When I was a child I wet the bed. My parents tried to be patient, but once I was in kindergarten their well of patience ran dry. They tried many things: no beverage with dinner; no asparagus (!?); in bed early—before my little sister. By first grade I knew how to strip a bed, put the sheets in washer and start it. I was too little to reach in and take them out, so I was off the hook for the dryer. None of this worked.
They resorted to badgering and shaming. It accomplished nothing. I didn’t want to wet the bed! My pediatrician Dr. Ibsen gently told my mom, “She’ll grow out of it. Just be patient.” I wanted to go live with him.
I was still wetting the bed in seventh grade. That summer I made a new best friend. She had just moved to California from Florida. I asked my mom if she could sleep over. My mom gave me a look that said, “It’s your funeral,” because a sleepover meant we would sleep in my double bed. Then she said, “And you’re changing the sheets.”
My parents didn’t understand that bed wetting was not the only thing happening in my life. I was trying to make friends and deal with algebra and acne. I needed support and encouragement but all they could talk about was me wetting the bed. I was hungry for comfort.
I think all of us are hungry for comfort right now. There are so many things going on in each of our personal lives. We struggle with our rapidly changing world. We crave connection after so many months of isolation. We’re trying to learn, change and live into our realizations about life without making a mistake. But, oh, shoot—we’re human.
So let’s drag Jesus into it. John 8:11 tells us how the scribes and Pharisees brought him a woman caught in adultery. They said, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses commands us to stone such. What do you say about her?”
After scribbling in the dirt with his finger, he told them, ““Let they who are without sin cast the first stone.” Understandably everybody beat it out of there. So then he asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” That was it! No shame, no judgement, no humiliation.
Whether it’s racial justice issues, COVID mask-wearing, climate change or vaccinations, it doesn’t work to shame people into change or transformation. Compassion, understanding, comfort. I wish my parents had given me that.
So I did have the sleepover with my new friend. And I wet the bed. I was mortified. I thought I would die of shame. I confessed to her immediately.
“Oh, at first I thought you were sweaty,” she said. “And then I thought you were so tired you couldn’t wake up.” I started crying and she put her arm around me. “It’s okay. I know you didn’t do it on purpose. I’ll help you change the sheets.” Compassion, understanding, comfort.
I never wet the bed again.