I'm the kind of person who always tries to find a reason for everything...traffic, a lackluster recipe, the existence of the universe. My wife assures me that everything doesn't have to have a reason, especially when it comes to why our kids may be upset or crying about something. "They must be tired," I reason, because if I can find a source for the issue, maybe I can find a solution. Whether she is right or not, I don't know (but she probably is).

So when it comes to difficulties in parenting -- and there are plenty -- it helps me get through when I can figure out why. Lately, we have been really struggling with the juxtaposition of our friends who don't have kids, with their routines and activities, against our largely at-home lifestyle with kids. Last weekend we went to a baby shower and noticed how the childless parents were enjoying long conversations with friends, eating leisurely, having a nice Saturday afternoon before their imminent date nights, golf games and dance parties. Meanwhile, we were struggling to get a few words in with other parents in between making sure our kids ate enough without making a mess, weren't stuffing their faces with desert, tearing decorations off of the table or quietly escaping to the park outside. Parenting is difficult, but we endure.

It takes a lot of patience on my part, but Waverly is getting good at puzzles! Expanding her mind...

As I reflected on this past weekend, it occurred to me that maybe this difficulty is in the design of parenthood. We are called to deny ourselves by Jesus, right? So what better way to do that than to place little creatures in our lives that require more attention that we have to give both ourselves and them, resulting the denial of somebody's needs. Of course, we usually choose to ditch our own needs before our kids' (though some parents don't and even the best parents can't help but be a little selfish at times), so mission accomplished, right? Perhaps that paints a sadistic picture of God, but's my reasoning, not yours.

It makes sense in my mind though. I mean, just an hour ago I gave the girls a snack, making sure they were fed before me (I was pretty hungry). Afterwards, Waverly needed help with a puzzle, and though I still hadn't eaten yet, she has been so excited about puzzles lately that I wanted to foster that interest. I denied myself for the good of someone else, and that is certainly good for my soul, right?

So the next time you are frustrated as a parent, or maybe just frustrated in life, consider that perhaps this broken world is more about preparing ourselves for the next life than finding comfort here. It certainly puts small and momentary problems into a larger context, which is a perspective that lends itself well to perseverance.