I live in a two-story house. My wife and I live on the first floor and our kids live on the second. You know the one thing nearly all two-story houses have in common? Stairs. You’re still tracking with me, right? In fact, stairs are essential to the two-story house, as they provide access to the second floor, where your kids live. As a general rule, stairs are pretty non-negotiable for the two-level house, unless of course you’re incredibly lazy and installed an elevator for access to the second floor. Or perhaps you have some sort of physical limitation, and that’s why you installed an elevator, in which case – I apologize for what I said before about you being lazy.
The problem with stairs is that there are so many of them. Each one seems so small and easy to traverse, but when stacked on top of each other, it’s sort-of what I imagine climbing an indoor, carpeted mountain would be like. And climbing tiny indoor mountains is tough, especially with a 9-month-old kid strapped across your chest.
You wouldn’t think kids could pick up so much weight in only 9 months. I have two 9-month-old kids who weigh 20 pounds, each. And all they eat is milk. It’s not like we’re taking them out to nice dinners at the Olive Garden every night like those fancy people with elevators. If they keep this pace up, by the time they are my age they will each weigh 700 pounds. I literally just punched those numbers in on a calculator. And don’t get me wrong, 700 pounds is great if their dream is to have their own show on TLC someday, but as far as general health goes, they may need to slow things down a touch.
As the father of these giant babies, I’m tasked with climbing the stairs each night and putting them to bed. Before I became a father, I had this idea in my head that bedtime was going to be a magical time. I imagined smiles and endearing looks, and butterflies playing just outside the window. As it turns out, it’s more like World War II, with stairs. Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, there have been a few endearing looks.
So between the reality that has become bedtime and the fact that I am forced to traverse an indoor mountain to make it up to where they live, 8:00pm hasn’t exactly been my favorite time of the day over the past few months. That is until the other night, when everything changed.
A few nights ago as I was carrying my daughter up the stairs, something completely unexpected happened. We were about half-way up the mountain at the time, and for some reason my daughter, who has never sat still for more than 5 consecutive seconds, decided to lay her head down on my shoulder. Her entire body weight now rested on my chest. And I know it doesn’t exactly make sense, but she’s never felt lighter than she did at that moment, and I’m not sure I have either. 5 seconds passed, then 10 seconds, then 30, and it became apparent that she was at rest, that on my shoulder was exactly where she wanted to be. As I reached the top of the stairs and made my way into her room, I didn’t feel like laying her down. I’m not sure how long I stood there holding her but I didn’t want that moment to end. It was almost like I could feel how much she trusted me, enough to put her whole weight on my chest.
As I finally laid her in her crib and headed back down the stairs, I had gained a new attitude towards bedtime. Now I look forward to 8:00pm all day, hoping that she’ll lay her head back down on my shoulder. And I also think I gained a new attitude towards surrender.
People talk a lot about God being our father. And I believe this is true. People also talk a lot about surrender, about how we should lay down our lives and surrender our whole selves to Him. And I believe this is true as well, and the best way to live. But to be honest, I’ve always struggled with putting it into action. But that night at bedtime, I think maybe I caught a glimpse that can help me, and maybe you too.
See, God is a father, just like me. He’s obviously a lot better than I am at it, but I can’t help but think He feels the same kinds of feelings that I feel towards my kids – even if it’s on a grander scale. What I mean is, I think all God’s looking for is for us to lay our heads down on his shoulder. I think His one desire is to feel our whole body weight resting on his chest. And when we do, I can’t help but think He feels the same emotions I felt standing in my daughter’s room that night. I can’t help but think He doesn’t want to put us down.
It helps me to think that every day, there’s no pressure for me to be perfect for a father with unrealistic expectations. Because the truth is, I have a father that just wants me to rest on Him, a Father who waits and hopes all day that He’ll feel my surrender, my whole body weight resting on Him. It makes me think that maybe I don’t have to try so hard, or be so restless anymore. Life is better when we’re supported. And we’ll never feel lighter than when we lay our head on his shoulder.