It started quite by accident. I woke up one morning and just couldn't get back to sleep. So, I made some coffee and decided to make the best use of the quiet time that I could. I began praying. It stuck.
There are a few variances in the line-up of prayers, but always include the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily Mass readings and meditation from The Word Among US, a reflection on the Saint of the Day from Laudate, and some interior personal prayer seeking the help of the Lord to be a better husband, father, and all of the "roles" to which I subscribe in life; in short, to become the man that God calls me to be.
Inevitably, around 6:23, I begin making breakfast for Brandon and Monica so that it is just about ready when they arrive to the table.
Inevitably, things don't go as planned. They are 8 and 5 you know.
This morning? Yes; the inevitable.
First, Monica did not want to wake up. Then she procrastinated getting to the table. Of course she was not happy with what I prepared and mad that I had failed to buy milk after I poured the last of the jug for their breakfast yesterday.
Brandon did not like the way Monica was eating her breakfast and decided that she needed a stern lecture from him regarding the proper consumption of the food in her plate.
Monica (who is 5 going on 16 and believes that if anyone is going to lecture anyone else about how to do something, she's going to be the one doing the lecturing) did not take kindly to Brandon's brotherly intervention.
The arguing started. I intervened. It continued. I got louder. It continued. I got mad and more forceful. It continued. I let them have it. I "told them how the cow ate the cabbage." We had a "come to Jesus meeting." Use whatever little metaphorical quote you like as long as you come to the conclusion that I lost my temper - and had no intention of looking for it either.
Uggg! Brandon became completely still and quiet. The expression on his face completely changed. He quickly took the last few bites he had remaining of his food, gulped down the last of his juice, placed his plate in the sink, and scurried out of the kitchen.
I called him back, and he quickly returned. His face was a bit reddish, and his eyes were watery. I pulled him close and hugged him with the best "I'm sorry that I lost my temper, and I really love you" hug that I could give. He cried. It hurt. I teared.
I Should Be Better
I should be better at this fatherhood business. Brandon and Monica are not my first rodeo in the children's department. There's Joel (27), Amanda (25), and Michael (23); all of whom I have enjoyed and lamented various stages or levels of interpersonal relationships with.
I want to believe that Brandon and Monica have benefited from the difficult lessons I have learned and from my successes and failures in my relationships with my older children.
I know that in many ways, they have. Sometimes though, I believe that has more to do with how inadequate I have been in the past rather than how paternally adequate I am at present.
Inevitably, What Kind of Man am I?
What kind of man am I? Really; because it's not just today. It's not just the children. As much as I would like to deny it, before the day is through, I will inevitably be short-tempered, sarcastic, moody, or outright mean towards my wife. The woman is a saint to put up with me in this marriage. No, she really is a saint. You can read all about it here.
Inevitably (are you seeing a pattern here?) I will say something in a tone or manner to one or both of my parents that I will later regret.
I won't pick up the phone to make a call that I know I should but just can't bring myself to do it.
Instead of praying for that jerk who drives like he owns the road, I'll get mad and yell "You've gotta be kidding me!" I'd feel better if I could just stay calm and let it go.
I'll get mad at friends and acquaintances on social media sites or blogs that make posts that are offensive, inappropriate, or in some way fail to meet the expectations that I have set for them.
I'll become frustrated with some (or all) politicians and the failure of the media to invest itself in real journalism rather than slant its "reporting" in the hopes of milking more of those who invest (money and themselves) into their broadcasts.
Inevitably, I will become upset or even angry at people I know and people I don't know - and over things that matter and things that are really silly as well.
What kind of man am I?
Convicted, Accused, or Left Alone?
Last year I wrote a blog post "Are you convicted, accused, or left alone?"
Those deeply lost in sin are blinded, deaf, and numb to the convictions of conscience. In essence, they're so far gone that even the devil leaves them alone.
The feeling of accusation pulls us down, attempts to chain us to our sinful nature and attempts to cripple us from moving forward with God. It cannot be of or from God.
When we feel convicted, we are feeling that tug of the Holy Spirit which helps us face the truth that we have sinned and need to be reconciled with God. But even deeper, it leads to repentance and a desire to get back up and try harder.
Knowing I had hurt Brandon, I had those feelings of accusation.
What kind of man are you!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
When Necessary, Use Words
Was that 2 hours (or better) of prayer this morning all for nothing? If this is the way I am going to react to my children, to my family, to my friends, to anyone, what's the point?
In a moment - I don't really know how long in the chronos because it was a Kairos moment - the Holy Spirit (The Comforter) dispelled the accusation and brought me to conviction. That's the point; the point that prayer helped to lead me to "repentance and a desire to get back up and try harder."
I knew that I couldn't let Brandon go to school feeling there was animosity or worse, hostility between us. The silent embrace we shared healed the hurt between us.
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. (St. Francis of Assisi)
Remember Joel? Last month, Joel made a post on his own blog (Irenic Herald) titled "The Most Manly Man."
I wasn't surprised to be mentioned since he had done so before. I was surprised though to read what he wrote.
This man is the most imperfect, vulnerable, loving, and honest man that I know. He isn't the best by a long shot, and he accepts that and every day he does his best to be the best child of God, husband, and father that he can be. He knows that we are not complete or successful until we have served the Lord and other people and are resting in God's Kingdom. My father, George Vogt IV, is one of the most amazing men I have ever known, and truly, I have learned so much from watching his failures... but not the failures themselves. I've learned from watching his reactions to all of his challenges in life.
Thank you Joel for reminding me of what kind of man I am.
Irenic - favoring, conducive to, or operating toward peace, moderation, or conciliation (Merriam Webster)