July 31, 2013


I could see the process drop through the toggled channels of his brain as he turned to me, appropriate doors and forms sliding into place to meet the understood requirements from past experience.

"Mom, could you please maybe get me some Lego sets for my birthday?"

I have to admire the craft that went into this one sentence. We've talked with our kids about asking for what they want instead of hinting. (Much of this, I'm sure, is my stubbornness in not wanting to become someone who jumps when my child says, "Breakfast!") We've talked about passive-aggressive behavior, the way we try to protect ourselves from hurt and rejection while putting the other person in a manipulated, impossible place. We've talked about manipulation not being real relationship but desire to control. We talk a lot in our family, come to think of it...

Not only did my adored son remember this, he also managed to work in direct address (Mom), courtesy (please), slight distancing so I'd know he was prepared for refusal (maybe), and specific request without being too specific so the gift wasn't a foregone conclusion (Lego sets).

I notice all that, and I'm glad to see that some of the 34,592 reminders have made an impression. I knew, just listening to him, that he was trying to hit that bull's-eye of communication, hitting all the requirements to increase his odds of getting what his heart wants. He wanted me to hear him. He tried to contort his heart into the shape most likely to be heard and accepted (and yes, to get what he wants).

This is so often how I ask God for things. It's less a request and more a convoluted voodoo theology of trying to hit the right format so I won't get hurt even if I don't get what I want. I don't remember the last time I just asked for what I want, without explanations and caveats. I wish we had a bigger house. I wish the yard was bigger. I wish I had more time for X. I wish we had the money to do Y. The requests are there, but they're followed by watery phrases like, but help me to be thankful for what I have or but I want what you want or but only if it's your will. None of these is bad, by the way. They're heart attitudes I want to have. But I believe God knows that without my saying anything. -I believe he knows my heart's desires better than I do, too! When I ask for them, it's not so he'll know what they are, but so I will. If I surround my asking with hedges of protection, I'm the one who ends up muddy in understanding what I think I want.

As he twisted and crafted his words to ask an acceptable question, my son has no way of knowing that we already have a Lego set that joins with one he already has. It was purchased months ago. Long before he ever thought to ask me this morning if I might possibly, maybe (please) get him one.

I'm pretty sure God has done the same for me.

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