Fig Leaves for Lunch

"Ronies! Ronies! Ronies!"

"Yes, I'm getting you some pepperonis. Can you say please?"

"Peeeeese. Miylk! Miylk! More miylk...peeeese."

"Yes, and I'll get you some milk too."

My favorite lunches growing up were the ones resembling Lunchables in the pre-Lunchables era: no sectioned box, but four or five finger foods arrayed on a plate, a mini-feast for a mighty king. I try to recreate the same for my toddler Addi each day at lunch and our conversation is full of her narrating the action or making requests.

We started this day off with a little stack of the tiny pepperonis (Ronies!), a sippy jug of milk, and a half-dozen grapes (Gapes!). I add a handful of veggie chips, some almonds, and a slice of colby jack cheese (Cheeeeez!). She tends to grab the Ronies and stuff them in her mouth like a greedy Chipmunk in winter, then pick from the other food piles over the next half hour, taking time to drop a grape or smash some cheese in her hair as she chatters non-stop about the world around her.

This day I arranged her buffet on the high chair tray and went outside to check the mail. I returned to a silent kitchen. No chatter. The food looked untouched, sitting in lonely piles. Addi saw me and grabbed the side of the high chair with one hand, pulling her face to the side, trying to hide from me.

"Addi, what's wrong honey?"

Buries her face more in the highchair.

"Addi? What happened? What's wrong?"

A whimper communicating she didn't want to talk.

"Look at me Addi. What's wrong? Talk to me."

Radiating embarrassment, she faced me, chin dropping low.

"Are you hurt?"

"No."

"Are you scared?"

"No."

I can't figure out what's going on, but I do see a small booger appear out of one nostril as she talks. I grab a tissue.

"Honey, I need to blow your nose."

"Nuh-uh." A shake of the head, and she buries her face again.

"Addi, let me blow your nose."

A shameful turning of her face and I put the tissue on her nose.

"Blow."

"Owwwww," she says.

"Did that hurt?"

"Yeah."

That wasn't a booger I saw. "Addi, did you put an almond up your nose?"

Shame.

"Yeah." Hides her face again.

"Daddy needs to get it out. Look at me."

I hold the tissue higher up on her nose and ask her to blow again. She says "owww" as the almond slides out like an egg from a chicken.

"There you go. Daddy got it. Does that feel better?"

"Yeah," she says and grabs a chip.

"Don't do that again, Addi. Do you understand? Don't do that again. Okay, Daddy?"

"Okay, Daddy."

And like that we were back to normal eating, normal conversation and normal relationship (after a brief moment where I left the room to laugh of course.)

Addi and I enjoy our meal times together, interacting, laughing, pretending, and learning words and songs. I did not like the silent kitchen and I most certainly did not like seeing my joyful toddler hiding in shame.

Shame. Where did she learn that? I don't know where she learned it but I do know when she learned it--when that almond went up that nostril. Things were not right and she knew she had done something unnatural with the almond.

Was I angry? Not really. I was more worried I wouldn't be able to get it out and we'd have to spend some deductible and many hours navigating an emergency room. I wanted to help her, and help meant no almond in the nose but also the removal of her shame. I had no desire for my sweet daughter to live embarrassed and isolated. I did not delight in the idea of her "learning her lesson" only by hiding from fellowship with me for the next week until I made my point that nuts do not belong in nostrils.

Did we just experience the concept of sin and wrath together? Some perhaps would see total depravity in this nasal catastrophe...

What I did experience, as an imperfect father, was how much God wants us to be in relationship with himself and how strongly he desires to remove our shame.

Did you shove an almond up your nose?

Did you eat from that tree?

Humans still wear fig-leaves of shame and God still comes looking for us in the tangled garden of life. He comes not to curse us anymore but comes instead as the Father with ring, robe, and a heart to remove shame.

The difference is Christ: His life, death and resurrection. The great news is Jesus is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being. (Hebrews 1:3)

We sin. We also do dumb, unwise things like shoving the wrong objects up metaphorical sinus canals. We realize it's wrong, both from the pain and awkwardness it creates...but we can't remove the source of hurt by ourselves...

Turn and receive the grace of God. He wants things to be right more than you do and only He can remove shame.

Hebrews 4 says He sits on the throne of grace...stop hiding from Him like He rules from the throne of wrath. Come and taste the ronies of the Lord and know that He is good.