May 18, 2020
By Fadi Kamel
“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven.” (Lamentations 3:40-41 ESV)
What does it mean to self-reflect? It means to examine and test our ways. This pandemic has surely created some space for me to do just that. Not out of fear or uncertainty of the outcome but rather because I am a new dad trying to figure out how to raise a newborn in the middle of it all.
Like many of you, we have not seen our family and friends for weeks now. We were fortunate enough that Ezra was born right before the “Stay at Home” order was placed. Our parents and siblings got to meet him and surround us during such a special time, but it was short lived. We are now entering week six of not seeing or embracing anyone other than the three of us and while we love each other so, being cooped up for weeks has tested Jillian and myself. Having a support system is more powerful and life giving then you realize until it is stripped away. Compound the hard season of having a newborn, with being alone, and navigating the stress of working from home and trying to keep my family safe has caused my patience to run short. Just a few triggers in and it’s all boiling back up to the surface. This is hard for me to write as its not some grand revelation, or an opinion-based post. It’s not something I have figured out or am even on the other side of it yet. This is just me, being vulnerable, letting those who have followed along this journey for years, in. But what I do know is that the worst thing I can do during this time is ignore the present opportunity to self-reflect on my past, present and future.
Jesus doesn’t want to consume a portion of me, He wants to occupy all of me. I have mentioned this before but now I must remind myself once more; a relationship with Jesus is not a sprint but a marathon. It is a lifelong commitment; like marriage. Marriage has a funny way of bringing out the best, and the worst of us. Jesus wants that deep of a relationship with me not just to expose my ugly but to teach me His steadfastness through it all. Now, through fatherhood, it’s my selfishness that is being revealed to me. I have lost my patience many times because the baby won’t sleep or won’t eat or wants to be up in the middle of the night. All of this is very normal and some of you parents might be cracking up about this, but this is my first go and I am truly struggling. It’s not the tiredness or the exhaustion that is getting to me, but it is how angry and fractured I get.
In my B.C days, before Christ, I had temper issues, which manifested verbally. It wouldn’t take much for me to lose my patience and let my family or loved ones have it. Since I have come to Christ, I have found peace and quiet in my heart. To take a step back and breathe and now six years later, I truly feel like a new person. This is of course until we went into quarantine. As the weeks of no family and friends roll by, I am finding my shortness of patience is resurfacing. This has caused much pain for my entire family. Jillian and I have had many conversations, we have prayed many times and yet I fall again. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when hurtful words came out. I said, “I cannot do this again and I am one and done with babies.” I said this at 3 in the morning when my emotions were high, and exhaustion was at a new level. Yet, what I said pierced Jillian’s heart, and the next morning I knew what I said broke my heart too. How could I break and just give up like this?
Now, more than ever, I realize how vulnerable and fragile our world is, myself included. Through all the advances we’ve made, it is only a hundred thousandths sized bacterial cell away from crashing. All of this to say that family and friends support during the newborn stage matters. My heart truly goes out to the parents that live out of state from their families, that have lost loved ones, that have spouses serving overseas, the ones who do it “alone.” I am thankful for my little family and hate to even be feeling this way because I feel I am starting to crack. I am confessing this to you and to God and that is just it! And there it was, the revelation that surfaced out of all of this. Take this time to test and examine your ways. Do some self-reflecting through prayer and conversing with Jesus. Confess what needs confessing. Tell a family member or a friend and even more importantly tell God!
This pandemic could be tactic of the devil to make us fall but no, not with Jesus. This is an opportunity for us to confess our sins and lean in even more on Jesus. The time may resurface your past hurt and pain or like me past anger issues. I don’t know what it may be for you, but I know that God’s grace is new every day and He doesn’t want you to waste this time. May the pressure of this time not cause pain, but like vines make new wine out of us. For me, I will admit it makes me feel weak, but thanks be to God that He came here for the weak.