This past Saturday morning I had a terrible attitude. We had two sick kids all day Friday whom then decided to stay awake all night Friday night. Since chubs (our infant) is nursing, that meant I spent the night on a hard floor in bruiser’s (our toddler’s) room.
Additionally, we had guests in town (which we loved seeing), but knew their early morning departure was going to come way too soon. 5am normally isn’t a big deal, but I knew it would be brutal without more than about 30min-1 hr of sleep the night before. After getting up and getting our guests on the road, I heard screams. I thought: Is the bruiser waking up again? Nope. This time it was chubs–our infant that my wife Lindsey had been up with most of the night.
I knew the right thing to do, but didn’t want to do it. Reluctantly, I went into our bedroom where chubs just finished nursing and told my wife I would take care of him so she could go back to sleep. Grumbling, I went to the living room and tried everything to get him to sleep…but he wasn’t about to sleep.
He was ready to PARTY! “Why won’t this little (sweet) monster sleep?” I asked myself. I needed 30 min or 1 hour of sleep to get ready for the other two who would soon wake up. Why oh why can’t I sleep for at least a few minutes?! Needless to say, that extra bit of sleep wasn’t going to happen.
At that moment, I just started taking pictures of the little guy. He started smiling and making faces at me. He started giggling. He climbed all over me. Then, for about 30 seconds to a minute he laid on my chest, snuggled with his special blanket, and patted my back with his tiny hands.
Maybe he sensed I needed it (and I did…).
Immediately I realized what was happening. Something powerful. Something memorable. Something impacting. I allowed my horrid attitude to get in the way of a moment I had always dreamed of…holding and playing with my little baby boy. (Just to be clear, I absolutely adore my daughter more than anything, but there is also something special about being a father to two little boys.)
It was as if God decided to use the soft and tiny hand of this adorable baby boy to remind me: it’s going to be okay. God reached into my heart by using my infant son to pat my back.
God met me in a moment of weakness and gave me a reality check through what (ironically) had made me weak in the first place.
Perhaps you can relate. The ways God responds to our selfishness are shocking at first. God often uses the things that scare us, wear us down, or frustrate us to teach us more about himself and about ourselves. Usually we end up seeing His goodness as great and our struggles as shameful.
Needless to say, I had one of the best mornings in my life as chubs and I wrestled on the floor, shared multiple (very brief) hugs where he relaxed on my chest, and heard innumerable giggles and guttural laughs as I tickled him endlessly. What I initially perceived as brutal, God had transformed into the memory of a lifetime.
About an hour or so later, my daughter (the princess) woke up and boy was she ready to have fun! She helped me clean up an automatic-timer-gone-wrong on the coffee pot disaster on the kitchen floor and was excited to go on an adventure with daddy. As we were about to start breakfast, my toddler (the bruiser) woke up and let it be known that he wanted out of his crib that instant.
So I found myself in the kitchen, on a bar stool, eating breakfast with chubs, the bruiser, and the princess all while my wife got some much deserved rest. All the kids were happy and calm. The princess and the bruiser were annihilating their cereal, while I couldn’t restock the fruit on the high chair tray fast enough for chubs. Chubs decided his appetite needs to be stronger than everyone else in the household combined. (He gets it honest…)
A little while later, we all got dressed for the day and tip-toed out of the house for an adventure with daddy. The kids sang “Twinkle Twinkle“, “Oh No Your Never Let Go“, “Hakuna Matata“, and “Bless the Lord Oh My Soul” all the way to Lowe’s Hardware store, where we were in for a special treat: Build and Grow Day (i.e. Workshop Day). Lowe’s has a free workshop day for parents of small kids periodically on Saturday mornings. I was a little skeptical as we forgot to register in advance and the line was at least 40-50 deep (and we were there 20 minutes early!) Not good — especially with little kids in tow.
We ended up getting to participate and put together a Captain America motorcycle, got a few other toys they gave us for free, and then went and looked at all the light fixtures, learned about how table saws work, held a cordless drill, looked at tractors, and even tried to guess which lawnmower was most like their Papaw’s (i.e. their granddad).
After a few other stops for little activities, it was almost 12pm and the kiddos were getting restless. I was unquestionably tired. And right then, Lindsey texted us to tell us she was awake. The kids said, “Let’s go. Let’s go…Let’s go see mommy.” So we got everyone in the car and surprised Lindsey by bringing lunch home. Everyone was happy to see her and I was definitely at the point of needing some relief from the busyness of herding kids.
In the end, it wasn’t the terrible day I made it out to be. It was one of the best mornings I could have ever asked for getting to connect one-on-one with each of my kids. We connected in unique ways that I would have missed out on had I continued making everything about me like I did earlier that morning (see the grumbling part above).
The next time you find yourself about to complain and act annoyed because life doesn’t go according to plan or according to your preferences, you may want to check out these points of reflection.
5 Ways God Responds to Our Selfishness
1) It might be God’s way of getting your attention.
Your perspective is not always the only one.
Your perspective is not always the right one.
My perspective isn’t always the only or right one either.
My perspective often needs an adjustment.
God likes to push us to see things from a new perspective. He likes to help us remove our selfish and mundane blinders, in order for us to see things from His perspective.
2) It might be a big opportunity for you to grow.
Think back on your life. When did you grow the most? When were the times that God changed your perspective? Most of us tend to grow during times of difficulty, pain, sorrow, change, etc.
3) It might be a chance to slow down and shift your thinking.
Do you need to slow down your pace? Frantic hurrying will never help you create a sustainable rhythm. Consider stopping to “smell the roses” a little bit.
I’m not advocating that you don’t work hard and become a lazy sluggard. Hard work should always be part of the equation; however, we tend to accept overwork as normative if we don’t have regular reminders to keep us in check.
4) It might be an opportunity to bless someone else.
My life isn’t all about me. Your life isn’t all about you. All of our lives are to honor and point others to Him.
When your energy levels are high, serving others comes much more easily. When you are tired and frustrated, you probably don’t naturally think to serve others. But, for God, it may be a moment that He can use to shape and mold you and others into the image of His Son.
5) It might be a chance to ask for help.
Most people struggle to ask for help. They go through life trying to make it on their own rather than leaning on others and admitting their brokenness.
I’m broken. You are broken. We all struggle with belief in the midst of our brokenness. God, through the Holy Spirit, sustains our belief — even in our brokenness and imperfect belief. It is one of the most consistent ways God responds to our selfishness.
He also provides others in our lives. We need Him, but we also need each other. Don’t believe the lie that you can always handle things on your own. Don’t resist help from others. Don’t avoid asking for help because of your shame or pride. Acknowledge weakness. Consider who can help. Avoid robbing others of a chance to serve. They might be waiting on you to ask.
How do you normally respond when life is tough? How do you navigate the waters of frustration that knock us all down at times?
I can promise you that I don’t always respond well. Admitting that is hard, but it shouldn’t be. The fact that it is hard to admit shows that I still struggle with the lie that I need to “have it all together.”
I’m broken. You are broken.
But it is by His strength that we find healing and hope.
It is because of Him that we experience some of the best memories of our lives.