I didn’t start the weekend trying to be a sorry husband and father – it came quite naturally.
My wife was sick in bed with a severe cold, which was no fun for me. It meant that she expected me to take responsibility for the general well-being of her and our two toddlers. Of course, I was totally willing to do this – you know, for like 90 minutes. But then I realized I was trapped in my house and would be serving my family all day long.
I felt like hiring a nurse to come in.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I didn’t complain about it to my wife – at least not verbally. But I didn’t have to say anything. My body language, facial expressions, and tone said it all: I am frustrated. This is my weekend. I wish someone else were doing this. Get well soon – for my sake.
As the day went by, I eventually accepted the fact that I had a job to do, but I did it with joyless, stinky-faced annoyance. But at least I was trying to do something – I mean, I kind of figured I deserved a pat on the back for my efforts. Instead, my sick wife said, “Honey, if you’re going to have such a sorry attitude about helping out, I’ll take care of things myself.”
Rather than humble myself and change my attitude, I rattled off a laundry list of my domestic accomplishments that day and told her that it would help if she showed a little more gratitude. I’m pretty sure she would have drop-kicked me right then if she weren’t so sick, but instead, she just said we needed to stop talking.
By the time I finally put the girls in bed and looked into my disappointed wife’s eyes, it was too late – I had taken a hard day and made it horrible. It couldn’t be undone. All I could do was offer a belated apology, which my wife accepted before falling asleep, exhausted.
The next day, I knew that my apology would be meaningless if I did a repeat performance, so I decided that I would do everything in my power to serve my family joyfully. It went really well for about an hour, but then the girls started fighting over a frizzy-haired Barbie while I was trying to make oatmeal. I felt like going over, pulling the Barbie away, and giving some loud, mean-daddy speech about sharing.
My soul actually quieted down, and I corrected the girls peacefully. But it wasn’t long before another toddler drama snowballed into a mini-crisis, and I found myself gnawing on the inside of my cheek and wishing my wife would do something (after all, she said she was feeling better).
Holy Spirit, I can’t do this without You, I prayed, and the frustration was replaced with peace – for the moment. This was what it was like all day – back and forth. I would get all freaked out and needy, and the Holy Spirit would shoot me with a spiritual tranquilizer dart. And when it was all said and done, I came to this humbling conclusion: when the rubber meets the road, I’m incapable of following Jesus without supernatural intervention.
On my best days, I still realize that.