“Your hair looks great!” I compliment the mom beside me at the pool. Our youngest ones sit on our laps while we wait for the older boys to finish their swimming lesson.
“Thanks hun. I finally got it done. It only took me three years! Left the house this morning without even touching it.”
I tell her I wish my hair would behave the same way.
“Well it looks great on top but underneath is a whole other story!” She pulls the top layers aside to show the tangles of knots hidden at the nape of her neck.
“The top is all that matters!”
We laugh together. The boys scurry out of the pool, blue-lipped and goose-bumped, and we wrap towels around their shivering bodies.
And as I scrub the shampoo through my son’s hair in the changing room showers, I ponder over my seemingly humorous comment, and its’ ugly truth. The top is all that matters. I feel slightly stupid for saying it, but even more so ashamed that I often believe it – caring more about the surface appearance of things in my life than what lies beneath. How many times have I put more effort into the state of my hair than the state of my heart?
You spread out our sins before you – our secret sins – and you see them all. (Psalm 90:8)
When my first son was just four months old he had a serious case of “cradle cap”. Dry, yellow scales covered the top of his head. He’d tug and pull at his hair with his chubby little fingers, trying to relieve himself of the itchiness. One day I took him into the bathroom with a comb and a jar of coconut oil. I’d had enough, and so had he. Sitting down on the edge of the toilet with him on my lap I went to work. I wet his hair and massaged the oil onto his dry scalp. I slowly combed over the scales, front to back, watching them peal away in greasy yellow clumps, trying my hardest not to gag. Rinse and repeat. And stroke by stroke by stroke my son’s scalp became smoother. He whined as his skin quickly turned sore and red. I hushed him, rocking him on my knees as his blue, curious eyes peered up at me, trying to figure out what I was doing. He had no idea. I turned his head away from looking into the sink where strands of hair and scales were floating.
And all the while I was thinking, could someone please take a fine-toothed comb to me? Scrape from me what has long been dried up and dead? Then I’d be better, then I’d be free.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)
Behold the Lamb of God
Who takes away our sin, who takes away our sin
The preschooler is belting out these lyrics as he and his Dad play chase together in the basement. The David Crowder song, a favourite in our house as of late, is blasting from the speakers. My son’s high, squeaky voice echoes through the floor boards, finding me in the upstairs bathroom where I am bathing the toddler. His soft brown curls covered in white soapy bubbles. He splashes and laughs as I gently pour water over his back. I watch the droplets drip from his smooth skin, his glistening skin. The world slows in moments like these, and tears well in my eyes. Could this really be the image of how the Father sees me – his child? Completely, entirely, wholly innocent and pure. Could it really be that there is absolutely nothing I could do, no stain I could bear, that could ever scare him away, or make him gag at the sight. Could He really care this much for me?
For I was born a sinner – yes, from the moment my mother conceived me…Purify me from my sins and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:5, 7)
When it comes to my kids, as soon as one bath ends the next one rolls around in no time. They are clean, and then, sometimes only seconds later, are dirty once again. One lesson you quickly learn as a parent is that very young children do not always wait until they are out of the bathtub to, well, use the bathroom.
Rinse and repeat.
I’d like to think I am a little more in control of my cleanliness than my 18 month old, but the truth of the matter is I am not.
The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin…I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.(Romans 7:14,18-19)
So what’s a girl to do? I’ve gotta keep coming back to the One who cleanses me. Over and over and over again.
Rinse and repeat.
Just like my son and his cradle cap, I am not always aware of the dirt I carry. My kids rely on me, as their mother and one who sees things they cannot, to notice when they are in need of a bath. In the same way, if I believe I am God’s child, I must look to him for this guidance in my own life. I’ll probably come to realize that I’m in need of a bath much more often than I think. The good news is that when I put my trust in him, He is willing to turn on the tap whenever I ask.
I’ve got to allow His hand on my life, for it is actually Him at work in me that gives me “the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13). I’ve got to push through my weakness, my selfishness, coming to my knees again and again, offering up this prayer and trying my darnedest to listen for an answer:
Search me, O God, and know my heart.; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (Psalm 139:23-24)