This story is shared by Mark Barrow
Monday morning begins the same way it always does: me pounding the snooze button. Just give me five more minutes, I beg the alarm clock. It goes off again in what feels like five seconds.
I slam the alarm clock a second time, a third time, and finally a fourth time. I hope that somehow, this will warp the space-time continuum and catapult me straight into Saturday. Unfortunately, the clock stubbornly insists it’s 6:47. Not good, especially when I’m supposed to be out of the house by 6:45.
I stumble out of bed and frantically look for a clean shirt. Other than a bunch of warmups that went out of style in the eighties, there’s nothing to be found. On the floor is a pile of laundry that should have been washed two weeks ago.
I dig through the laundry in search of the shirt that stinks the least. Sniffing through the armpits, I find one that’s not too funky. I throw it on, convince myself the wrinkles aren’t that noticeable, and grab my briefcase.
Ready to hit the road, I’m halfway out the door when I realize I forgot something. The kid.
“Michael!” I yell. No response. That only means one thing – my mischievous three year old is up to something. Running through the house, I find him working on his latest art project: toothpaste drawings on bathroom mirror. Minty-fresh monsters, airplanes, and cartoon characters. Michael beams with pride as he shows off his latest creation.
The little Picasso isn’t even dressed. His mother, who’s supposed to get him ready while I stumble around the house like a moron, is snoring loudly in bed. Her snooze button apparently works just fine.
“Jesus H. Christ!” I exclaim. That’s the good thing about kids – they help you find Jesus. I let out a sigh of exasperation. Cute kid, definitely. But I’m still late for work.
“C’mon, let’s go, let’s go,” I plead. Michael doesn’t budge.
“Michael Jeffrey Barrow! Haul your butt out of there!” Ah, the middle name. Lets him know I mean business. But Michael stays right where he is, and he says the one thing that drops an anvil of guilt on my head:
The kid has me cornered big time. It’s a major league priority check. What am I doing hollering at my kid, who means more to me than anything else in the world? I drop the briefcase.
“Michael, come here for a second,” I continue. This time, my voice has a much more patient tone to it. Michael drops the toothpaste and shifts forward.
“You’re absolutely right, Michael,” I begin. “Daddy needs to smile. But I feel kind of sad, too. It’s hard to smile when you’re feeling sad. What do you do if Daddy’s feeling sad?” Michael looks at me forlornly and shrugs.
“You give him a big hug!” I grab Michael in a bear hug and we both break into raucous laughter. The office can wait, this is quality time with my son.
Later that evening, we’re eating in a restaurant when a solemn-looking man walks by our aisle. Michael doesn’t miss a beat. He stands up and points at the guy.
“Daddy! That man is sad! He needs a hug!” The man freezes in his tracks, smiles, and gives Michael a high-five. That’s twice in one day he’s created an instant smile.
At bedtime, we’re reading the Dr. Seuss classic Hop on Pop. As fate would have it, there’s a segment about Dad being sad (“what a day dad had”). Sure enough, right on cue, Michael jumps up out of bed and gives dad a hug. Boom, instant smile.
As with the other situations, it’s not a quick-fix smile. It’s not a band-aid smile. It’s a bona fide, uplifting, goosebump-raising, bliss-inducing smile. The whole enchilada.
There’s a message here, one so obvious it doesn’t need an explanation. The simple truth is, God is Love. And a hug, brimming with God’s love, is the best medicine of them all.