Monday, April 5, was a bad day for me. On January 21, my wife, Natalee, and I were blessed with the arrival of a beautiful little girl we named Olivia. The first woman who really discipled Natalee in college was named Olivia. We lost her to cancer a few years ago, and so we were eager to honor her memory by giving her name to our daughter. For the last 10 weeks, my wife has been staying at home while on maternity leave and quite frankly has been doing a phenomenal job caring for Olivia and our home.
On that Monday, though, Natalee headed back to work, and I took on Mr. Mom duties a couple of days a week until the end of the school year when she will return home, Lord willing, to full-time mommy duties for good. I was eager to watch our daughter, to play with her, read to her, laugh with her, et al.
What I experienced, however, was very different. I woke Olivia up around 10 a.m. to give her a bottle, which she had taken perfectly in the past, but she outright refused. Refused might not be a strong enough a word. She screamed, tears in her eyes, body writhing, at even the slightest encouragement from me to take her bottle. Up to this point, considering the circumstances, everything was going to be fine. Babies don’t starve from missing a feeding or two and daddies don’t die from a baby’s cry. What was truly horrifying, though, was the way I reacted toward my daughter and the ugliness that was revealed in my heart from these circumstances.
The Bible talks about two ways of living. One is in the flesh; the other by the Spirit. One results in life and peace; the other in death. Yesterday, I chose death as I yelled at my daughter with ferocity, anger and bitterness. All I remember saying is, “I don’t know what to do,” but my heart was so frustrated in that moment that there was no love for her, no nurturing and no tenderness and no peace. I wanted my circumstances to be perfect so that I could be peaceful, all the while missing out on an opportunity to exercise love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, or what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit.
The funny thing is, I had been asking the Lord to grow my patience and wondering how He was going to do it. Instead of a pill, He gave me surgery, and it was painful, so painful. How could such a precious gift entrusted to my wife and me be the focal point of such ugliness? I don’t even want to think about how disgusting I was and how dirty my heart is and how badly I need Jesus to clean it. I’ve been listening to a song by Jon Foreman today, and the lyric that has brought me great hope is: “There are two things you’ve told me, that You are strong and You love me.”
How could a perfect and holy God love someone who spent the better part of an entire day angry with a 10-week-old baby and hating himself? Only by the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross that has imputed His righteousness to me. My righteousness is in heaven and I thank God for it.