Bedtime has always been a favorite time at the Sandlin household. A time to enjoy each other’s presence. A time to catch up on the day. A time to impart the stories of our faith and to seek God’s face together. Lest it all sound too spiritual, I’m always happy for it to be over so I can get to some much needed Daddy down time. Lately, bedtime at the Sandlin household has gotten a little longer than I would like it to be. The routine is the same: we brush our teeth, read a story, read a devotional, say a prayer, and jump into bed – but it’s taking two to three times as long. Why? Well, instead of me reading a story to Sophie, Sophie has started reading a story to me. Now, watching and helping someone learning to read is a magnificent, fascinating thing – for about three minutes. Then it starts to make my head hurt.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a patient dad. I encourage. I offer supportive words. I help her with the toughest words. But inside, as my patience dwindles, I want to scream. It doesn’t seem like learning to read should be so difficult. We’ll read one line, sound out every letter, struggle to put those letters together, until it eventually clicks and the jumble of letters becomes a word. And then we’ll read the next line and struggle in the exact same way with a word we just read in the line before! Admittedly, I don’t recall my own path towards reading. I know that I went through an identical process to what Sophie is going through (I’m sure torturing my own parents along the way – thanks mom and dad). It’s just that I don’t remember any of that. Reading has simply become a part of my nature. Something I don’t even think about. And this makes it difficult to sit and wait on the slow process that is required for reading to become a part of Sophie’s nature, as well.
All of this has made me more grateful to the God whose nature it is to love and who waits patiently as he helps love become our nature as well. Circumstance after circumstance God walks with us as we struggle with what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. We wonder how much sacrifice is required or how long we have to keep showing kindness in the face of hostility or how often we need to forgive one who offends. Occasionally, in our struggles, it will click, and we’ll show love like God’s. And then, sometimes just a moment later, we’ll find ourselves retreating to the safety of hate or indifference. At least, in my life that’s the pattern. But I trust that God is patient (because I’m told in his word that love is patient). And I try once more to love others as myself, grateful to be learning in the arms of a loving dad.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another – John 13:35.