toddlers and trash

Let me paint a little picture for you.

I’m sitting outside at a coffee shop/bar.  It’s one of those perfect Austin days (as long as you can hold your breath so that the allergies don’t silently destroy you).

A man just propped open the patio door with his body, making room for a chunky toddler to waddle out.   I’m not good with ages, but i’m guessing this little chubster was around 2.

It’s sweet, but inefficient that the dad lets him walk by himself.  A lot of drama could have been prevented if the father just carried his kid to the table where his wife was waiting with delicious looking scones.  But the kid is at that age where he seems pretty proud of the fact that he can perform the most unimpressive tasks by himself (like walking) and it’s kind of a delight to watch him totter around doing his version of strutting.

In the few seconds it took for the dad to make sure the door closed behind them, the kid wobbled off like some drunk old man. He wanted nothing to do with following his father’s instructions on how to get to the table and scones.  Instead, he made an uncoordinated bee line for the closest food, which happened to be in the bin where people discard their leftovers.   Within seconds, his grubby little hands were digging through the trash grabbing half-eaten food.

Here’s what happened next:

Dad says: Hey! Kid! Stop.

Kid squeals indignantly and keeps digging.

Dad grabs kid’s hand and chokes down a chuckle to say loudly and forcefully: Stop kid! That’s trash!

Kid transitions from squeals to screams as he stomps his feet and reaches for trash once again.

Dad finally resorts to using his physical strength to restrain the kid from eating trash.  Kid starts crying as dad carries him away from the bin toward the waiting and (still delicious looking) scones.


And here I sit.  Watching all this.  Thinking about the sneakiness of a God who loves metaphors so much that He built a world full of them.  Thinking of how hard it would be to run from a God like this: who displays Himself in everything, who constantly has people act out our relationship right in front of me.

Of course, I can’t help but wish He’d written my character in this little play to be tad more dashing and a hair less clumsy.

In this metaphor, I’m a squealing toddler, hand in the trash, eating leftover discarded food because I just don’t trust my dad that He has better for me.  I am this screaming kid, fighting his father at every turn, viewing him as the enemy because he stands between me and garbage.  I think He’s trying to keep me from food, but He’s trying to give me better food.  I think He’s taking me the opposite direction from what I want, but it’s only because I am too short to see what’s on the table He’s taking me toward.

Still, somehow, in this metaphor, I’m adorable.  And maybe that’s a matter of opinion.  Maybe not everyone watching would think so.  But I’ll tell you what isn’t up for debate: I’m adored.  Reprimanded, restrained, even removed, but never rejected.  Every time I push away I’m drawn closer and held more tightly by Him.

My God is a great playwright, and a better father than any this world has ever seen. Keep your eyes open today.  He’s writing stories everywhere you look to point you to Him.


One thought on “toddlers and trash

  1. I work with young children on almost a daily basis and only in recent years have I realized how many metaphors and object lessons God reveals to me through the lives of and interactions with these little ones. On quite a few occasions, I’ll find myself face-palming and saying, “Alright Lord, I get it…I get it,” but I’m super thankful for these ‘light bulb’ moments as they so often encourage me and strengthen my faith. Thanks for sharing your insights…I now must go and read many more of your blogposts!

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