As I look in my rear view mirror I see the heavy eyes of my 3 year old daughter looking back at me. Her tired head is leaning against the side of her car seat as she fights to keep her sleepy eyes open. Her little blonde head is all disheveled and she has a thick purple ring around her entire mouth. She is one hot mess..

We’re minutes from home and she lets out a whiny squeal. “Daddy….. my tummy hurts.”

She’s in the middle of a phase where everything hurts, all the time, even when it doesn’t. It’s gotten to the point where before responding with TLC and empathy I usually ask a few probing questions to discern if she really does hurt or whether or not I’m getting played.

So while we are sitting at a stop light I look back and gently ask, “How come your tummy hurts?”

If you were to have seen her in this moment, with the purple ring around her mouth, you would have most likely drawn the conclusion that she had been eating candy all afternoon which was causing her tummy to hurt. However, you would be wrong.

lip glossHer aunt and uncle were in town and they gave her a set of “princess” make up as gift. And for the previous 2 hours she had been circling her mouth with the lip gloss that came with the set. So when I asked her why her tummy hurt, she said, “I think it’s from too much lip gloss.”

Now, whether or not your tummy can hurt from too much lip gloss, I have no idea. But what I found funny in that moment was just after she identified the lip gloss being the cause of her upset tummy, with her tired head still leaning against the side of her car seat, she lifted the lip gloss from her lap and began to apply even more to her mouth.

In the form of a question I repeated her conclusion back to her. “Too much lip gloss huh?”

Weakly puckering her lips from her recent application, she responded with a drawn out, “Yeeaaah.”

And right away I thought, even as adults who supposedly “know better” we do the exact same thing. Probably not with lip gloss, but with substances, food, relationship, patterns of laziness, etc… We can identify that these things and people are hurting us more than helping us, but we repeatedly go back to them. Sometimes even immediately after we recognize their harm.

The question is why? And we all have our different reasons. Fear, familiarity, addiction, lack of vision for something new and better. Whatever the case, we all have our patterns of unhealthy and unhelpful behavior. And when we get stuck in those patterns we need to be willing to submit to someone or some community of people who can lead us out of it.

Now, whether or not her tummy really was upset, I’m not sure. If it was, she recovered pretty quickly when her neighborhood friends came knocking on our door asking her to come play. But when we got home I suggested that since her tummy hurt, I should probably take her lip gloss for a little while so her tummy could rest. Sometimes that’s when her tantrums are at their worst. She is so obsessed with her new toy that she can’t imagine letting it go, even if there’s the promise of getting it back. But on that day she willingly agreed and handed it over.

So the question for you is,
1. What are those unhealthy and unhelpful things in your life?
2. Are you willing to submit yourself to someone who can lead you into something better?

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