Monday, May 4, 2009

I've noticed that my prayers are changing lately ... without me consciously deciding to change.

It used to be that I saw God as withholding things from me ... almost dangling them before me, just out of reach, waiting for me to get the prayer right. Y'know, to say the "right" prayer, to have the "right" attitude, to use the right words, the right body-position, to (I may as well say it) use the right "incantation" to get God to do what I wanted. As if God were a cosmic vending machine, and I had to have the exact change to get the goodies.

I moved away from that imagery a while ago (whew!), but for a while, I continued to try to "get it right" -- albeit more subtly.

I had the impression that God was a bit disappointed in me ... even frustrated with me, and perhaps even running out of patience (yikes!). Would I get zapped in some sort of way? Was I nearing the end of my warranty? Sheesh, the stakes could be pretty dire here!

Then, I came to see that the only way someone can be disappointed in another, is to have an unrealistic expectation of them. As a parent, I can think, "you should've known better." Truth is, they didn't know better (even if I'd told them better) ... they're a human child, and the nature of a human child is to be a bit (ok, a lot) oblivious, and to learn, even if the learning has to come the hard way (LOL, in my case, when does it not?). And, as a human parent, I can indeed have an unrealistic expectation of how *I* think my child *should* think/speak/act (& especially when I erroneously believe that my identity is wrapped up in my children making ME look good -- egads!).

However, God is not a human parent. He is the Good Father... the perfect (complete) Parent. He, being omniscient, knows all things as they truly are ... God, knowing who I am, and how *HE* made me to be, cannot possibly have an unrealistic expectation of me. Before I think/say/do a thing, He already knows it (He's outside of time, in the realm of the Absolute). So then, how could God EVER be disappointed in me..? He knows that He's given me freedom to make choices, and that choices bring about consequences, and that consequences bring about experience, and that experience teaches us what we need to learn. Even if it takes umpteen times of going around that same ol' rock, 'til we finally connect the dots, and have our own "aha" moment. As the prodigal son did ... waking up in the pig stye, coming to his own senses, realizing who he was (child of the Father), and doing what a child naturally would do -- returning home.

I've watched 8 children learning to walk ... I saw them take their first faltering steps, saw the delight of discovery on their determined little faces ... observed what (inevitably!) happened when each of them fell on their own little bottoms. In every case, they turned to me, to see how I was responding to their fall... as if my response would form the framework for how they would perceive of their experience. It never occurred to me to scold them for falling, to shame them for not "getting it right the first time." My reaction, every time (even as an imperfect human parent), was to laugh with delight, to say, "you fell down, it's ok". I was utterly delighted with their attempt to step out, besotted with joy in their faltering attemps -- I knew that they were doing the best they could, given what they then had to work with. AND, I knew that they would improve ... I knew that falling was part of the learning process. Falling, in the larger scheme of things, is GOOD.

So too, I dare to believe, God sees us, when we falteringly, fumblingly, feebly stumble. The question is, when we turn to God, to see His reaction (by which to form the framework for our perception), what do we see on His face? Do we see a smile of delight, even His head thrown back in laughter, in joy? Or do we envision a scowling, disappointed, even angry face, and hear the "you should've done better" message....?

Can we dare to believe that the former is the real reaction of God, and that the latter is our own projection onto Him?

Do we believe in the God in whose image we are created, or do we believe in a god whom we have created in our own image..?

Back to how I've changed how I pray...

Coming to see this God who is delighted in me (a God who really is too good to NOT be true), I've come to where I no longer feel the need to ask (to beg!) for Him to give me good things. I've come to where knowing who He is, knowing how He sees me, is the "goodest" thing He could ever give me ... and I already have that (the only question being, am I aware of it?).

I've moved from a "fearship" with God, into a friendship with God. I am the most astonished and delighted and awe-struck woman I know, that this has happened to me.

Within that perspective, that relationship, I have come to where I now just thank God for whatever comes my way. I trust that all things are indeed working out for my good (no matter how I perceive them when they come to me). I trust that whatever happens is what I *need*. I trust that pain gives birth to growth.

"Even before you ask, I have answered." Says God.

So, when I'm in the midst of a "problem," I can pray, "Thank You that the solution for this situation has already been made manifest, and that it will be revealed. Thank You that I will learn from this. Thank You that you will enable me to see this for the good that it is. Thank You that You always give me just what I need, and that you will enable me to recognize that reality."

It's a hard prayer to pray, when the pain is thick, when the fear is tangible, when the evidence screams "this is bad!" But, it never fails to alter my perspective, to give me hope, to bring me to peace. And IN that peace, I can have the clarity to see whatever it is I need to see, whatever it is I need to do.

So, I've stopped asking God for things, and have started thanking Him for things.

God comes to me disgused as my life.


Shalom, Dena


JoJoBeans said...

ah, dena, girl... I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE BLOGGING! thanks a bundle girl!

Anonymous said...

Excellent Dena! Glad to have you "up and running" in the blogosphere. You have quite a way with words!

Frank, you favorite futurist!