I pick my nose.
Ok, there, I said it. But what are you supposed to do when there’s a big booger just chillin’ up there restricting all the oxygen from getting to your brain? I mean, maybe I do it because the socially respectable part of my mind is just oxygen deprived. It’s just plain survival!
Now, i don’t eat it. I don’t wipe it on my pants or stick it under a desk or anything. But if we’re going to just be straight up honest, I’ve been known to pull debris out my nasal cavity. Sometimes some fairly large and impressive debris.
But, I do have boundaries. I’ll touch all my own snot (and then shake your hand . . . think about that), but in no way do I want to have personal contact with the mucous in your nose. That would just be disgusting.
So, I was reading a story to my daughter the other night when something wet dripped on the book. It was a very deep and intellectual book entitled, “That’s Not My Puppy” and so naturally I was concerned. When I looked up, I saw my 10-month-old daughter rubbing her face as a river of clear snot ran out her nose, down her chin and fell softly, pooling up on the book page.
Now, my first instinct is to be a little grossed out. For instance, should you come over to my house and blow your nose all over a book that I’m reading to you, I’d probably be a little offended (because we do have kleenex available-with lotion to prevent chaffing), and I’d likely show you the outside of my front door (however, you would get to take the book home with you). There are certain aspects of your life that I’m really comfortable just leaving to your care and that I’d rather not be invited to.
And yet, as absolutely gross as I find another person’s snot, there is something about my relationship with my daughter that is causing me to suspend all the normal things I would avoid participating in with any other person. There is an element of messiness, filth and indecency that I find myself willing to engage in with Paytyn, sometimes without even a second thought . . .
So, I did that night what had to be done. My daughter needed her nose wiped. And because she hates the little booger-sucker thing and won’t hold still long enough for me to use it. And since there was very little supplies at hand. I took my hand and started to pull the snot out of her nose with my bare fingers. For several minutes I pulled gobs of clear goo out of her soft, little nose. It was like excavating a pudding container with your fingers. Turns out, though, it’s more effective than that stupid aspirator anyway.
Gross? Maybe. But, since I had left her burp rag downstairs and was too lazy to walk back down and get it, I did what any good dad would do and wiped it on my pant leg! Now, I don’t wipe my own snot there, but apparently that’s where I’m willing to showcase Paytyn’s. It’s as if being a dad is turning me into some sort of weird savage caveman. I pull snot out of noses and wipe it on my leg. I wipe amazingly foul-smelling poop off the butt of another human being. I’ve been thrown up on more times than I can remember (the worst of which is always when I’m not wearing a shirt). And yet, I keep reading stories, changing diapers, and take every moment I can to hold my daughter, knowing that all the messiness is sure to come again.
And so as I layed her down to sleep that night and headed downstairs to put my snot-crusted jeans in the wash, I thought about what I’ve become . . .
I’ve become a lover. I’ve become a dad. I’ve become a fan. And no matter what kind of dirt and grime and disgusting adventures I’m pulled into, I’m willing to go (even though it isn’t my preference) because I am so totally in love with this little girl. I’m willing to get as dirty as it takes to have a relationship with her.
Have you ever thought of God like that? Have you ever thought of the mud and the dirt and the filth that we pull him into? Have you ever thought of the snot and the poo that we expose Him to? The gossip. The messy break-ups. The wars. The greed. The dishonesty. The betrayals. The hypocrisy. The self-centeredness. The hatred.
And what if in the midst of all this vulgarity, God is not standing on the outside of the earth, keeping Himself clean and tidy while condemning us with displeasure. But, what if where you find God is right here in the middle of the mud, knee deep in the poo, wiping snot all over his pants. What if God desires so much better of us, and yet is willing to do whatever takes–to get as dirty as necessary–to have a relationship with you. With me.
What if God is willing to go to any extreme to help us wipe our nose?
One of my favorite verses these days is Romans 5:7-8. It is here that Paul talks about who God has become because of us: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
While we were still sinners . . . I like that.
It reminds me that no matter how cultured and religious I think I am, I’m right down in the mud with everyone else. It reminds me that no matter how dirty I get, God’s first thought of me is always love and not condemnation. It reminds me that even when I think I’m too messed up and broken to be useful or desired by anyone, let alone God, that he is much closer than I realize. It reminds me that He won’t wait until I get all cleaned-up to “demonstrate” or “prove” His love for me, but that in some strange fatherly way, He proves it by loving me in the mud.
And it reminds me that God will go to any length to clean me up, even if it means getting dirt, snot or even blood all over his clothes.
And so may you remember, whenever you come across these words, that your Dad is not too distant to know your struggles. He is not too stodgy to wipe your nose. He is willing to take steps to you long before you take steps to Him.
I just hope Paytyn grows up knowing the same thing.