up. Once again, I am drawn to Genesis 3. Scripture says, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (Gen 3:7)

Adam and Eve knew they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover their sin. What is the difference between fig leaves and animal skins? Fig leaves that are cut off the branch only last for a moment, and then they rot and die. Now, Adam and Eve not only had the guilt of their sin, but they chose moldy, rotten fig leaves to cover up their sin. I have never tried fig leaves for a covering, but I imagine that animal skins are more comfortable. Are you in a season of trying to “help” God cover the mess you have made? Do you go to church out of obligation and guilt over your past, or do you go to fellowship with other followers of Jesus who realize, apart from God, they have no hope? Are you wearing yourself out doing good deeds and serving in church ministry hoping that Jesus will be pleased with your work, or do you serve Him out of love? The unique and amazing part of the gospel story is that we cannot clean up ourselves on our own. Therefore, God sent His Son, His only Son, in order that He might die the death we deserve and forgive us from the mess we have made. (Jn 3:16-21)

Friend, Jesus is waiting for you to come to Him. He will trade in your fig leaves for His robe of righteousness (Rom 5:12-21).


Finally, we come to Jesus asking Him for His help. I love when Makaylan comes to me and tells me that she had an accident. At times, it is still messy, stinky, and requires a bath, but I get to help her. The mess is minimized, and she is rewarded by getting back to playing quicker than when she hides from me or tries to clean it herself. And this is the response God wants from us. It requires humility to admit that we cannot do this life by ourselves. It requires submitting and exchanging self-help and self-love for God’s help. God knows that we make messes every day, and He has provided a way for us to find purity and cleansing. Will you come to Him? Will you let Him clean up your life? Will you surrender yourself to the only One who can take your mess and use it for His glory?

When Makaylan comes to me and asks for help, we grow closer. There is a bonding that takes place when we work together and I help her clean up. Do I long for the day when she will go potty by herself and messy accidents are a thing of the past? Absolutely!! (Actually, it will be a form of heaven!) But, until that day comes, I want to be there for her and help her as she seeks to navigate this new territory called potty training. I want to be her biggest encourager by letting her know that I believe in her and help her realize that she can do it. We, as mother and child, are in this thing together!