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.

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7 Comments on “Shoulder”

  1. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    So cool. Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. May 30, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    This is an amazing coincidence!

    Last night, as I was nerding it up playing some Minecraft (admittedly lame, I know) my beautiful girlfriend was laying on the couch after trying to get my son Parker to sleep. Parker is 8-months old and takes 2-3 naps a day and gets fed at 630 and bathed at 7, in the hopes he would be asleep by 7:30-8. Last night he was determined to be on his own schedule. He refused to let go of consciousness, fighting it every chance he got. Normally, my girlfriend gives him about 5-minutes to cry it out and calm himself down before she goes in and tries to rock him. This particular night he was on his third 5-minute ‘alone-time’. I decided as a good gesture to give it another try. Up to this point he has only fallen asleep for me but a handful of times. ( I just never seem to have the right touch to get him out,)

    I look up and say “I’ll give it a shot, babe.” She looks lovingly at me and replies, “Ok, go ahead.”

    Now I can tell by her voice and the expression in her face she means “GOOD LUCK!”, and I know I am probably going to lose this upcoming battle with a 19lb boy. Yet I press on. I walk into the room and he is still babbling and sobbing, standing up in his crib. He looks at me with his big ol’ alligator tears and I can see a twinge of a smile crack on his face. I can’t tell whether he is smiling because he is happy to see me or he is smiling because he is about to put me through the ringer yet again.

    So, he raises his arms and I pick him up and hold him in the cradle position, and rock him back and forth. Just as he is starting to fade out his busts up laughing, a gut-busting baby guffaw. Undoubtedly, I start laughing as well(who can resist a baby laugh?), even though I know I should stay stoic and not feed him attention and wake him up more; I keep laughing. We laugh for a few minutes and I look at him and say “Stop laughing and go to sleep PJ!” which only makes him laugh harder. I decide that my best course of action would be to get a bottle and feed him a bit.

    As I walk towards the kitchen through the living room I can feel the eyes of my girlfriend on me. I get the bottle ready and go back in there determined to put this little dictator down for the count. I feed him as he lets go of inhibitions and fills his diaper, I call to Heather and have her bring me the diaper caddy in and I change him as she lays on the bed next to him.

    He is seemingly ready to go down, so she leaves the room and I pick him up in the cradle position again, rocking back and forth and singing the only song I can muster is to recant the color of the tibetan prayer flags we have hanging. “Blue, White, Red, Green, Yellow…” and making a little diddy up. He was not having it. So I sat down and tried to burp him thinking maybe he had to burp or something. Then it happened.

    He leans over and hugs me around my neck and passes out. His little hands opening and closing. Im not gonna lie, it was probably the highlight of Fatherhood for me aside from watching him being born. Having him fall asleep on my shoulder like that. Really made me realize that this little guy is my son. Looking forward to many more magical moments like this.

  3. May 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Awesome. It’s the best thing ever! Thanks for sharing.


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