I was reminded the other day of a story someone told of being on retreat. He had gone on the retreat almost out of desperation because everything about his life seemed distasteful. Much in his life seemed to actually be going well, but God didn’t seem to be there, and it was driving him crazy as it bled into everything else. And so there he was on retreat, trying to find God again.
The retreat, however, wasn’t helping. It might even have seemed to be making things worse. Now God wasn’t there, but he couldn’t avoid the fact that God wasn’t there.
As the days went by, and things seemed to be getting worse and his frustration grew, the retreat director asked him, “What do you really want to say to God?” Exasperated beyond politeness, he blurted, “I really want to tell Him to **** off!”
“And there you go,” said the director. “There’s your holy word.”
It became something of a key, this ‘holy word’, because as he used it, things unlocked. God reappeared, though perhaps not in the ways he wanted or expected, and communication was restored, though a different communication than he had planned on. Suddenly there was relationship again, just a very different relationship than before.
Cursing blue streak probably isn’t the greatest way to pray most of the time. Yet for this man on retreat, there was a very direct honesty about it. He wasn’t saying the things he was supposed to say and not saying the things he wasn’t supposed to say. His heart not just poured, but gushed out, and it wasn’t pretty.
But it was real.
Real relationship comes when we’re real, whether or not it’s what we’re “supposed” to be or be like. The not-pretty was only temporary, but it needed to be expressed. It was who he was, and that’s who God wants to relate to.
As I write this, I can’t help but wonder if there are things that I’m not sharing with God for one reason or another, ways I’m not being real. It’s easy to get into a habit of relating to God in a particular way and leave out, intentionally or not, part of yourself or present a fake “me” to God.
God loves the real you (and me). That’s what He’s looking for relationship with.