I am no stranger to internal conflict. Each day events occur in which I am forced to make decisions where the main conflict arises, not from external forces, but from within myself. Usually these are relatively simple decisions; should I hit the snooze button, do I write or practice for a bit or watch TV, go into the office early or play with my son. On any given day either one of the choices could be right, considering the situation. Occasionally however a more difficult decision arises.
Today my son would not go down for his nap. He is two and at that age where he thinks that his room is a playground. He has even taken to pooping almost immediately after either my wife or I leave his room. He knows we won’t get mad at him if he’s not sleeping because of a messy diaper. It is infuriating. And the worst part is I constantly go back and forth trying to figure out how to address the issue. Should I (gently) toss him into his crib and let him cry through it? Do I just keep changing him and being patient? Is he doing this deliberately to try and postpone his nap and annoy me, or is he just not super tired? Honestly, I have no idea, and he doesn’t really have the capacity to say yet.
So about an hour into this process, I finally think he’s fallen asleep. Another ten minutes goes by and I hear him whimpering. This is new. Sometimes he fusses, normally he’s just either quiet or screaming. So I go up and check on him and find him stuck, folded up like a taco, sitting, wedged between his bed and changing table quietly whimpering “hep, hep, hep” for help. My heart immediately breaks, and I feel so bad for not going up to check on him sooner. I put him gently back in bed and tell him to lay down. I leave and he immediately tries to climb back up onto his changing table! I no longer feel bad.
He’s finally asleep. Its been 2 hours, most of a blog, and several Oreos. I began this thinking I’d write about the conflict within me, but I’ve realized this is more about my son’s conflict with himself. He was definitely tired, he just didn’t want to sleep. As his father, I know he still needs a nap. He’d be miserable for the afternoon and evening if he didn’t sleep. He had a really long weekend and woke up early this morning. He doesn’t seem to see any of this though. All he knows is that he wants to be playing but dad’s telling him to go to sleep.
Isn’t this so often the case with us. We can’t see beyond our own desires to what really matters. I was listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast this morning. It was a re-run about discipline. Being a disciplined person, developing good habits, you know basic things. What I realized is that achieving goals is more about seeing the big picture than anything else. We often don’t achieve long term gratification because we constantly give in to short term desires. Often this is to our own detriment. As a culture (and very generally speaking), we’re overweight, lazy people who want what we want and we want it now.
Even now, it’s a struggle for me to keep writing. I’d much rather be watching SG-1 reruns or Dr. Who. The short term desire tugs at my mind. Still I press on. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Cor 9:24-27.
Amen and Amen.