The other day I must have forgotten that I have three little kids, and I was trying to take a peaceful and relaxing shower. I was diligently trying to follow the directions on the shampoo bottle, and I did not want to make a mistake: Wet hair. Lather. Rinse. Honestly, how would we ever survive without that handy manual? If I ever become bored, maybe I will let caution fly to the wind and shampoo without the instructions. Or maybe lather first. The thought of living on the edge like that makes my scalp tingle.
Halfway through the shampoo round, I was interrupted by earsplitting shrieks. In retrospect, I should have been concerned, but by now I have almost grown numb to these familiar sounds. I finished washing my hair and considered applying the conditioner, when I noticed that the crying decibels were increasing in intensity. Since my kids have a skill set in crying that would strengthen any résumé, I usually hesitate before reacting. Also, I am a creature of habit, and the thought of skipping the conditioner round nearly gave me a panic attack. I suddenly had visions of myself looking like an electrocuted long-haired rabbit.
Curiosity got the better of me, and after quickly getting ready I opened the door to my three year old Nate, who was sobbing inconsolably. “I got hurt!” he screamed, although a stranger never would have understood his words through the bawling. A mother can translate her own child’s words if he had a mouth full of marbles, which let’s face it, could actually happen with a toddler. It’s kind of like those moments in Lassie, when the owners just instinctually knew what the dog was trying to tell them. What is it, girl? Susie fell down the well? Good job! Take us to her! A child might say, “asldvn kerlkerk ugaelr kejrelrj,” and the mother would say with confidence, “He wants his blanket.”
Every parent is familiar with that sickening heart-sinking-to-stomach feeling when there is something wrong with their child. In the middle of his forehead, Nate had a black and blue bump roughly the size of Scandinavia, and it had split open like the San Andreas fault line. Through his tears, he managed to explain to me that he had run into a doorknob. He is now at that inevitable height where his head lines up in perfect sync with doorknobs and sharp table corners. Sinking into my arms, he seemed so relieved that I understood what was wrong without proper communication.
Even though words come easily to me, there have been moments in my life when I have become frozen before God. When no words would suffice. The times when Father, please…, are all that can pass through my lips. Through all of our trials and tribulations, we can cry out to God, even without using words. As a Father, He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). God is often worshipped as a distant creator, but He offers Himself as a close and intimate parent. We can only pour our hearts out to Him if we are willing to give Him our hearts.
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise,
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
These are words too often neglected in prayer – the acknowledgment that God, you have searched, you know, you perceive, you discern, you are familiar. It seems impossible, yet I understand from my own experience as a parent. When you truly love someone, words are often the statement of what’s already known. Like the instructions on a shampoo bottle. The next time you bump your head on the doorknob of life, just remember that there is Someone waiting with open arms to comfort you. And don’t worry if the words won’t come; He already knows.