Toddler Theology: Stolen Water is Sweet
Stolen Water is Sweet
One of our favorite mommy/toddler past-times lately is baking together. I mentally/spiritually prepare beforehand by asking God to help me with my control issues and helicopter-parenting tendencies, and I let Enna crack the eggs, measure the flour, mix the dough, and make a MESS! She LOVES it (and I am learning to love it, too!) and we get to make some really sweet memories together.
Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.
Making chocolate chip cookies is our favorite. Enna especially likes the part where we add the chocolate chips because she always gets a few for snacking. She likes it so much that sometimes, if she is really lucky, we will even pull out the chocolate chips and have a few “snacking chips” on days that we aren’t baking.
Recently, during one of these special “chocolate chip snack times,” I cut Enna off after her usual 3-4 chips. I was preoccupied with another task at the time, so instead of putting the bag away like I normally do, I left it open on the counter. Enna, perched next to her greatest temptation, couldn’t help but notice the opportunity it invited.
“Mama, can I have some more chocolate chips?” She asked, in her sweetest asking voice. “Pleeease?!”
I thought about it for a moment, taking a survey of her sugar intake. “No, Enna, not now. Right now we need to be done with sugary snacks for a while.”
I watched her out of the corner of my eye, still engaged with my task, and noticed the sidelong glances she kept giving the open chocolate chip bag. A moment passed, and she piped up again.
“Mama, what if I took another chocolate chip when you were not looking?”
It was hard for me not to laugh at the innocent, earnestness of this question. I love her so much! I knew she wanted to take another chocolate chip. My heart was glad that she restrained her desire to a conversation. I dried my hands and sat down with her at the table, praying in my heart for help in teaching her.
“Well,” I looked in her wide, waiting blue eyes, “if I told you no more chocolate chips, and you took another one in secret, two things would happen. The first is that you would eat a yummy chocolate chip, and it would taste really good, and while you were tasting it in your mouth you would get to have that tasty taste for a second!
“But then you would swallow it down to your belly and the taste would be gone. And then the second thing would happen. When we do things we know not to do, our minds and hearts work hard to tell us that is not a good choice. Your mind and heart would begin to feel yucky feelings. Instead of feeling free and happy around Mama like you do now, you would feel guilty. It might even feel like a little wall came up between you and mama in your heart, because that’s how hurtful secrets can feel. The yummy taste would happen very fast and then be gone, but the bad feeling that would come next would stay for a long time – until you came to mommy to say sorry, and then mommy would forgive and give you a consequence to help you learn.
“You see, Enna, every chance to get what you want is like a door that has a face, but it also has an inside. The face might seem really pretty, but you have to listen and think about what will happen inside to see if it will give you a true good thing. Learn to listen at the door of your wants and your choices. If the whole choice is truly good it will bring good and not bad when you follow it. But some wants and some choices will try to trick you.”
I extended my hands before her. “You can think about two choices for the chocolate chips.
“On one hand you could take one in secret, eating alone for a yummy taste that would disappear in a flash, and then leave you feeling yucky and guilty, needing to tell mommy sorry and have a consequence.
“On the other hand you could obey me, letting go of the chocolate chip right now, which might feel really hard, but it will not feel yucky, and sometime later we can enjoy eating some more chocolate chips together in freedom and joy!”
Enna looked at the two hands stretched before her and then grinned as she put both of her hands into the hand of obedience! Praise the Lord!
Reflecting on this conversation humbles me in the hope and prayer that I will always restrain my desires to a conversation with my Father. He counsels us, in our “chocolate chip” moments, according to His Word:
Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life.
Proverbs 8:1-35 (abridged)