My oldest son was potty trained relatively easily. We had our fair share of messes, but when I got it, he got it. He has been wearing diapers at night, and was reluctant to give them up.
He and I had a talk about this, and he decided he was ready to sleep in underwear. He was actually pretty excited about the idea.
The first night, he wet the bed.
The second night, he wet the bed.
The third night he wanted his diaper back. I gave it to him.
The fourth night I convinced him to try again. He wet the bed again. He was uncomfortable in his wet pajamas, but not enough to really try and do anything about it.
The fifth night, he wet the bed again. He wasn’t waking up right away, and was developing a rash from his wet pajamas. The rash didn’t hurt him much, but seeing it upset him, and really wanted to give up. He wanted his diapers back. As a father I felt two conflicting emotions. I wanted give him some rash cream, a kiss on the cheek, and his diaper back. At the same time, I knew that he was capable of doing this, and the more he wet the bed, and the more uncomfortable this made him, the more he’d want to overcome this challenge.
Last night, before bed, we discussed the problem. He told me he would try to get up and use the bathroom himself at night, but he wasn’t sure if he could. He told me he really wanted to, but it was hard for him. I asked him if he’d like me to wake him up in the middle of the night so he could use the bathroom. He said he would, so when I got home from work last night around 1:00AM, I woke him up. He hadn’t wet the bed yet. He used the bathroom and went back to bed. He was very pleased with himself.
In the morning, around 6:05AM, he came in to my room. He told me his bed was dry… but he had wet himself running to the bathroom.
We’ll try again tonight.
Children don’t always know what’s best for them. I know that he can do this, and I know that ultimately, even though he may never appreciate it, he will be better off for the discomfort I’m having him go through. He might resist a bit, but ultimately, he’ll do what I ask because he trusts me.
Before becoming a father, I think I could understand this as an analogy for our relationship with God, but a key component was missing until I became the father: when my son has a rash, it hurts me too, maybe more than it hurts him.
Knowing that God is hurt by our suffering, and loves us enough to put us through it anyway really changes things, especially if we can trust that God knows what’s best.
Just a thought…