We've been potty training our oldest, Micah, (seriously) for the last two months. This week, I think it finally clicked. We are on Day 3 without an accident. I've still been putting him in a diaper during naps and nighttime and today he even woke up dry (praise hands!)
During this process though, I have tried many different things. Building up the initial excitement of buying underwear, candy after every potty-attempt and then eventually I went to a sticker chart. And that's what, I believe, really helped him gain the endurance. He had to earn his reward. 1 sticker for pee, 2 stickers for poo and once he accumulated 10 stickers he got to pick out a prize from a little toy box (if you're not a parent, stick with me, I have a point to all this potty-talk).
Giving Micah the reward was exciting (not only for him, but for me too!) after all, he had earned it. But there were little eyes watching - and eventually the inevitable happened and little sister, Hannah, wanted in on this reward business too! So each time Micah got a prize, Hannah was right there beside him receiving one too. She is only 17 months old, so I knew she was too young and would never be able to do enough to earn hers (I did try sitting her on the potty - it was very foreign and humorous!) But because I love her, I reward her any way.
As I was pondering on this today, something "clicked" for me. God's grace is a lot like that reward. And we are all like my little Hannah - underserving.
He knew we could never do enough to "make it" to heaven. Heaven is a place of perfection, where God exists and sin does not. So in order for us to live eternally with Him, he chose to give us grace freely through paying the price of our sin, by the blood of Jesus. We just have to accept it.
That connection hit me like a ton of bricks.
I think there are a lot of us out there who are trying to live on a reward-based system with God. And while I do believe that our Father is rooting us on when we do good works, because He LOVES to see His children walking in obedience, if we're not careful, we can become like my son Micah (when he hasn't had his nap) and turn judgemental and envious and prideful and condemning of our brothers and sisters who get the same reward of grace, but have done nothing to earn it.
I know every analogy falls short. But if I've learned anything over these last several months - it's that potty-training and grace have a lot in common. And Lord knows, I've been praying for both.