I’m a jerk.
Ask anyone who knows me and most of them will have a story of how I’ve been a jerk to them and had to later come back and apologize for it. It’s not something I’m proud of. I work really hard to not be a jerk but inevitably I slip up and do something to remind myself (and everyone else) that I am, in fact, a jerk.
As I’ve grown up and become more self aware, I’ve learned that at the core of my jerk-ness is a very high level of self absorption.
I like to do what I want.
When I want.
How I want.
Don’t get me wrong, I can be selfless and put others before myself, but only when I want to and in ways I want to.
That personality trait isn’t great when you’re single, but it’s easy to fake things long enough to not worry about changing.
When you get in a serious relationship, you start to see a legitimate reason to want to change.
Then when you have kids you have no other option than to change.
I can be selfless and put others before myself, but only when I want to and in ways I want to.
I remember driving home from a meeting when my daughter was a few months old. My wife had picked her up from daycare and they were already home. I knew my wife had had a rough day at work from the text messages she’d sent me throughout the day. On top of that our daughter was teething and teething can turn the cutest of babies into tiny terrorists.
I didn’t want to deal with all that. I’d had a stressful day and wanted to come home, eat dinner and check out for the night.
But my wife needed me to help her process her day.
And my daughter needed me to be her daddy and help in whatever way I could.
As much as I wanted to disconnect from everything that night, other people were counting on me to be present and helpful.
When I put my car into park that evening, I said a simple six word prayer:
Give me patience. Give me grace.
I knew without those two things I would be a distant jerk of a husband and dad that night. Left to my own, there’s no way I could’ve been the person the most important people in my life needed me to be.
Thankfully – it worked.
Give me patience. Give me grace.
I didn’t win any awards for parenting or win husband of the year that night, but I was at least 1% less worse than normal. Because I knew I needed patience, and because I knew I needed grace, I was active in looking for the places I could use them.
That simple prayer has become my go-to prayer.
When my three month old son wakes up twelve times in one night: Give me patience. Give me grace.
When my toddler daughter wants to throw all her food on the floor because she’s done eating: Give me patience. Give me grace.
When my wife asks me to help with something she could do herself: Give me patience. Give me grace.
The funny thing about that prayer is I can tell when I don’t pray it. Those are the times I get the most frustrated at my wife and kids. I slip into selfish jerk mode like I’m sliding into my favorite pair of sweat pants. It’s so easy to do that I don’t even realize I’m doing it half the time.
This week I challenge you to pray those six words. Pray them as you go into work. Pray them when you talk to extended family members. And pray them when you’re at home.
God tells us we don’t have things because we don’t ask for them.
So why don’t we ask?