I am having a ton of fun with this book. The subtitle is “Creative Ways to Engage with God.” Kelly isn’t joking. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many ideas shared with me in such a short amount of time about prayer and ways to go about it (I used crayons today for the first time in probably ten years). I wish I could share some of my favorites so far (I just completed week three today).
My prayers have changed from this short interaction with this book. They are more vibrant and alive. I see our Father’s hand much more clearly in what He can and chooses to do for us if we just ask. I’ve never prayed for quite this number of other people either. My prayers are longer, but much more thoughtful. I can’t remember everyone I want to pray for, so I’m finding myself taking the book with me, opening my eyes, and then talking to Him about them. I understand that may seem strange, but there are numerous people in situations that need someone to pray for them and why not me?
One key idea that stood out to me on Day 6, was that “We often miss the answers to our prayers because we assume the answer will look a certain way.” Isn’t that true? I think I find myself almost telling God what to do and how to do it instead of saying I need help and then letting Him do what He wants. Here’s my dilemma with this whole “not my will but Thine” idea. I do admit, I have a hard time with it. Hopefully, I’m not the only one. I’m scared that what He wants to have happen may hurt. I know that God never purposefully hurts any of His children, but He allows things to happen so that we can grow and learn from them.
I took getting sick very hard. For three years, I was angry at God and wanted nothing to do with Him. No way was I going to ask Him for something. Look what He already allowed to happen. For my good?!? Yeah, right. With a few more years behind me, I can see how it has been good. It has hurt, a lot. It has been a major struggle in my life. However, it has brought me closer to God. It has given me this – reviewing good books and using them as tools to strengthen my relationship with Him. There is no part of me that wants to go through any other hard thing to grow this relationship, but I’m sure there are more learning and growing experiences ahead. I will complain and pout my way through those as well because deep down I am a two-year old. With this one behind me, I can hopefully draw on the wisdom He has given me through this and try to behave myself, but I’m not promising anything. He knows me and He knows I’m at least trying.
The OA message went along with this. The theme was that patience is required to change a lifetime of habits. That’s easy to forget. I think the older I get the more impatient I am becoming. Or I am becoming more aware of my impatience. I want to change – now. I want to give up this habit – now. I want to be who God wants me to be – now. It’s a lot of pressure, don’t you think? In my quiet, sane moments, I see that it’s not good and I’m not helping myself because I’m being so demanding, but it takes even more patience to be gentle with myself. My counselor talked about being gentle with myself a few weeks ago. She was mentioning it because of how many expectations I have of who I should be by now. “By now,” as if the age has anything to do with maturity. Yes, I’m forty-seven, but I can still throw a tantrum like a two-year old, minus the throwing myself on the floor. I cry. I lay in bed and pout. I say mean things that I don’t really mean about myself. Oh, boy. I have a lot of work to do.
I guess much of this comes back to how I view God. Is He warm and loving and kind? Or do I picture Him as harsh and as a punisher of my lacking ways? That’s what the AA devotional discussed. I think my view swings around a lot. It depends upon if I’m pouting or if I’m being grateful. One thing we believe in our faith is that God has restored apostles to the earth and that they have been given the power to bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost upon those who are baptized. Now, those twelve men don’t go around doing that personally, but they have authorized others all the way down to our local Priesthood brethren. This means that when a person is baptized, hands are laid upon their head and they are given a blessing and told to receive this great gift. I think that God gives us gifts like this to help us put away our tantrum throwing two-year old and to see Him for who He truly is – a kind and loving Father who wants nothing more than for His children to come home. It’s why we have a Savior in the first place – to take away any sin we repent of. Any, as in, you know, any.
Elder J. Devn Cornish talked about this very thing at General Conference. He reassures us in, “Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?”
Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.
If we will sincerely repent, God really will forgive us, even when we have committed the same sin over and over again. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made … , I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”
What a beautiful thing to consider. Our Father wants to help me overcome my inner two-year old way of shutting Him out. He reaches out and gently pulls me in. If I can just stop long enough to listen and feel His love. It just takes a minute, but sometimes it’s really hard to remember to do. That is my challenge for myself today – to remember to pause and feel Him there.