Clean Up the Poop Before the Cheerios

By Zach Goodrow

I started my writing career by writing letters to my niece. I wrote to her because I knew that writing advice as an uncle is easier than writing advice as a father. And I haven’t seen anything yet that has disproved my initial thoughts.

However, I went through a parenting fail recently that I need to let everyone know about. In fact, I failed so intensely that other people need to know about it, so they don’t fail. You get my drift?

So here’s what happened and the context behind it. As a dad, part of my job is to teach my children to obey authorities. Children should obey parents. Christians should obey governing authorites. And all people should obey God. Of course any but the last can lead to sin, at which point we “obey God rather than man”, to quote a wise old fisherman.

But as a general rule of thumb, it is good and godly for Christians to obey authority.

So, I am trying to teach my almost two-year-old to obey authority. Namely, his mother and me.

Also, to get my wife off the metaphorical chopping block, she wasn’t at home for this failure. She was helping make other peoples’ kids godly. So, she’s cooler than me.

Now, here’s what happened. The boy and I were hanging out at the house just after dinner. We’re winding down and getting the young one ready for bed. Tarzan was on in the background so that he could see what it’s like to be brave and also be good to women. You know, the works. During the midst of all this, I noticed two things simultaneously.

The first was this. He had spilled the Cheerio’s he was eating earlier. I don’t know when they were spilled, I just noticed that there were Cheerio’s in a place where Cheerio’s aren’t supposed to be: the ground.

The second was that he had dirtied his diaper in the least conveinent way of dirtying his diaper.

Remember the obedience to authority thing? So did I. Which meant I told him to clean up the Cheerios before I changed his diaper. In my head, the severity of not being obedient overided the severity of a poopy diaper. The issue was, in the triumph of his obedience, he sat down to clean up the Cheerios.

So even though my son filled me with pride because of his obedience, his diaper was thoroughly filled with bodily disobedience, if you smell what I’m stepping in.

And that’s where I learned: Clean up the poop before the Cheerio’s. Because that is what God and the church do for us.

I am an imperfect father. Clearly. But God is the only perfect Father and what he does for us is the exact opposite of what I did for my kid. He removes the filth, that is sin to be clear, from us by washing us in the blood of Christ. And then works on making us more obedient.

To further the analogy, God removes the filthy, rag-like, shame coverer of our sin and puts us in the fresh and unstainable covering of Christ and his goodness.

God does expect obedience. He even commands it, and the best thing we can do is obey him. But we cannot obey him enough to clean ourselves, and we must have him clean us in order to be saved. The obedience must come, but only after the believer is cleaned.

I fail my son as a father. I did today by letting him sit in poop for the sake of obedience. And I will continue to fail him. But I know that if I point him to Christ, all of my failures and lapses in judgement will be redeemed and restored by the blood of the Lamb. The way Christ can redeem today’s failure is through this article, I hope. My son won’t remember this day, but I will. And the story will probably make my family laugh for decades to come.

But my son is now clean. And he is also obedient. Both of which are crucial for children in the households of the world and the household of God. The difference is, a kid in God’s house has been cleaned once and will remain clean forever. Divine blood has a strange way of removing stains.

But the kids in my house will need to be cleaned daily. That’s alright though because while he is learning how to clean and to obey, I am learning what matters and what matters most. Until next time, here’s to the laughs that come only through failures,



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