Ask any parent of a baby or toddler and they will probably tell you that by the end of the day, they are totally spent. The amount of energy expended during our child’s waking hours almost completely wipes us out. If we were cars running on gas, by the end of the day our “E” light would be bright and blinking. And on some unfortunate days, we get there well before bedtime. But when Mom and Dad finally get to that golden hour when the children go to bed for the night, we usually sink onto the couch or right into bed ourselves and essentially just turn off. 

And if you try to turn us back on, we might malfunction. 

Fair warning.

I had finally put the kids down the other night and right as I sat down on the couch to rest for a little bit, I noticed a little piece of leftover popcorn from earlier that day wedged between the couch cushions. If you are a mom, you probably know what is about to happen. If you aren’t a mom, just wait to be horrified. 

I can’t just sit there and relax while an old piece of popcorn is staring at me. So, I had two realistic options:

  1. Pick up the popcorn and put it in the trash.
  2. Eat it. 

Since I had already picked up and put away a thousand other things that day, and since I couldn’t imagine standing up again and walking to the kitchen, I chose option number two, but not before I heard a little voice in my head whisper, “Don’t do it.” 

And now it was in my mouth.

I should have listened to the voice because what I couldn’t see in the dimly-lit room was a very long hair wrapped around said popcorn. 

After you finish gagging on that mental image, I want you to try to remember the last time you heard the same voice. Or maybe it felt like a little nudge. 

Maybe it wasn’t about something so seemingly inconsequential, or maybe it was. 

The last time I heard it (before my popcorn incident) I was about to pick up my phone for a quick scroll through my Instagram feed. 

Ever so slightly I felt the prick of my conscience. “Don’t do it.”

But in my mind, I reasoned, “what’s the harm in scrolling through Instagram for a minute?”

So I did. And nothing big happened.

I went on the rest of my day, picking up my phone every so often like I normally do, just to check, just to see if anything new popped up…

After I put the popcorn in my mouth, I immediately knew something was wrong. I jumped up from the couch and ran to the kitchen to spit it out of my mouth. And I thought about how I should have listened to that little voice. 

I chose the easy thing, instead of the right thing. 

And I find myself choosing the easy thing more often when I’m tired, or stressed, or worn out. But this little episode reminded me why it’s so important to listen to that voice, even when I’m tired. 

Some things, like a hair in my mouth, are obvious. I ended up putting the stale piece of popcorn right where I should have put it when I found it: directly in the trash. But I had to suffer the consequences of my actions before I put it there. 

Other things are not so obvious. Like my phone, for example. I don’t know what could be metaphorically wrapped around the ten minutes I spend here or there on Instagram or Facebook. Maybe I don’t notice anything major right away. 

But what I have noticed is a lack of peace. I have noticed less joy. I have noticed that something just isn’t right. And I believe it’s because I haven’t been listening to that little voice.

Now the next time I hear, “Don’t do it” I want to remember what it felt like to have that popcorn in my mouth, and I pray it convinces me to obey. 

I pray it convinces you too.