I really wish I was better. I wish I had more patience, more sympathy, more understanding. But unfortunately, I’m not. Here’s what happened…
Caedmon, Jackson, Andrew and I were enjoying a nice breakfast with Captain Crunch. I succumbed to my greatest grocery store weakness – the cereal aisle – and came home with the BOGO deal of Crunch Berries and Peanut Butter Crunch. Solid! Anyhow, Jack and Andrew were asking me about Jurassic Park and I was about to dig into my second bowl of peanut buttery sweetness when Caedmon told me he had to go potty.
I was annoyed.
I found his need inconvenient.
My sweet-natured, life-loving, cheerful child placed his right hand on his head (his sign for potty) and his self-absorbed, father rolled his eyes. In that moment I was more disappointed that my cereal would get soggy than I cared about my child. As if he likes having to depend on me or Jeni to take him to the bathroom. Like he waits for the most inconvenient time possible to ask to go. I’m such a jerk.
I asked if he could wait. He said no. I was more annoyed. I should be required to return my “SuperDad” T-shirt.
As I reflected on the moment, I recalled the book I just finished, Sacred Parenting. (It’s jumped to my number one, not even a close second, book about parenting, by the way. I could not recommend it more. Seriously, go order a copy.)
The act of raising children confronts our narcissistic selfishness and invites us to sacrifice our own welfare on behalf of another human being.
I was reluctant to sacrifice crunchy cereal.
Sacrifice and the corresponding virtue of humility aren’t built on giant gestures as much as they are forged with consistent, thoughtful actions of an everyday nature…
Like taking your son to the bathroom?
I hate that it still happens, but sometimes I need to look over Caedmon’s freckled cheeks, into his innocent green eyes with joy wrinkles at their corners, and be reminded of my selfishness. I can put on the costume of kindness most days, but these moments remind me of the monster lurking within me.
The monster reminds me of my Savior.
He had to die because that monster lives.
…if we live coddled Christian lives, never sacrificing ourselves, the cross becomes a sentimental fairy tale – a good story to tell once a year, but something that becomes so familiar we can’t wait to move on to talk about the resurrection. But if we have suffered as Paul suffered, if we have sacrificed for someone as Paul sacrificed for those under his care, we look at the cross in awe because we realize that all our suffering, multiplied by a hundred, still can’t compare with what Christ endured on our behalf. As a result we are in absolute awe of what God has done for us. The passion of the cross metamorphoses from an abstract concept to an astonishing reality.
Parents have to sacrifice. Rarely is it the “giant gestures,” but the 24/7 mundane tasks of child care. And there are plenty of those times when I grumble, even if I do so silently. But you know what? Jesus still loves me.
This late night lament might have been a bit melodramatic for some, but I sure felt like the Grinch this morning. I wonder if you ever feel the same way? I wonder if you’ve ever been presented with an opportunity to serve God by serving your child and found yourself annoyed. If that’s you, please know you aren’t alone. There’s at least one other parent out there struggling with the same things. But also remember God loves you, and as your child hugs you unconditionally and deeply receive it as a tender mark of forgiveness and restoration from your Heavenly father.
None of us can leave a perfect example, but we can provide a genuine example, an authentic picture of what it means to walk hand in hand with God.