I think it’s childish, unkind, and pathetic for a man to raise his voice at his wife, but last week, in a moment of weakness, I let her (and myself) down. And in that ugly moment, God was there.
My wife was very sick, so I had spent most of the day taking care of our daughters, ages one and two. I had gotten them dressed, made them breakfast and lunch, played with them, put them down for naps, played with them some more, and generally felt upbeat about it the whole time, despite the messy house.
But at 4:00, things started coming apart. I tried to make chicken noodle soup, which may sound easy to most people, but I get stressed out by all the chopping, boiling, and measuring – especially when there are two toddlers running around.
My daughters weren’t misbehaving or anything, they were just there, ransacking the kitchen while I was cooking. There were about 26 tea bags strewn across the kitchen floor, four child-size chairs in front of the sink, toys on the floor, and two little moving targets, who were aimlessly dragging a mop and broom around with them.
The longer it went on, the more I started feeling like an agitated daycare worker.
Even though my wife was in no shape to get out of bed, she was doing what she could to help – but it wasn’t much. And with every need our girls had, I irrationally began to resent the fact that she wasn’t doing more to help.
Even after we finally sat down for dinner, I found myself being interrupted by one need after another. And just when I thought I was actually going to get to eat, my one-year-old pooped herself, so I lifted her from her high chair and went to change her.
After I returned to eat, I opened a drawer, got something out, and forgot to close it. I sat down just in time to see my one-year-old sprint into the room, slam her head into the open drawer, and hit the floor. My wife looked at me and gasped.
“Get her!” I snapped angrily at her as my daughter began screaming. My wife looked stunned, then hurt, then angry at me for verbally shoving her. I instantly felt a wave of guilt.
“That wasn’t very nice, daddy,” said my two-year-old, as my wife picked up my screaming one-year-old. More guilt.
“No, it wasn’t very nice,” I replied. “Honey,” I said to my wife, “I am really sorry. I was out of line. Seriously, I’m sorry.”
My wife left the room to tend to my daughter’s wounds and left me sitting across the table from my two-year-old. I felt so ashamed of myself by that point, I couldn’t even look up at my daughter. So I just sat there, feeling like a total loser and quietly forcing chicken noodle soup into my mouth.
And then my daughter interrupted.
I looked up.
“God is love,” she said.
“That’s right,” I replied, looking up.
“He died on the cross for you.”
“Yes, He did,” I said, still feeling guilty but nonetheless amazed at what she was saying with her limited vocabulary.
And then, smiling, she said, “He forgives you.”
I smiled back, looking her in the eyes.
“Thank you,” I replied, deeply touched, believing her. “Thank you so much.”
There was nothing more to say.