It was 3:30AM. My eyes crusted over with the lasting effects of a nasty sinus infection. My glasses were folded on the nightstand just out of arms reach. But in the haunting green glow of the bedside alarm clock, I could still make out the silhouette of what I desperately hoped was my 12 year old daughter and not those robbers my son is always dreaming about.
“Daddy, I got sick.”
Little did I know how serious she was.
As I sleepily made my way through the loft into the upstairs hallway, I saw it. And unfortunately, sight wasn’t the only sense that was being accosted.
Night-after-Japanese-steakhouse-sister-birthday-celebration vomit. Everywhere. And I mean everywhere. (Did I say it was everywhere?). It was everywhere.
The wise thing to do at this point is to allow your imagination to take over, but if you’re strong stomached and need further visual evidence, this brilliant scene from the 80s film “Stand By Me” should do the trick. (If a little swearing and barfing get you worked up, please click with care).
Never in all my years have I cleaned up anything even remotely close to that. And if I’m being honest, I wasn’t handling it all that well internally. As my wife assembled the carpet cleaner, I was kneeling over a purple bucket wrestling with the following middle of the night lecture notes:
“Seriously, you couldn’t make it the 10 steps to the bathroom before you let this go?”
“Come on, Emma! You’re 12 years old not three. This is ridiculous!”
“What in the world is that? Did she really eat that?”
“This looks like a CSI crime scene.”
“Why can’t my kids be more responsible with their illnesses?”
(Rational though and 3:30AM vomit don’t always hang out together).
My baby girl was fighting some kind of nasty stomach bug, but my compassion for her was being drowned beneath my own inconvenience (and the smell of recycled soy sauce and ginger dressing). How often do my frustrations manifest in shame, scolding, and unreasonable expectations that end up driving wedges between me and my most important relationships?
Luckily, I was too tired to verbalize my internal angst. Morning (and a good shower) brought renewed insight.
I’m thankful today for a God who lets me throw up on His carpet, and yet still always manages to draw me towards transformation with His grace, mercy, and unfailing love. His response to my most unsightly moments somehow leaves me longing to run towards Him with reckless abandon, and never away.
I want to be that kind of daddy, too.