Welcome to the fifth post in my series, where we explore trusting God.
I write as one who regularly prays, "I believe God, help my unbelief."
I write as one who has seen how trusting God affects how I live and how well I love others.
For some of us, trusting God addresses the heart of our most painful relationships.
Before I share what Brennan Manning wrote, I don't believe he is blaming his parents as much as he explains how their actions affected him as a young boy then as an adult. Later in his book, Ruthless Trust, he talks about how as an adult, God redeemed his relationship with his parents.
Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: JOPHIELsmiles
"The biggest obstacle on my journey of trust has been an oppressive sense of insecurity, inadequacy, inferiority, and low self-esteem.
I have no memory of being held, hugged, or kissed by my mother as a little boy. I was called a nuisance and an pest and told to shut up and be still...when I was a child, he [my father] was never there." - Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 13
In his book, Manning also shared a traumatic childhood incident with his father which occurred when he was six that "haunted him for years." But in his father's later years, his father "became the kindest, gentlest man" Manning had ever known.
As an adult, Manning came to understand because his mom, orphaned at age 3, had received little affection or attention in her early years, she was "incapable of giving it away."
What made Manning's view of his mother change?
As an adult, while praying one morning, he had a vivid image of his "deceased mother at age six in the orphanage, kneeling on the windowsill, her nose pressed against the glass, tears streaming down her face as she begged God to send two nice people who would adopt her."(15)
This image of his mom at age six caused all of Manning's anger and resentment at her to disappear.
Sobbing, Manning "asked her forgiveness," which his mom granted. As his mom hugged and kissed him, Manning said "the greatest enemy of trust in my life was disarmed."(15)
I don't know how long Manning struggled with his feelings toward his mom. But I wager he probably prayed about their relationship over many years.
I don't know what your relationship with your mom or dad was like, but I know our earliest relationships teach us about trust. And they affect how we see God.
Manning's advice on how to grow in trusting God:
"In order to grow in trust, we must allow God to see us and love us precisely as we are. The best way to do that is through prayer. As we pray, the unrestricted love of God gradually transforms us...so that we can discover we are seen by God with a gaze of love."
His advice follows what God promises in 2 Corinth. 3:17-18 because it is in God's Presence, His Spirit, where we discover the freedom to be transformed more into Christ's image.
What does that mean?
When we are honest with God in prayer about what we're struggling with, whether it's bitterness over a broken relationship, or an addiction, it gives us a chance to experience God's love and forgiveness.
There is nothing you can tell God that He doesn't already know. He loved us at our sin-ugliest (Rom. 5:8).
It is God's love that gives us the willingness to do the hard work of forgiveness or some other step toward healing.
Maybe the hard work is to tell someone you need help.
You can trust God with your problem. His solution may not be what you wanted but it will be done out of love and wisdom (Isaiah 55:8-10).
It may take years but slowly our trust in God will grow.
Soul Stops Moment:
What is one step you can take to trust God in prayer today?
What struck you about Brennan Manning's experience?
Is there someone you can ask to pray with you and/or for you?
I would be happy to pray for you if you let me know.
Thanks for being here.
Linking with encouraging friends: Kelli of Unforced Rhythms
And the super-encouraging Holley Gerth