Pacifiers

Tuesday marked a first for me – the first full day I was responsible for Julia on my own. And I have to say I was pretty excited about the opportunity. Molly had jury-duty all day and had left me very clear and precise instructions on Julia’s daily routine, along with supplies for meals and tips on what to do just in case things happened to go ‘south’ on me. Not to ruin the ending, but we had a great day together with no major disasters to report of. The day was topped of with Julia looking at me with a big smile on her face just before she went to bed as if to say, “Thank you for taking care of me today, Daddy!”

Now, I’ll have to admit that one of the most difficult adjustments so far in parenting has had to do with the amount of ‘personal’ time I’ve had (or no longer have) in the course of a day…the consistency of my daily routine…time to do things that I want to do or things that need to be done. Sitting with Julia in the living-room mid-morning between a nap and lunch, I had a few different things going on: Julia wide-awake with me on her play mat, a variety of toys in the floor used to entertain her, and my laptop so that I could (of course) do some work in the process. Multitasking…you know…that thing that some of us pretend we’re so good at so for the purpose of getting more and more things accomplished in a day…

Anyway, during this particular sitting with Julia, I kept noticing that every time I’d turn my attention to the computer for a few moments, she’d begin to get a little fussy and whiney. (Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not like we sit in front of Julia all day trying to entertain her to keep her from crying…hopefully you know what I mean here…) So I did what I often do at such moments – I reached for the pacifier (which, by the way, is a proven life-saver and calming-tool we often turn to in the Shelton household). But after a few more minutes, Julia had spit ‘paci’ out of her mouth and was back to her wimpering. So I hit the save button, and returned my attention toward her. Immediately she’d start smiling and cooing again. Once I thought I had her calmed and in a better mood, I reached for ‘paci’ once again. Same result as before…crying and whining. I finally realized I had to close my laptop and focus on her for a little while. Multitasking wasn’t working here…and neither was ‘paci.’ I had to give her my full attention. What an inconvenience…

Hang on to that thought for a moment.

I’ve been thinking about this over the past couple of days and how I’m (and perhaps we’re…) so guilty of reaching for a pacifier to put in someone’s mouth when they bring their problems, cares, burdens and hurts to us…especially when they come at inconvenient moments in our lives. We’ve all had days when we’ve felt like I’ve got enough problems of my own, and the last thing I need is yours. Sound familiar? Perhaps you know what it’s like for someone to pacify you. Pacifiers come in a variety of different ways, don’t they: Oh, I’m really sorry to hear that. I’ll be thinking of you. I wish I could help, but… I’ll/We’ll be praying for you. Hmmm. Etc. And just like with children sometimes, we love to put ‘pacifiers’ in other’s mouths so that we can move on with our lives and focus on the things we want to/need to, rather than giving that person perhaps what they need most…our time, our focus, our hearts. How inconvenient…

Paul’s letter to the Galatians includes the words, Bear/Carry each other’s burdens, and as we do, we’re told that we’re actually fulfilling the law of Christ. Law? What law? Think back to Jesus’ words in John 13 where He says, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you… When you think of Jesus’ life, it was filled with interruptions, inconvenient moments (like in Mark 6 when Jesus and the disciples are trying to get away to a quiet place…read the story in v.30-44 to see what happened)…moments where Jesus figuratively had to close the laptop and focus on the people who needed him. You don’t see Jesus using a pacifier with people so that He can move on with His business. He always has time, He always loves, and He encourages us into the same Way.

Consider your pacifiers today…

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