Interrupted Nights & Found Identities

This post is a continuation of our observance of the first week of Lent. We hope you join us in our daily reflection each day this week.

I spent most of the night with my kid in a recliner. So copious amounts of coffee are being consumed this morning as I attempt to reflect.

I’ve been a dad long enough to know that these nights come around every so often. Whether the catalyst is a bad dream or an ear infection or (Lord, help me) washing vomit off of sheets and child, these nights are not unexpected. But the knowledge that they are inevitable does not make them welcome, either.

This experience is not fun — the sudden, cloudy arousal from slumber, the slow dragging of feet down the hall to the room of a crying child, the half-blind turn into the room unaware of what awaits you. And often the only prescription available until morning is a little Tylenol and a lap to sit on. This is the life of a parent.

But it was in that instant last night, as I sat gently stroking my boy’s hair in our recliner at 2 in the morning, that it washed over me like a soothing rain: This is exactly who I am and what I am meant to do. I’m not sure I’m more of a father than in those moments in the uneasy quiet of the night, comforting a hurting child.

And even though I went to the recliner reluctantly, I found my identity and purpose there.

This is how I approach Lent every year. I’d love to be really pious and tell you that I eagerly anticipate this season of fasting and self-denial, but that’d be a huge lie. I’m jealous of those that do, much like I envy people who love getting up at 5am to go for a run. I long to be like them, but it’s just not me.

No, my advance toward Lent is one that is filled with trepidation. I don’t typically enjoy fasting. I honestly don’t want to give of myself very much. I desire the celebration of Advent or Easter more than the devotion of Lent. I enjoy being filled much more than being poured out.

My feet drag toward Lent as much as they drag down the hall to the room of that crying child.

But despite my apprehension and doubt, it is in Lent where I most clearly find my identity in Jesus. Because it is the denial of myself that I really begin to see that Christ can actually live in me. This is the essence of who I am.

When I allow myself to be poured out for others, I am more myself than at any other time. Even when I don’t look forward to it. Even when I drag my feet.

So even though I enter Lent reluctantly, I enter into this season with faith that through these acts of self-denial I will understand more clearly who I am and the purpose I aspire to.

I thank God for moments of clarity, even when they are unexpected or uninvited. I pray he continues to reveal himself to me throughout the season. And may you, too, find your identity more clearly during these days.

Even if you drag your feet there.

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