Toddlers and Our Dirty Hands | Isabelle Ingalls

“Bell-wup, Bell-wup!” my little brother calls, his toddler feet pattering across the wooden floor. Almost four and talking so well, yet my name has retained its babyish suffix. “I have dirty hands!” he proclaims sadly, holding them up for me to see. So I’ll help him up onto his stool in front of the sink, turning on the water and providing soap at the correct times.

But I sigh good-naturedly as I do so. Because this is the third time he’s done the exact same thing in fifteen minutes. And each and every time, no matter how hard I look, I can’t find anything on his hands. There’s no dirt. There’s no mud. There’s no smudges. He’s been playing with a mask, so maybe he brushed some glitter off, but even that I cannot see.

Yet he’s insistent that his hands are dirty. And if his hands are dirty, he knows they need to be washed.

Now, a toddler wanting to be continuously cleaned isn’t a big deal (in fact, I should probably be thankful, because the next little one will likely be the exact opposite). I’ll laugh at him and let him splash around and delight in the water that flows so freely out of the tap. But he’s not the only one who gets messy.

Because my hands are often dirty too. Not with physical dirt and germs, but with sin. With mistakes. With wrongs.

And yes, we know we all sometimes slip and land in the mud, the mire coming up to our elbows. We know we need to be washed then. But often it’s the little dirt that we pass over. I tell a little white lie (as if such a thing exists). I allow my anger to make me snap out, to just cross that line for a moment. I cut those corners because I just don’t feel like it today. I slip into gossip and condemnation. But we don’t see those as big deals. If someone else looked, they couldn’t really see it. But it’s still there. We still feel it. We still know our hands are dirty. Yet we allow it.

“It’s not a big deal,” we tell ourselves. “It’s just something little; I don’t need to go wash.” But that’s not true. We all know what happens when we don’t scrub our hands with soap and water. Germs and dirt build up and creep in. They start to make you sick, affecting every part of your body. Your strength is weakened; your energy is sapped. If that’s true with the physical, how much more so with the spiritual? When we allow sin to cling, its stench can start spreading to everything else.

Fortunately, the blood of Christ is the best cleanser there is.

The cross isn’t just for our big mirey disgusting sins, it’s for all of them––because in God’s eyes, all of them are. His renewing isn’t just for Sunday morning and revival tents, it’s also for Wednesday woes and backseat bickering. We can’t come to him too often. There’s never an over amount of cleansing. Three times in fifteen minutes isn’t too often to wash yourself. We need Him every hour, every moment, every breath.

Yes, some days it seems like the need to return to His cleansing flow, again and again, is endless. If you’ve never had one of those days, then you’re either a saint or have never worked with children. Or siblings. Or just people in general.

But that’s okay. Because He calls us to come. Come and laugh in His love, rejoice in His forgiveness, delight in the living water that flows so freely. Douse yourself daily in His grace, come ever to the fount of all goodness.

We’re just little children, lisping out our pleas to our Lord. But when we come to Him, crying Abba, holding out our dirty hands, He gently leads us to the fountain and cleanses them Himself.

 

Isabelle Ingalls is a 20-year old writer seeking to see the reminder and reflection of Christ’s glorious Gospel in all of life. As a homeschool graduate, when she’s not writing, you can find her working with children, singing and dancing around the house, and discussing theology with friends over hot chocolate. A writer for both The Rebelution and Top Christian Books, she shares on singleness, adoption, Narnia, thunderstorms, stories, and Christian Living at her blog Seeing Everything Else.

Letting Go of My To-Do List

Today I would like to introduce y’all to my first guest poster – Grace. 

Grace M. is a writer, piano-player, sunset-lover, and baker. She enjoys playing volleyball, eating sour gummy worms, and spending time with her family. She blogs about Christian living at Tizzies Tidbits.

 

I am one of those people that has an organized-in-theory kind of life. One of the organized-in-theory parts of my life is my to-do list. In fact, I may have To-Do List Syndrome. For instance, writing this blog post is on my to-do list; and as soon as I finish it, I’m going to cross through this task and do a mental happy dance.

But I make to-do lists too often and don’t complete the tasks on my to-do lists often enough. I have so much to do! I have to register for classes, practice piano, write a new article, and the list goes on. There’s always more to do. As soon as I feel satisfied because I finished a big job, I realize there are six more “big jobs” to do.

I don’t have the perfect solution to make your life less hectic, but I do know that you can be satisfied with work because it is actually good for you!

“But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:10b-13, NASB).

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, NASB).

It’s good to have work to do! It provides purpose (and food) in your life. If you have too much time on your hands, it’s easy to give into sin, like Peter mentioned in 2 Thessalonians. God graciously gave us work so that we wouldn’t be bored at home all day and so we could have food on our tables and roofs over our heads. It’s easy to daydream about a long day at home with nothing to do. However, a lifestyle like that would become boring very fast; and we’d probably feel depressed and purposeless.

But that’s only one end of the spectrum. What about the other end? Is there such a thing as putting too much emphasis on work? Of course!

I think most of us give ourselves too many tasks to complete. If you’re anything like me, you shoot high but usually end up low. I set so many goals for a day, but I only end up meeting a few of them. Then I feel like I’ve wasted all of my time (and usually I have wasted a large part of it) and that I’ll never get anything accomplished.

It’s hard to find the balance between having too many goals and not having enough goals, but this balance is important. Ideally, you’ll be busy enough to feel purposeful but not so busy that you’ll constantly feel stressed.

Don’t worry. You’ll find the balance. It may take time to find it, but the balance is there.

To-do lists are not evil. In fact, they can be incredibly helpful. Checking off a task brings satisfaction. Just remember that making your goals too important is sinful. Our most important goal should be to bring glory to God by completing the tasks He sets before us.

God gave us work for a reason. We struggle with it because of sin, but it keeps us busy. It gives us purpose, but working ourselves to death is silly and exhausting. Set realistic expectations for yourself, and if you don’t reach every one of your goals, shake it off and work on it tomorrow.

For His Great Name
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