How Many Times Do You Put Your Fingers In Your Mouth Every Day?
“I have water on my finger,” my three-year-old says from the backseat.
I cock a brow and glance in the rearview mirror.
“How do you have water on your finger?” I ask.
“From my water cup,” she answers, like it’s obvious.
But before we got in the van, I stuffed the water cups into the diaper bag and shoved all of it on the floor. Out of reach.
“You don’t have your water cup,” I say. “Are you telling me the truth?”
“Elizabeth, tell me the truth.”
“I am telling the truth…” her voice gets quieter, barely audible over the radio. “…that I put my fingers in my mouth.”
I shake my head in the driver’s seat. We’ve gone over this a billion times, but for some reason she can’t help herself. The kid sticks her hand in there so often, her fingertips are as much of a permanent mouth fixture as her teeth. When she first started doing it, I grimaced at the grossness. Then I tried shouting. Now, I simply remove her fingers, clean them, and direct her to use them for something else. Something she loves. Something that gives her joy instead of germs.
“Baby, that’s not water in your mouth, remember? That’s spit. They’re different.”
“It’s not water,” she echoes, “but it is soft.”
If I had looked up, I may have seen a lightbulb flicker on above me.
Finally—after almost an entire year of cringing and shrieking, “TAKE YOUR HANDS OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!“—finally I know why she caresses her tongue.
She likes the feel of her own spit.
To her, it doesn’t matter if her hands are covered in filth from a morning at the playground or the floor of a doctor’s office. She has no concept of the ensuing repercussions. She doesn’t understand how ill it could make her or the fact that—in extreme cases—if she puts the wrong stuff in her mouth, it could be a death sentence. She only cares about one thing.
The spit in her mouth is soft. And she wants to touch it.
And don’t we all?
Every single one of us has our own spit that we like to touch. It’s called sin. And sometimes we can’t help ourselves from touching it over and over and over. (If you don’t believe me, come to confession and watch me repent again for the same things I screwed up last time.)
Because here’s the truth: Sin doesn’t come with bright, flashing warning signs and a picture of a skull with crossbones.
Sin feels soft. And we want to touch it.
I reach for it, even when my Father cringes and tells me to keep my fingers out of my mouth. I can’t possibly understand the real repercussions of a sin-stained soul. I don’t know how ill it could make me or the fact that it could be my own death sentence.
But God knows. And, out of love, He has fought to keep me clean. He removes my fingers, cleans me, and directs me to use them for something else. Something that gives me joy instead of death. Something more like Him.
And that’s way better than anything else I could reach for.