Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Well, it’s official: we are a dysfunctional family. One of my kids is taking a college course called “Family Relationships,” and according to a standardized metric this family of origin is wacked out, screwed up, messed over, and unhealthy inside and out.  She stoically notified us of the results yesterday, without fanfare or condemnation. Just the facts if…

I’m not surprised. Our particular brand of life trends toward obsessive compulsive. We’re driven by some invisible urge to succeed leading us to over-commit our budgeted time, energy, and resources. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and our passions wider than our capacity to remain faithful. This breeds tenseness in our household. I have passed along not only my DNA of eye color and a predisposition for a love for ice cream, but my urge overwork and fear rest.

Result: there’s an atmosphere of perfectionism in my family. I’m to blame and my children have caught the bug. We’re a dysfunctional bunch, and we know it.

You might not know this if you came over for dinner. We’re mostly smiles and politeness and we don’t raise our voices often and we do honestly and sincerely trust God for many aspects of our lives. But this unhealthy undercurrent exists and now my kids are now old enough to rightly assign the blame.

So now what? Certainly there are things I can do to help. I’m establishing a day of rest for myself, a time set aside for relationships not work. It’s a hard discipline, but necessary. I’m learning to listen and not “correct” the critiques my children point out to me. Finally, I learning, again to pray.

When my children where small I learned to pray… hard. Then the problems were mostly tangible, geared around the physical demands of parenting toddlers. With teens and young adults under my roof my parenting challenges are elusive. I’m learning again my utter dependence on God’s strength, wisdom, and courage.

I’m praying to God to heal the dysfunctions in our family, specifically those warped parts of my character that have reproduced in my children and in our family dynamics. I’m praying for peace. I’m praying for joy, and rest, and a natural sense of optimism, not at all natural to me. I’m praying for the miraculous capacity to encourage and not to criticize. I’m praying for a true belief that faith in Jesus, not my own works produces the perfection God requires.

In the face of my screwed up family… I’m praying. What else is there?

The up side: I’m beginning to see flickers of hope in my own soul and in my kids… The very fact that the child who delivered the grim news of our dysfunction could smile at me and give me a hug at breakfast this morning is a miracle! That is the hope that prayer brings, the reality of miracles we don’t deserve!

Challenge: Who can the dysfunction in your family bring you to your knees? Are you dissillusioned with your own parenting? If so, GREAT. Illusions need to be “dissed.” How can this lead you to prayer? How can we pray with you? Share it…

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