I ran from God for a while. I was angry at my parents, at God, at other people. That was middle school to early high school. My sophomore year hit and I got to a point where realized the only person I was really angry at was me. I was selfish. I was self focused, and that caused a rift in my relationships. My desire to live a life that modeled helping others began to grow, but there was still a fear that God would punish me for being angry at him.
I would pray in bed at night, and as if some small way to appease a wrathful Creator, I would go through this small little saying of “goodnight, good morning, good afternoon God.” Trying to win His favor with some humor. If He is omnipresent, then I would need to say all three of those greetings, right? Unfortunately, this fear of His wrath was always with me. I could never just be me in a prayer or conversation with Him. I had to put on some kind of show, character or act in a way as to not make Him more mad.
Screwed up, I know, but it was what it was. As I began to grow in my faith and knowledge of Him, the more I began to see that there is a raw honesty in the Bible. Even at looking at other historical texts not in the Bible, but pointing to Him, there is an honesty that is stripped of niceties. From Song of Solomon to David almost cursing God at times, there is nothing more raw.
“Praying wasn’t being nice before God….The psalms aren’t pretty, they’re not nice… but it’s honest.”-Eugene Peterson
Bono, the lead singer for U2, and Eugene Peterson, recently got together at Peterson’s home to talk about faith and life. It’s 20 minutes, but this clip is definitely worth watching as these two creative minds who love Jesus are simply being honest. I’m sure I’ll refer more to this video in the future, but there was comment in particular that spoke to me.
Peterson states, “Praying wasn’t being nice before God….The psalms aren’t pretty, they’re not nice… but it’s honest.” There was an honesty, a breaking down of any desire to save face or put up a front. The honesty that David had to question God’s motives and actions. The honesty that David had to dance before his troops out of pure joy. An honesty in the prayers of Jesus pleading with God for another way for man to be saved. An honesty in Moses telling God of how useless he was and how he didn’t want to do what God was asking of him.
As I continue down this road, I am continually reminded how God desires honesty with Him. If he does really know all, well, He kind of knows what we’re thinking already. So, why not be honest with Him? With ourselves? That “hustle” I keep talking about, that fear that motivates us to try and make ourselves look better than others, that drives us to wear so many masks to save face, that hustle keeps us from being honest with ourselves. If we aren’t honest with ourselves, to the depths of even our darkest secrets, then how can we ever expect to experience the depths of God’s love? Love deep enough to cover us and bring peace even to those deep dark places we try to coverup?
The answer is we can’t. The more honest we are with ourselves and with God, the more understanding we have of His love. Some days I wish there was an end, an ultimate point we come to where we can say, “ok, that’s all of His love..we now know the end,” simply so I could know how deep it goes. But, then I’m reminded again of how limitless it is, and how grateful I am for it. The only way to gain greater depth of His love is to be honest. Stop pretending, stop hustling, stop putting up walls, and finally be you.
And enjoy living in your new freedom.