That is the thing that has surprised me most about being a parent (well, that - and everything else!).
Like today, for instance.
The day started out well enough. I was able to find the nearest Kinkos through the Internet. That was cool - and very nearly worth the $3,000 investment in equipment it took to do it, don't you think?
Of course, the nearest Kinkos is an hour away from here. But I needed to get 500 copies of a flyer I designed, and I figured Kinkos would be the best bet.
So this morning I made the drive to Rockford, where I was intimidated into getting 500 copies I don't like. I am sure with just a little tweaking they could have looked really nice... But the girl behind the counter acted like she knew better than I did (she must have, she was wearing a uniform and I wasn't), so I was afraid to bother her to try it - and now it is really bugging me!!!!
When I got back home I had a run in with our five year old.
It was early in the afternoon, and as I looked out the kitchen window I saw Pepe and the boys playing in the backyard. Even though I really had some work I needed to get to, I thought it would be fun to spend a little time playing with the kids. Just as I was stepping out the door to join them Pepe came up to me with a handful of wild violets he had picked for Mom. Except he wanted to tape them together. "No, Pep, you don't tape flowers," I said. "I'll go in and get something to put them in so you can give them to Mommy."
But he was having none of it; as lately he is having none of anything anyone says that is contrary to what he has in mind.
"I don't want a jar, I just want some tape!" he insisted.
I went to get a small vase for him to put his little present in, but when I came back the violets were scattered on the ground and Pepe was marching, stiff-backed, down the sidewalk towards the garage. Well, this Kinkos deal already had me feeling vaguely out of sorts (though I was really trying to not let it bother me - but it was like a raspberry seed stuck in my teeth), so that did it.
"Okay, Pepe, that's it. I have had enough of your attitude (am I a parent or what! At least I refrained from adding, "young man!") - you go to your room right now!"
The whole thing had me steaming way beyond proportion - and that ticked me off too! I had wanted to go out and spend some nice time with the kids, and now I was ticked off at them instead.
By now I just had only a few minutes before I had to take Manuel to baseball practice, so I figured I might as well try and get at least a little work done. But I was still steaming. I could hardly write about the "peace and joy of the Lord" when what I really wanted to do was launch something breakable across the room. And that steamed me all the more!
Now cut to tonight.
I am reading in Ephesians, 4.2;
"I urge you then, live a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you. Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another"
Patient? Gentle? Tolerant? I felt anything but that most of the afternoon. I was wound up, short tempered, and teed off.
Why was that?
I think it is because I lose sight of the fact that God is here. I feel like everything is up to me. And then when things start to feel like they are falling apart - when they don't go the way I think they should - I panic.
"That's it. Pepe is never going to mind. He is out of control. I am a lousy, ineffective father. My life is going to be nothing but misery and frustration..." I see 'the good life' slipping away. And then I act just like a two year old when you take away his toy - I get angry!
(That's another thing that bugs me about this parenting thing. 90 percent of the time, half way through a lecture to the kids I realize that the whole thing applies to me. I launch into some soliloquy about how they shouldn't get angry just because things don't go exactly their way - when I am cheesed off for exactly that reason - they didn't do what I wanted them to! But that's a whole other story...).
Tonight I am thinking that if I really had that deeply rooted sense that God is here, that, basically, things are going to be okay, I wouldn't get nearly so angry when little things go wrong. It wouldn't be the tip of the iceberg of some impending catastrophe. They would just be what they are; the minor little every day incidents of life. If I really sensed that God has things well in hand I could take these little, inevitable bumps in stride. I wouldn't be thrown for a loop like I am so often now.
So the real question is; How do I get to that point?
I mean, lately I have even been having those nagging doubts that maybe there is nothing to this whole God stuff.
(Pause to munch down a Keebler double chocolate chip cookie... is this wise too???).
Maybe there is no God, no all powerful presence in my life, no loving Father watching over me, no protective wings wrapped around me. Maybe we're all just out here on our own.
But that's ridiculous.
How did we get here otherwise? Just popped up out of nothing?
I recently read an article in Time magazine about the search for the 'historical' Jesus - the one where the researchers simply rejected from the start any witness who testified to anything miraculous because it just couldn't be. And it reminded me of the testimony of Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Basically he was answering the question, "Oh, yeah? Says who?!"
He said he didn't get his teaching from other men - he got it from Jesus himself. Of course, the thing was, Jesus was dead by then. Or at least he had died. Anyone who read his letter would have known that. They would have known, or could have found out from others, that Jesus had been crucified. That was an historical fact.
Now here comes Paul saying he has seen him. Not only that, but Jesus himself has given him the message he is preaching.
Well. There are at least two possible reactions to that. Paul is nuts. Or he is telling the truth.
Paul understood that too. And so, as evidence to the second conclusion, (and not the first!) he reminds his readers of the Paul they had known. That was the Paul who was stoning Christians. Now here he is, making them. What could account for such a radical turn around, if not the truth of his story?
He wasn't making this stuff up. Paul was a real person, a person known by others, who went from being the persecutor to the one being persecuted. Now he was telling his readers in Galatia that he had seen Jesus. And his own persecution became the authentification of his story.
Who would suffer, and eventually die, for what they knew to be a lie?
I have often wondered why God allowed the early church to be persecuted the way it was. I mean, wasn't he on their side? Where was he? Why didn't he do something? Why did he let those early Christians suffer such horrible deaths?
Now I am seeing it was exactly for this reason - so that we who followed could know what they had seen and heard was true.
What a price those early believers paid so that I could believe.
Maybe that is what I need to remember whenever I find myself having doubts.