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Growing Pains

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m generally loving life. I really like my classes, my work, and my wife and my baby. But I could easily paint a little too rosy a picture. While Wake Forest, North Carolina beats Norman, Oklahoma for scenery 7 out of 7 days in a week, and while I’m incredibly glad to be here, life is still life.

One of the things I’ve been learning recently is that, while I love Ellie, I don’t particularly love taking care of babies. Jaimie does. She spent 8 months or so working as a nanny just because she enjoys working with babies. (There are plenty of other things she’s qualified to do; she wanted to do that.) And at the end of a long day, when Ellie loses it being incredibly fussy—as she has done repeatedly the last few days—even Jaimie doesn’t love taking care of her anymore. Unsurprisingly, neither do I.

This is not, to be very clear, a complaint. Rather, it’s an observation on my own sinfulness. God has blessed us with a daughter, a sweet little girl who loves us lots and is incredibly well behaved almost all of the time. Yet I so easily grow frustrated with her.

Dinner with Ellie tonight

The face of innocence

To be sure, she is growing increasingly challenging. She’s just hit the age where she can start throwing little fits that are clearly fits. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of disciplinary measures you can take with fits from a not-quite 9-month-old. (Other misbehaviors you can more actively correct, but fits can really only get a stern response and an injunction to “be sweet,” combined with responding to the latter and not to the fit.) But the real issue, for me at least, is simply that I’m impatient. I want to get back to whatever it is that I’m doing.

So when, last night and tonight, I am taking care of her at home alone—yesterday because Jaimie was out writing, tonight because she’s a “Memory Keeper” for a signing for A Memory of Light—I have to confront my own sinful tendencies head-on. It’s not exactly pretty.

Tonight was easier than last night. But looking at my own heart was harder, because the truth is: my heart is hard. Even toward my own daughter.

And the same could—should—be said of my attitude toward Jaimie. Transitions are rough for her, and the last two months have seen an enormous number of transitions in our lives. Like many people (though not like me), Jaimie doesn’t love change. Moreover, this change entailed a good deal more loss for her than for me: she left behind her dearest girlfriends. For me, I left behind friends, but came to join my very best friends in the whole world, and added seminary to the mix: something I’ve been anticipating for quite some time. It’s been an easy transition for me. Not so for her—and I have not been as gracious and patient as I might hope. Certainly I have not done the job I ought to have of loving her like Christ loves the church.

That standard is always challenging. Impossibly challenging. Christ died for the church; he gave himself up for her (for us), washing her clean in his own willingness to bear all her (all our) grievous faults as though they were his own, to endure her ( endure our) frequent failings and fallings away. And I find myself annoyed and impatient because Jaimie is a bit emotional? It seems I need to review the parable of the unforgiving servant yet again. How much have I been forgiven? With how much of my folly has Christ born, day after day after day? I cannot measure it. With the grace given me I ought to pour forth grace myself.

God be merciful on me a sinner—and thanks be to God: he is merciful on us weary sinners. So we come around again, as we ever should, to the cross of Christ and to his triumphant, empty tomb. Sin—its penalty and its power—are undone. We come with repentant hearts to worship our Savior King.


  • Ame thought to say:

    it is so humbling to get to the place where accept the reality that we don’t necessarily *like* those we love the most. life is hard. we will not always like each other. we need to teach that to our kids. then we need to teach them to *choose* to love and accept and forgive as God loves and accepts and forgives us.

    i know a childless couple my age who own and run a goat farm and make homemade goat cheese to sell. it’s a small operation. every day the goats need to be milked several times a day. everyday they need to be fed, nurtured, nursed, cared for. the cheese needs to be made. then they relentlessly go every weekend to farmer’s markets to sell their product. as i watch them work i am in awe at their relentless work. i have found myself wondering if i could do the same. then i realize … i do. i do the same as the mother of my girls and all they go through. as the wife of my husband.

    life is most often lived in the monotonous and the hard … in the struggle of what/who we *like* pulling against what/who we *love* pulling against what/who we *desire*. sometimes they’re all the same; sometimes they’re slightly different; sometimes they war within us.

    my girls are teenagers. when i see parents of preschoolers dealing with whiney, bickering siblings, i smile and move on. i offer no wisdom or advice … for i know … the hope of that parent is that their children will outgrow their whiney, bickering, selfishness. the truth is, our nature is to be selfish and whiney and bickering. it becomes a choice of the will to discipline ourselves to choose otherwise. if one has not come to that place, then they have probably not lived in *hard* for extended periods of time; their season will come.

    the bible says that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of a sound mind … or a disciplined mind. i want the sound mind … not always the disciplined mind. i have to choose to remind myself the fear is not from God … and i have to choose to tell myself that God will fill me with His love and power. When i release my fear and allow God to fill me with His love and power, i am then enabled by Him to choose a disciplined mind, a sound mind.

    all that being said … one of the best pieces of parenting advice given to me by a friend who had two before i had one … “sanity is priceless.” ahhh … my girls probably have reccuring dreams of mommy saying … sometimes with more exuberance than others, “Quiet! Stop! No! Sanity is priceless!” :)

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