I don’t like being interrupted during “me time.” Unfortunately, sacrificing “me time” is part of the covenant when I said, “I do.” By the grace of the Holy Spirit, I find myself being happy instead of frustrated. Please witness:
I’m engrossed in a short biography of Larry Page from the Business Insider. I’m sitting in our oversized, super-cushioned rocking chair and the lighting is soft and relaxing. The house is quiet. I thought my wife and daughters were asleep and it was only 8:30pm. I was going to enjoy a lot of “me time” tonight!
Then my wife storms out of our bedroom. She throws down the Ergo Baby carrier like a gauntlet and Hana slides down her leg and onto the floor. My wife isn’t mad at me, but she’s frustrated that Hana isn’t falling asleep. It’s my turn.
Hana runs to me with a squeal of joy. Her big, round eyes hide behind wispy long black hair. Hana’s pink jammies are all bunched up on her chunky baby legs. I chuckle and smile at her, put away the article, and pick her up just as she hugs my leg.
If I was a man without the Holy Spirit, I would not find joy in this interruption. I would have been slightly irritated that my wife was unsuccessful in putting Hana to sleep. I would have resented the need to put both our daughters to sleep for the past few evenings. I suffered a screaming shower session and would just like a little time to unwind.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, those thoughts didn’t even cross my mind. Actually, I had to force myself to think that way just now in order to draw a contrast. I’m a changed man because of continual conversion into Christ. The fruit of my faith can be seen in the joy, patience and charity I experience instead of the anger, impatience and “counting the cost” that the old me would have done.
Hana snuggles the side of her face against my chest as I carry her. When I change her into a fresh diaper, I have to tell her to not laugh or talk because big sister is sleeping. I pick her up and kiss her for the hundredth time that day and then strap her onto my chest with the Ergo Baby. I can see the anticipation of my baby daughter’s eyes as the plastic “click, click” of the buckles lock around my waste and shoulders. After turning off the lights around the house, we walk to the kitchen. I turn on the stove-oven ventilator to create the magical white noise. Hana clonks her head against my chest, like she was hypnotized. I pace back and forth as she starts to relax. Hana stretches out her small hands and absent-mindedly caresses the stubble on my chin. From the broken pale light streaming in across from our neighbor’s porch, I could see that Hana’s eyes were drooping. I kiss her forehead and stroke the bridge of her nose with my thumb. Hana can resist no longer: her hand goes limp against my stubbly chin.
I often wondered why the Gospel writers left so much of Jesus’ childhood and teenage years to the imagination. Folks called this the “hidden life” of Jesus. Being a father, I questioned why God didn’t give more guidance on how to imitate the Holy Family. How did Joseph and Mary deal with a whining toddler? How did they counsel other parents who had rebellious teenagers, even if the teenage Jesus was obedient?
These moments I have with Maya and Hana give me such profound joy. It is a kind of joy that escapes description. It’s fleeting and easy to miss if I worshipped money, fame, power or beauty instead of God. As it is, I’m blessed. Dozens of moments like these happen in the course of a full day with my children. I can’t remember them all, but I trust that Heaven is recording them even if I don’t have the camera on my smartphone ready. I may forget these small moments, but they all add up to this emotion, this absolute certainty of love. What I feel towards my children is merely a shadow of what God feels for me. I cannot touch, see, hear or measure this love I have for my daughters, but I’m experiencing it. So, it’s true. I cannot touch, see, hear or measure the love that God has for me, but with eyes of faith, I see. So, it’s true.
My love is only a shadow of God’s love. This fact compels me to love even more. It is the only natural response to someone who loves you this much. It’s not easy to go from loving just your daughters to loving even the people who persecute you. Yet, if the Holy Spirit can convert me from a man who loves his “me time” to a father who can give it up without even a second thought, then I trust He can convert me as I grow into Christ even more. As I live out the hidden life of Jesus in my own family, grow in my belief of the Eucharist and progress in my prayer life, I am drawn deeper into Christ.