Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I've been forced to confront some misconceptions I have about God in the last couple of days. When I was a teenager, I really did put my parents through hell. I've apologized a lot to them, but no amount of repentance could ever be enough to repair the damage that I did to our relationship. I am blessed to have amazing parents who have forgiven me and love me unconditionally, kind of like what I have from the Lord. Recent events have been making me remember just what things were like nineteen years ago, and a voice inside of my head keeps whispering "You've got it coming. What goes around comes around. It's your turn to suffer." And part of me agrees with the voice; I do deserve some payback, but I have to remind myself that God doesn't work like that. Psalm 130: 3-4 say: If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I am so thankful for the knowledge that I am forgiven, and I will never actually receive what I deserve. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering this.

I've held other misconceptions about God in my life. I used to be afraid to talk about something good for fear of jinxing it. For example, if I was doing well in a class and thought I may get an A, I wouldn't tell anyone so that God wouldn't hear me and throw a test or paper at me that I would end up bombing. It's like the unspoken no-hitter rule in baseball. If it looks as though a pitcher will have a no hitter, the announcers don't say anything about it so they don't jinx his chances. Matthew 7:11 debunks that theory: So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Another belief I used to hold was that God was just waiting to trip me up with my prayers. When I would pray, I was afraid that if I didn't specify exactly what I wanted, He might give me a twisted version of it. Think of the famous short story The Monkey's Paw or like a genie in Arabian Nights. If I prayed for Doogie to be happy as he grew up, I would also throw in clauses about being healthy and safe to try and cover every circumstance. Eventually every prayer became so much work trying to think out every possible outcome, that I stopped praying entirely.
Matthew 6:8 says your Father knows what you need before you ask him so there's no need for me to worry about wording things just right. And when I can't even come up with the words Romans 8:26 says In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

I know that there are a lot of other mixed up ideas out there about who God is and how He treats us. This is one of the reasons I've fallen in love with the Bible. The character and identity of God is clearly spelled out within its pages for anyone who cares to look for Him, and He promises that those who seek, will find.

Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Acts 17:27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Obviously when I was praying years ago with such confusion I wasn't really seeking God. I wanted Him on my terms rather than looking for Him where I knew I would find Him. Once I did start looking, He came to me and washed me clean of my sins, even those that are back to haunt me now. But now I know that I can Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7. The key part of that verse for me is "he cares for you." In all of my previous beliefs, I had a hard time truly believing the God cared for me, loved me. Reading the Bible has removed those fears. If you are harboring some beliefs about God that don't seem right, start reading it yourself and revel in the truth that you will find there.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt is the second book in the Miracle Girls series. This volume focuses on Christine Lee, the rebel of the group with her thrift store wardrobe and nose ring. Christine is angry with her father for getting engaged just a year after her mother's tragic death in a car accident, so she's taking it out on stepmother-to-be Candace. She's struggling to deal with her mother's death along with the possible break-up of the Miracle Girls as each has boy issues and long-dead rivalries spring up again between them. When Christine hits bottom, she thinks that she has no one left to turn to, not the Girls, her father, or even the God she swears she doesn't believe in. I like this YA series. Each girl has a different personality and interests, allowing just about every teenage girl to find a character to relate to. I've watched my own daughter and her friends drift apart and come back together as boys come and go, and the authors portray that confused loyalty well. Christine's longing for a place to belong is the crux of this story, and author do a terrific job of keeping the other storylines tied to it. Her questions about God are ones that I think a lot of teens face, and they are answered well at the end of the book. Definitely a book I'd recommend to teen girls (and tell their moms to sneak a read when the girls are finished).

Today Mia is a Pokemon trainer, but on Friday she was a princess. That's when I took today's pic.