Justin: Recently, I really lost my patience with Gus. I mean really lost it. I lost my patience and my temper!
It happened at about 4:00 am in the morning. Gus awoke and began to cry. Now, one should first note, that this is actually pretty unusual for Gus. He is a great sleeper and really embodies the phrase “sleeping like a baby”, but lately he has been waking up more.
Also, he seemed to have a bit of a hard transition back to day care after the Thanksgiving break (he was home with me for a week). Upon going back he seemed a bit needier.
What really got to me was that he also for the first time in his life was beginning to whine. In the past, he only cried if he had some physical need to be met. He was hungry or his diaper was wet. But this night you could tell that he was crying not because of any physical need. He was just whining.
Sara had gotten up with him earlier in the night so she asked me to get up with him. Generally, I work hard to do my fair share, but for some reason this night I was just not in the mood. Begrudgingly I got up.
As I sat with Gus nothing seemed to please him. I tried changing the diaper, I tried feeding him, I tried holding him, I tried laying him down, and I tried picking him up again.
The biggest problem was that with each failure I was growing more and more upset. Rather than calming him, I was beginning to raise my voice with him. It got to the point where Sara actually came and got him from me.
As I went to back to bed I kept thinking, “He is so selfish!”
As I have been reflecting on this experience it has made me realize a couple of things. First, it made me realize that I am not a perfect father. I love being a dad, but I must admit it has been pretty easy so far. I have a lot of growing to do as I am sure there will be more sleepless nights and for reasons more serious than Gus simply wanting attention.
It also made me reflect on my own relationship with God the Father in heaven. How often am I just like Gus? How often do we come to God full of frivolous desires despite the fact that he has met all our needs and then walk away inconsolable when he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him to answer them?
Yet how much more patient he is with me than I am with Gus! He loves me and sent his only Son for me an ungrateful sinner. This is the mystery of Christmas!
Since that night I have tried to prepare for Christmas by spending my 4:00 am time with Gus meditating on how Gus can reflect the infant Christ to me. For instance, last night as I sat rocking him back to sleep I meditated on how Mary and Joseph must have had this same middle of the night experience. How the baby Jesus must have nestled into the arms of his mother, his little body gradually relaxing as he drifted off to sleep. How Mary must have pulled him close in adoration. How she must have treasured this one on one time as a moment of personal prayer. How Joseph must have held him and contemplated the great personal responsibility of protecting a human life. How he must have walked with Jesus in his arms using the time as a deep personal encounter growing in love of God by loving baby Jesus.
This reflection has made me realize that family life is the place where the Christmas mystery is lived out. Sara and I wish you and your families a most blessed Christmas! May the infant Jesus bless you with his presence!