All four of my kids are at camp for three weeks this year. Unlike prior years, my seventeen-year-old daughter Riley serves on the staff this year and therefore has access to her cell phone. She doesn’t text or call often because she is working hard, but one night, she called me in tears. Someone said something extremely unkind to her; she wasn’t sure how to handle it; and she was exhausted – physically and emotionally. We discussed what to do in the immediate situation. She called me back later that same night with an update, and then we hung up so she could get some much-needed rest. I stayed up for a long time afterward though, worried about her, hoping she would bounce back the next day. When she called a couple of days later, she said, “sorry about only calling when something bad happens.” I told her that I wanted to be there for her when she was upset, but that it would be nice to hear about the good things too. She took that message to heart and called to recount another day’s events in a cheerful conversation that lasted an hour.
This experience gave us a good trial run for the future when Riley goes to college in the fall of 2022. I want to act as a sounding board and safe haven for her during tough times. I also want to know when she’s happy and content. I can’t recall whether I struck a good balance with my parents during my early adult years. I called my parents when I was sad or down (on more occasions than I’d like to admit), but I’m not sure I shared as much about the good stuff with them.
I know that I struggle with this same dilemma in my relationship with God. I tell God all about my pain, my suffering, my worries, and my anxieties. I cry and journal and ask, beg, and plead for God’s help. But I don’t always talk to God about the wonderful aspects of my life. I don’t thank or praise God enough. Instead, I rely on the theory that God already knows everything or the concept that “no news is good news.” But that’s not the best way to deepen and grow a relationship, any relationship, even with God.
King David’s relationship with God spanned the triumphant highs and tragic lows of David’s life. David was brutally honest with God in anger, sadness, or peril. He told God when he felt abandoned or scared. But David also shared his joy and gratitude with God. In Psalm 13, David covered the gambit of emotions in only six verses. He began with lament: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:1-2). David expressed his fear that his enemy would overcome him. Then he said, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6). David communicated with God openly and continually, which resulted in a close and intimate connection.
God wants to hear about our hard times and act as our refuge in times of trouble. But I’m convinced that God wants to hear about the positive events in our lives as well. When we take time to focus on good things, in addition to the bad, in our prayers, our hearts will open to God in gratitude and praise. We can be like King David, and in the same conversation express a range of emotions to God. Riley and I will work on this balance to establish a more full and abundant relationship. I’ve decided to try and strengthen my relationship with God by expressing more of the good along with bad. God wants us to share the good, the bad, and everything in between.