One Sunday morning when I was in my early 20s, my mom came up to me after church and said something that stuck with me: “I notice you always pray to Jesus. You should think about calling God ‘Father.’” I thanked her for her input but it agitated me a little. I was more comfortable keeping things on a first-name basis with the Lord and starting all of my prayers with “Dear Jesus.” I didn’t like the way it felt to address God as my male parental figure. I already had a father-son relationship and it was complicated.
Ten years ago this month, I started the day by getting on my face before God and saying, “Lord, I’m getting down on the floor because if I get up, I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid.” I had good reason to be concerned.
One time I was at the bus stop and I saw a woman take her daughter by the ponytail, pull up, and force her to move down the sidewalk. As the girl walked forward, she tried to reach up and pull her mother’s hand away, to no avail. As the little girl cried and begged her mother to stop, a man standing nearby laughed about it, and the mother began laughing, too.
I was five years old when I walked into my mother’s bedroom and told her I wanted to give my life to Christ. We got down on our knees beside the bed and I asked Jesus into my heart. After that, I proudly told everyone that Jesus had saved me, but my pride slowly diminished over the years.
Seven years ago, I was having a conversation at a birthday party when I suddenly felt like I was in a dream. My voice felt far off, the room looked two-dimensional, and I couldn’t get my eyes to focus. Fifteen seconds later it stopped, but that episode was only the beginning. I started having a variety of other bizarre experiences. Sometimes it seemed like I was watching a scratched DVD — other times I would lose my words mid-sentence or forget how to type.
The other day my seven-year-old daughter said something I wasn’t expecting: “Daddy, I know a bad word.” Oh no, I thought, my worst fears about the D.C. school system are already coming true. “Oh really?” I said casually. “What word did you learn?” “The S-word.” I cringed.
There are a lot of people out there who are waiting for Big Things and they can’t seem to get a breakthrough. I got the chance to hear from some of those people this week when I shared an essay at Boundless called “So Grateful God Made Me Wait.” Many responded, some whose hearts are aching as they wait, others who are grateful the wait is over.
Last year, God finally answered yes to my years-long prayer request for the “Big Thing.” It doesn’t really matter what the Big Thing was. Maybe it was healing, a financial breakthrough, a reconciled relationship, a job or some other change in circumstance. Whatever it was, my waiting experience was like that of so many other people: a constant fight with the lingering fear that God was punishing me for wanting it too badly.
I’ve always enjoyed the holidays, but as I got older, I began to realize how painful this time of year is for so many. There are so many dashed expectations, so many hurts that we all hide behind the sometimes-fake smiles we force while singing Christmas songs or attending the office party.
I went through a long, dark time a few years ago. I prayed that God would end it, that He would set me free from the people and circumstances that vexed me. He did not.
A lot of people struggle with knowing the exact moment they got saved. It seems impossible to figure it out. I wrestled with that for a long time until I found the answer in Scripture. He’s a Facebook video where I talk about that …
I’ve recently experienced a breakthrough with a years-long relationship with fear. The topic pricks a lot of people’s hearts because so many of us live with it, and we don’t even realize it. It’s important to identify it and acknowledge it if we’re going to get free from it. This is my story of how God has been helping me do that. I shared it in this video on my Facebook page:
“Color with me, Daddy,” my oldest daughter said. “I prefer to draw a picture, but I don’t what to draw,” I said.
I was a sophomore in college when I began receiving a series of harassing emails from an unidentified person. Each one was loaded with expletives and insults that cut into my stomach like rusty razors, leaving me with a cold, sick feeling. The worst part was that it was clear that I somehow knew the person, who I assumed was male based on the tone of the emails.
Three years ago, my family was on vacation and I was in a gas station standing next to my two-year-old daughter. Out of nowhere, a dirty old guy with a long, white beard turned around and looked at her. “You’re a pretty little girl,” he said, and then he reached down and tried to give her some change.