About ten years or so after being baptized, I started a “prayer life.” Now, I’m still not actually very good prayer. But that year for Lent I decided to pray — or at least sit in silence and breath — for at least 10 mins a day and pray, right after dinner. This became a true and beautiful joy for me and the second after that Easter I never went back to it. Such it is to be human.
But one particular moment in those 40 days of 10 minutes of quiet stands out. Because I was pouring out my fear to God, that I wasn’t a good enough. That I didn’t know what I was being “called” to do. What feelings of failure swept over me!
Clear as a bell — very very clear — a Voice that was not my voice said:
“Do not be afraid, take care of your child, and have fun.”
Now you might be thinking that’s a pretty easy message from God. But you have to know that I am afraid of everything except public speaking and needles. Everything. Thunder. Dogs. Driving over bridges. Going outside. Being trapped inside. Everything! It’s never truly stopped me. I have always just sort of set my jaw and done what is needed. But the fear is always with me.
And may I ask, where does “taking care of your child” end? What is healthy limits and what is indulgence? What is creating food issues versus nutrition? What about pollution or this injust world we live in? What is the difference between “keeping your child completely safe” and “give your child roots and wings to fly”?
And fun? don’t even get me started. Fun!? Who has time for fun?! What sort of fun? (I eye the Ferris wheel suspiciously and keep an eye out for bees at the outdoor concerts.) Fun for me is reading. What does God mean “have fun”? How selfish is that, anyway?
I have been living into this message from God everyday since then, sometimes maybe even successfully. Less fear, more love. More time spent together and less teaching. More joy and less perfection.
And I cling to the mercy of grace, that all my failings might be forgiven.