Three children were granted to us, a girl and then, together, one minute apart, two boys; and my prayers doubled, for now I knew fear for them, that they would sicken and die, that they would be torn by dogs and smashed by cars; and I felt even then the shiver of faint trepidation that someday, if they grew up safely, and did not suffer terrible diseases, and they achieved adulthood, that they would be heart-hammered by all sorts of things against which I could not protect or preserve them; and so I did, I admit it, sometimes beg the Coherent Mercy, late at night, for small pains as their lot, for relatively minor disappointments, for love affairs that would break apart but not savagely, for work that they would like and even maybe love.
In the end, I remember vividly, I boiled all my prayers as a parent down to this one: Take me instead of them. Load me up instead of them. Let me eat the pains they were served for their tables. I don’t think I ever fully understood the deep almost inexplicable love of the Christ for us, why he would accept his own early tortured death as a sacrifice, until I had been a father for a while.
—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace