For what felt like the umpteenth time this year as I bid him goodnight and sent him to bed, he asked, “Are you going to come pat my back?” I sighed and said, “Yes, honey, I always do. I’ll be there in a sec.” Our bedtime routine is just that – a routine. It is very seldom that I don’t go room to room to pat boys’ backs, tuck sheets around them, kiss their faces (then get the kisses wiped off, then kiss them again), and leave doors cracked just-so to keep nighttime fears away. In that moment, though, it was as if I had just walked into the room and overheard myself with fresh awareness. My spirit said: These days won’t last forever. You are just tired and feel like you have repeated yourself a million times today. Of course you will be there. He needs you. And then I thought to myself: Doesn’t he trust me by now? Why does he doubt? Why does he always ask me to come, when he knows that I always do? And my spirit said again: Sooner than you’d like, he’ll quit asking. I had fallen into the trap of the here & now, without even realizing it. Tired and frustrated, I was wishing away precious days. Precious days when he still needs me and believes that I have the power to fix his troubles. Precious days when I still have some say in what he does and where he goes. Precious days that I cannot ever reclaim. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG) reminds us to avoid the trap of the here & now: “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” These frustrations are small potatoes, y’all. On those days when someone has pushed every, single, cotton-picking button and you are about to blow a fuse … it’s small potatoes. On those days when you feel like nothing you do matters because no one apparently notices or cares … it’s small potatoes. God knows. God cares. You have eternal purpose, and you matter.