Meekness Served Hot

Sausages on the grill

If you’ve read any of my recent articles, you’ve probably seen that my personal path to sainthood is directly tied to my three-year-old.

To no surprise, the boy continues to sanctify me.

The other day, my wife brought home sausages from a local farm. These were delicious. All you could hope for out of sausage. Just wonderful.

Both my boys, (yes, we actually have four kids, but somehow my three-year-old is the only one who makes it into my writings), are meat eaters. Burgers, steak, hot dogs, bacon — they’re ready to rock.

Well on this fine Tuesday, the three-year-old is having none of it. It starts with him simply moving the sausage around his plate, then off his plate, then onto the floor. 20 minutes pass. The tantrum continues. He offers the sausage to his brother (who loved it). Naturally, I respond “That’s a negative Ghost Rider, the pattern’s full.” 40 minutes pass. He sneaks behind my back and throws the sausage in the trash can. I may or may not have salvaged a few pieces from the garbage. Just kidding — my wife did. But we definitely lost a couple. He’s got maybe 3 pieces left (I think my other son did eat some).

After close to an hour, the rest of the family is done and cleaning up. Finally, I am able to bribe him to take one bite…

“Oh, this is good. Can I have more?”

After a few minutes in timeout, I finally calm down.

For some reason, my mind recalls the centurion telling Christ: “For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:9.

And here I am saying, “Hmm yes, I am also a man of authority. To my son, I say eat, and he says: “OVER MY DEAD BODY! TAKE NO PRISONERS!””

Well fortunately the next morning, I read this: “Meekness gives us self-mastery to overcome every kind of irritation.”

Every kind of irritation. Point taken.

For us men, and especially for fathers, there’s a reason the Lord says very specifically: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” Matthew 11:29

Meekness and humility are essential to being a father. Dealing with irritation is the same as facing opposition. Opposition implies two things at odds. In the Sausage Saga, it was my will for my son to eat versus his will to not. With kids, this is almost always the case. Dad’s will versus theirs.

This obviously applies to everyone, not just fathers. When it comes to losing our cool, it’s usually because something external, outside of ourselves, is in opposition to our internal preference, thinking, etc.

In times of irritation, the question to ask is: does this opposition exist because of my internal position? Is it exacerbated because of what I want?

I’ll be honest, in my own reflection, I lose my patience and get angry more than I want. But it was a humbling moment for me to realize that often my impatience or anger is not that. It’s my pride. It’s attachment to my will, my way of doing things, my way of thinking.

Does my son need to eat? Yes. Should the kids be sleeping instead of wrestling? Yes. Could my daughter move a little bit faster when we’re already running late? Yes. Should my 5-year-old stop yelling at 6am to ask when it’s time to get up? Yes.

Should Dad fly off the handles when kids behave like kids? No.

And maybe with a little meekness, Dad can stop his temper tantrums.

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