Friday, July 2, 2010

Midnight Perspectives on Fatherhood

About a month ago, my husband and I hosted some young men in our home for about a week. Until they arrived on our doorstep we had never met nor spoken to these men. Through a convoluted set of "he knows her, she knows him, etc." these two guys drove all the way from Chicago to attend a week long conference at Duke and our bonus room and guest room played happy host to their tired bodies.

The first night they arrived, at about 10:00, we spent a few minutes just getting to know them and I made the colossal mistake of uttering the following words. "Our son never wakes up at night, so you should be able to get a great night's sleep before your crazy week starts!" You would think that after 3 1/2 years of parenting I would not tempt the sleep-radar in my son's head by uttering such a silly sentence. Of course, barely two hours after that, we awoke to a screaming child, feverish and complaining of pain in his ears. Great. Much comfort (and lots of shushing "because the guys are asleep in the next room") and a good dose of motrin later, he was back to sleep. A few hours later, same scenario all over again.

Of course, I woke up the next morning feeling sheepish and apologetic but our guests had already headed out for the day so my apologies had to wait. I spent the whole day feeling terrible that they had gotten a poor night's sleep on our watch and wondering how they were holding up at their marathon conference.

So, I was greatly humbled and flat-out floored by the following conversation that happened just minutes after their arrival home at the end of that long day.

Me:"Hey guys, I'm really sorry Josh was such a wreck last night. What a way to start your week."
Guy #1: "Actually, I didn't hear too much and, really, it's totally fine. Is he ok?"
Me: "Ear infection. And he's on drugs now so you should be fine tonight to sleep!"
Guy #2: "Actually, I was going to tell you it was really helpful to me. I was praying before bed and was pretty upset with God and then just a few hours later I heard your son upset and you patiently comforting him and I was like, wow, God, thanks for that beautiful picture of how you care for me! It really just blew me away!"
Me: "Huh?"

Seriously, I have never heard someone, particularly not someone who was sleep deprived and is not a parent, describe a sleepless and chaotic moment in the middle of the night with a child as a glimpse into the loving and fatherly character of God. Talk about a humbling moment. All day I had worried and felt guilty about putting those guys through a long day on little rest and the whole day one of them was thanking God for my son's sleeplessness and for how it had reminded him in a moment of frustration just how deeply his heavenly father cares for him.

I'm trying to learn from that guy. To see each parental moment, whether frustrating or joyful, as a chance to understand better the way that this earthly parent-child relationship can reflect and point to a far more effective, patient and loving Parent and how much I am loved and cared for by Him.

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