Once you become a parent, you sign lots of superfluous paperwork in the hospital. Mothers do not actually read the fine print, or the large print for that matter, for they are too busy wondering how they just gave birth to a baby whose head could fit on Mount Rushmore. Fathers are busy recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after watching a birth scene more graphic than a Quentin Tarantino blockbuster. Thus, the postpartum recovery is the ideal time to have stunned new parents sign unfavorable documents.
After bringing a baby into the world, you must sign the Renunciation of Words contract. This agreement states that once your child is old enough to comprehend the meaning of words, such words will then enter one ear and depart the other, ricochet off the walls, and leap to their untimely death out the window. The earth is a rich graveyard of unheeded words, a garden of parental advice and instruction that will never be harvested.
Eventually children grow up and start searching frantically for the compost pile of this advice. We all wish we had listened and paid better attention when our parents were trying to teach us something worthwhile. Sometimes that moment surfaces when we take our first turkey out of the oven and it looks like a shrunken head from an Amazon tribe.
God knows exactly how it feels as a parent to have His children ignore His commands. In the beginning, He instructed Adam and Eve to stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We all know how that played out. These were His first kids, so He gave verbal instructions for them to follow. After they disobeyed and He drove them out of the Garden, He opted for cherubim guards and the neon sign of a flaming sword. Millions of kids later, He wisely decided to post all of His instructions in written form.
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
One day this week when we were preparing to leave the beach, I instructed my children to wash themselves off in the water. They gladly followed my advice, since splashing in the water is fun and requires minimal self-discipline. I started gathering our equipment, and looked up to see all three kids rolling in the sand, with more mud on them than a barnyard pig after a rain storm. I sent them back to the water, but they just didn’t get it. Three times I gave the orders, and three times they came out of the water and played in the sand. By the fourth time, even the seagulls were washing themselves and obeying my instructions.
Then I realized the problem. The fun of playing in the sand was more enticing than following parental advice. “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” It started with Adam and Eve, but we each have our own recipe for mud pies. We form them with the abandoned soil from the Garden of Advice.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.