When we compare what we have with what others have, we detach ourselves from having a heart of gratitude. (Gray, Derwin, “God, Do You Hear Me?” pg 193)
Happy Friday Family! I hope you have had a blessed week. I had a truly, miraculous day yesterday. I try not to share too many personal stories on here, because this blog is really for you and your connection to God and your relationship with Jesus. But yesterday was a day that I could feel the tangible touch of the Holy Spirit and it played out in a way that could have only been designed by the Creator of Life. Before I get to that story (which I will share tomorrow), I was trying to find a great and glorious nugget of truth to share from Dr. Derwin Gray’s next chapter in “God, Do You Hear Me?” I found the wisdom-rich sentence above about making comparisons, and I was humbled to remind myself of the moment I let the sin of comparison (thou shall not covet thy neighbor) nearly ruin a special event.
Yesterday morning, my son’s pre-school (a daycare-8th grade Christian Academy) hosted “Donuts With Dads.” In typical Southern Baptist tradition, the Chaplain that spoke gave a poorly-timed sermon chastising every Dad in the room about how we can be better Fathers. I appreciated where the Chaplain was coming from, but in this setting, with a room full of Dad’s who were trying to be present with their children, I felt like it was not a well-delivered speech. But the man tried, so I will give him that.
As I was listening to the lecture, I found myself looking around the room. First, to see if I recognized anyone. Next, I found myself wondering what each Dad did. We live in a military community so there were a dozen Soldiers in uniform. Those Dad’s rank gave away a good part of what they did for a living. But I found myself comparing who I was to them. Which has always been a sin I struggle with. When we moved into our childrens’ classrooms I found myself stuck between two Soldiers. One was the father of a little girl that sits across from my son, the other Soldier-father was at the table directly behind where my son sits. For the Soldier I was at the table with, a quick scan of his rank and patches hinted that most likely he was an aviator for the Army. And instantly I began to compare myself with him. All the would-have, should-have’s came flooding in. I struggled to find a good conversation piece with this young Chief because I suddenly belittled myself to the point that I did not think this man would want to talk to a regular citizen like me. Perhaps I should have just thanked him for his service to break the ice, or ask him what type of rotary wing he was a pilot for. Anything would have been better than how I let the sin of comparison ruin any conversation that could have had. Who knows, had I just been more comfortable in who I am, I might have made a new friend that morning. But, instead, I did what Dr. Gray wrote about in Chapter 12, “Worship>Worry,” I let comparison, ego, pride, self-pity, low self-esteem, nearly ruin a special event for the only person I was there to impress anyway, and that was my son.
While I failed to make any new connections with adults, I did share a special moment with my son and his classmates. After donuts and coloring a cute donut-inspired coloring sheet, my son had asked me to read a book with him. We sat over by the book corner, with three other classmates, and he and I read the book he picked out together. As I read to him, more classmates began to gather around me and I got a second request for another book to read. This was a “Moana” kids book, which I love that Disney classic, so it was a fun book to read. That reading seemed to be a favorite from the kids and I suddenly had the whole class gathered around me as all the other parents had to leave for whatever career God had gifted them with. I had another request for a third book to read and this was a Star Wars LEGO book, so you can assume that was fun. I had the kids make their best “Darth Vader” breathing voice whenever I read his name. My son’s classmates got a kick out of that. My son just looked at me in either wonder or embarrassment, it was hard to know which. So I read that book and found myself the last Father left in the room, not that I wanted or needed that, but it just happened. It happened because I surrendered to the moment, surrendered to putting everything else on pause to just invest an extra ten minutes with a classroom of beautiful, sweet souls.
After three books, I told the class I had to go, I was 3.5 hours late for work as it was (it had been approved in advance). I suddenly found myself getting hugs from several of the kids in my son’s class and I made sure to give my son an extra special hug and kiss goodbye. One little girl asked me why I was in a Police Uniform and I told her it was my “costume for the day.”
God used my son to give me a moment of redemption. If he had not asked me to read a book, I would have left “Donuts for Dad” disappointed with myself for all the missed opportunities I sometimes allow my soul to be consumed with in regards to my career choices over the years. While I am finally in a career I love to go to every day, I always think back to the moments in my young adult days when I had opportunities to follow dreams and I was too afraid to jump. None of that should have mattered in the moment of that morning, but it did, and it nearly consumed me. But my son, with his sweet smile and earnest request helped restore my soul.
And that was just the beginning of this beautiful day. The best story, the God-flex miracle, was still yet to be experienced. I will share that story with y’all tomorrow.
Chapter 12 of “God, Do You Hear Me?” is all about using Worship to diminish, or destroy, worry and stress. Well, for me, music has become a huge part of how I worship. SEU (Southeastern University) Worship just released a new album of praise and I highly recommend you click here to listen to all the tracks. But for today, here is one of my favorites from the set.