Joseph and the shock of parenthood

 I never realized how incredibly selfish I was until I had kids. On the Richter scale, the shock of parenthood was a magnitude 10, and I was smack-dab at the epicenter.

 What do you mean that I can’t get a good night of sleep? That I have to change diapers and mix up foul-smelling formula and clean bottles and try to get out those mysterious stains that appear on my baby’s clothing? I still wanted things to be like they were before, only with a perfect baby to show off when I browsed the aisles of Barnes and Noble, pondering what hip new novel to buy. Nope. Didn’t happen.

All my faults were revealed: I was selfish, self-centered and pretty much any negative adjective that included “self” in it.

If I hadn’t been sleep deprived, I probably would have muttered a prayer like, “Thanks for the cute baby, God, but did you have to include the revelation-of-my-sin part along, too?”

I had to change, so I did (mostly). Cleaned up messes too gross for public mention. Yawned and stumbled into the nursery at 2 a.m. to feed a screaming baby or search for a missing pacifier. Bought OxyClean to rid her clothes (and mine) of those stains of unknown origin. Learned how to love unselfishly (though not perfectly) . . . because I was doing all these things for my child.

 Just this morning, I read a blog quoting lyrics from recording artist Andy Gullahorn. One song captured my feelings about parenthood. Andy described how his child had an accident all over his daddy’s clothes, and yet the gross, nasty mishap didn’t change his feelings for his child one bit.

I got a good giggle out of the image of Andy’s Sunday clothes being drenched with pee. Then I sighed in relief that it wasn’t me being soaked!

 Why weren’t his feelings towards his child changed? Because of the love he had for his son.

 Yesterday, I read a poem by a friend of mine about Christ’s birth. She wrote about the love that must’ve exploded within Joseph as he gazed at his new baby boy, the Son of God wrapped up in human flesh, given to him and his young wife to raise. Did he count Jesus’ fingers and toes? Gaze at his red face, his bald head, his quivering lips as Mary nursed him? Wish he could’ve provided a better resting place than an animal’s manger? Wonder if he would be a good daddy?

 I bet he did. Even if Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological child, he was still the earthly father that God gave his son. I can’t imagine that God would’ve chosen a selfish man as the husband to Jesus’ mama and the daddy to Jesus. But I imagine that the entire pregnancy—scandal—childbirth—parenting situation forced him to become more unselfish.

Did Joseph ever surprise himself at the things he was willing to do after Jesus was born? I sure did. Being a parent is one of the many ways God has broken me of my selfishness. A less than eight pound pee-and-poop machine turned me upside down and inside out. Now back to changing diapers . . .


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