Saturday, May 14, 2011


My parents are both extraordinarily-intelligent, college-educated, retired professionals. Both have substantial amounts of white hair, testimony to their 70+ years of living. They have parented and grand-parented a zoo of children.

Me, I'm pushing 50 and I wear the solidity of middle-age. I've given birth to, raised, and educated seven children. I, too, boast an abundance of white hair.

And, I'm from the South.

That means that - even considering all their wisdom, their years of experience, their respectability, their professional accomplishments - I call my parents Momma and Daddy. When my parents have both moved on to Glory, and I'm a dottering 95-year-old (should I live that long), I will still refer to them as Momma and Daddy. It's not a matter of failing to appreciate or respect these two remarkable people. It's a matter of affection, security, and comfort.

Mother. Father. Growing up, I always thought those words sounded so stiff and formal. Like a strained relationship. A tense dialogue. A line in the sand, painfully restricting and defining the terms of intimacy and affection.

But that has changed.

I realize that everyone prays differently. How do you begin your prayers? "Dear Jesus,....." "Almighty God in Heaven,...." "Heavenly Father,...." Do you have a familiar phrase, a greeting, an introduction, a way to mark the beginning of your prayer? Me, I most often pray to God the Father. I frequently pray to Jesus, too. And sometimes, I even find myself bouncing around in my prayers between all three persons of the Trinity, like we're having some extended family conference.

But no matter whom I end up addressing, I begin my prayers, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, with one simple word: Father.

And here lately, I've found that I often don't make it much past that. "Father."

These past several months have been, well, intensely sanctifying. At least, that's what I'm hoping - it would be sad indeed if recent trials, griefs, and struggles were wasted on any lesser purpose than conforming me to the image of my beautiful Elder Brother! (Thankfully, Scripture assures me that, in God's economy, nothing - no suffering, no pain, no heartbreak - nothing is wasted. It is all precious, redeemed for God's glory and for my good.)

Oddly, I have found that in these dark and difficult places, my prayers have changed. Early on, I spent much time weeping out my pain, or pleading for relief or rest or peace. Or asking for eyes to see God's purposes in my trials. Or begging grace to persevere. Or asking for wisdom to know how to move to a better place.

Now, I find I am very likely to get snagged at that very first word. "Father,..." Who is this Father to whom I pray? My needs and concerns are set aside while I try in vain to wrap my brain around the person of God the Father. His majesty, sovereignty, goodness, justice, mercy....I feel like I am mentally wading into an ocean vaster than space. Scripture verses and lines from hymns come to mind, proclaiming over and over the unfathomable greatness of God. And I call this holy, transcendent One, Father?

Father. One word communicates a filial relationship so secure that it cannot be shaken. And, as I consider anew the love and the tender mercies of this Father toward me, His child, "Father" no longer sounds stiff and formal and strained, but warm and safe and welcoming. When I contemplate the truth that He delights in me, that He has brought me into His presence and into His family because it pleases Him to do so, because it brings Him joy...I am overwhelmed.

Why was I coming to the Lord in prayer just now? What burdens, what struggles, what griefs did I bring to lay at His feet? What rest, what comfort, what hope did I seek? All that jostles my mind and any tumult in my heart is quieted...all my prayers are one word of tremendous comfort...



Suzanne said...

Very beautiful.

Suzanne said...

Yesterday I got to visit both, Father and Daddy. Daddy joined us for Mass because Annie was receiving her First Holy Communion. Great day.