Someday I think I might write a book entitled Everything I Need to Know About Authentic Prayer I Learned From My Moody Fifth-Grader. I never have to guess how Jaden is feeling toward me; when he’s angry, it isn’t a mystery. When he’s sad or disappointed or any other variation of bummed-out, he says so. I’m sure he may become more and more enigmatic as puberty moves in like an intrusive houseguest over the next few years, but for now, Jaden still seems to want me to know when he’s upset. And why? Because I’m his parent -- and while I seem to become less cool by the day in his opinion, he still believes on some level that I am capable of kissing his (emotional) boo-boos.
has helped me, over the years, to understand Father God just a little bit
better. I am now better able to identify with Him as “parent” – as One who
allows circumstances to befall me, allows life to happen to me in all its complexity,
so that I will learn and grow and develop character, etc. But don’t be too
impressed; that’s a very tidy description of a very messy process.
taking a few pointers from my ten-year-old and his shameless emotional transparency
when in distress, I guess I’ve changed
up my prayer life a bit in recent weeks. For many years, somewhat unknowingly,
I had adhered to a respectful, albeit formulaic, method of communication with
God, most often probably adhering to the A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession,
Thanksgiving, Supplication) structure that so many of us were taught in Sunday
School. And while I believe it’s important to praise and confess and enter into
God’s presence with gratitude, I guess I just . . . had enough. I had to get
real. Truth? It hasn’t been pretty.
thank God for that. Seriously. Because I think I’m finally catching on about
what it means to approach Him as a child, just as Jaden approaches me – and it
is far less polite than prayer-as-usual. When my kid has an issue – especially an
issue with me – he walks right in and
lays it out on the table, daring me to do something about it. And yes, he’s
ten, and some of his approach might have to do with a ten-year-old’s capacity
for impulse control. But nevertheless, it’s honest – and that’s what I want to
be. In fact, at this point in my journey, I don’t feel like I can afford to be
lately look like this: “God, where were You when . . .?” and “How could You . . . ?”
and even “How dare You . . . ?” Bold,
I know. Shocking? Not to my Father. He knows me. He knows what is really in my
heart and on my mind, ugly as it is sometimes. And he welcomes my outbursts. He
can work with brutal honesty. It’s the pious politeness – censorship, really – that
ties His hands. He won’t force me to get real with Him. He receives me as I
come to Him, He listens as I spout off my pre-cleaned, sanitized sentiments,
seeing my heart all the while – and He waits. For me to lose the mask. For me
to get real. Maybe even for me to get mad.
hear women say to me, “I’m really mad at God, and I know that’s wrong.”
Whoa. Hold the phone; where’d we get that idea? Read the Psalms. David was one
emotional dude; the Psalms read like a rapid-cycling bipolar diary. And yet we
read that David was a man after God’s own heart. God was especially fond of
David – and I suspect that it was his emotional transparency that God found so
endearing. He was mad at God a lot – and he never really pulled any punches or
minced any words. And now we have this amazing chronicle of one man’s journey with
God, and it gives us permission, in a way, to get real. Or, at least, it
does for me.
here it is, shocking or not: I’m mad at God. For a lot of things. I’m
disappointed. I’m confused. I disagree with Him on several points, and we’re
duking it out, Him and me.
friend asked me yesterday, with narrowed eyes and furrowed brow: “How are you
doing, really?” And I answered her
slowly, carefully: “I am wrestling with God. And it’s . . . okay. It’s a worthy
think . . . I think I really believe
that. I’d rather be shaking my fist at God, fully relying on the
unlimited access I’ve been granted through Jesus, than to be poised and proper,
hands folded into a very prim, pretty, tightly-clasped lie. Truth is, things
between God and me are not all that smooth right now. There’s some tension. There’s
disagreement. The air is not yet clear. But, we are on speaking terms. No more silent
treatment. It’s raw, it’s ugly, and it doesn’t feel good. I feel out of
And that's something He can work with.