When my son, Cooper, was undergoing cancer treatment, we went on his Make-a-Wish trip to Florida. He wanted to touch a dolphin, and apparently Florida was the place to do it.
But as soon as we landed, we got off the airplane and onto an ambulance. Cooper had a fever, which, at that time, meant an automatic trip to the Emergency Room.
As it turned out, Cooper had a blood infection and was hospitalized.
It was the last straw for me spiritually. After everything we had been through, how could God let this happen?
I was furious. I couldn’t pray. What would I say anyhow? Was He even listening? Was there really even a God, or was everything just random?
Eventually, with some strong encouragement from my husband, I called our priest and confided in him about my struggles.
“Whatever you do, keep praying,” our priest said. No shocker there. But what he said next did surprise me.
“Be honest with God. He already knows how you feel — that you are angry and frustrated. Tell Him that, but be respectful.”
I got off the phone and thought about what he said. The idea of being honest with God sounded appealing so I gave it a try.
Sitting beside my sleeping son in that hospital room in Florida, I prayed, “God, I love you, but I am so mad at you right now. How could you let this happen? Are you even listening to me?”
To my surprise, a peace spread throughout my body as if God was pouring it on me from a pitcher held over my head. I started to calm down, but I kept telling him my thoughts on the whole my-son-has-cancer situation.
And this idea of being honest with God began a whole new phase in our relationship. No longer did I just say what I “should” to Him. I actually said what I thought. What I felt.
That was several years ago, and of course there are times when I forget what I learned in that Florida hospital room. I catch myself trying to “lie” to God (and myself) about how I am feeling. I shove down emotions and frustrations so I can put on the face I “should.”
But the other day I had a very real-world reminder of what it’s like to talk to God. My computer was being worked on, and the person had remote control from his office downtown. You know how it is, they move the mouse and do a bunch of things while you sit there watching in awe.
Then the IT guy started up a chat and asked me questions. I typed my responses, inevitably backspacing and changing the words so that it sounded the way I wanted it to.
I was taking forever as I tried to get it just right, and I wondered if he had the little bubbles telling him I was typing. Maybe he thought I got distracted with something else, and that’s why my response was taking so long. I hoped he didn’t’ know that I just didn’t know what to say or how to say it.
It wasn’t until later that I realized he could see the whole thing. The pauses. The mis-typing. The backspaces. Because he had a full view of my screen.
How silly of me to think I could hide anything!
In a similar way, God has full view of our screen. He knows every thought that crosses our mind. Every backspace we make in our words and emotions as we try to express ourselves to Him in a way that looks good to us.
We forget that He can see it all. There is no need for editing our responses to God. We aren’t telling Him anything new, and somehow that makes the telling easier.