This past Sunday, I heard a wonderful sermon on the parable of the prodigal son and thirty-second Psalm. This prayer is a result of reflections thereafter:
I wear so many hats: husband, brother, son, and uncle(!). Most days I am an employee, a coworker, a colleague and a subordinate. Some know me as a reader or a blogger, a runner and a skier, a crazy person who enjoys winter, a lover of pastries, a laugher and a crier. These are the roles by which I identify myself in relation to others. And I tend to do the same with you.
I will not tell you I am a sinner God, for this you already know. But I will tell you my confession: I am sorry for my stubbornness and pride, particularly within my marriage. I am sorry for my obsession and idolization: books and writing have the thrown of my heart, as do skiing and whatever dose of fame or reputation I could possibly procure.
I am sorry for my gossip. (I think I need the most forgiveness here.) For I would rather talk about someone than with them. The latter takes social courage, which I readily shun.
In saying these things God I know that I do not earn your forgiveness but rather I accept my identity as one who has been forgiven; I realize that my condition before you is that of the prodigal son who has squandered your grace on tiny pleasures and vices. I manage to hide these indulgences from others, but never from you.
Of all the identities I claim, make this my first and foremost: that I am a sinner who has been forgiven.
For which I thank you.
Okay God, let’s be honest. I’m pretty damn self-righteous. (I don’t use that word lightly, just as you never shied away from condemning the Pharisees.)
When I think of others, I do not think of them as you do. Rather, I measure them against myself: are they as smart as I? athletic? attractive? gifted? and- ironically- humble? And not just with good traits goes the other way too: are they hurting like I am? do they have my scars, my fears, my insecurities? do they doubt their faith, doubt themselves, doubt you, as much as I? or am I the only one with these kinds of unending thoughts racing, running bouncing and smashing against the inside of my psyche? My insecurity dominates my ability to see your children as anything other than competition for your approval.
I think of others, dear God, because I do not want to be alone- which is not bad- but I wish to be with other people just so long as I am above them.
I ask that you save me from the siren’s call of mirrors, report cards, earning statements, 5k results, blog views, ‘like’ notifications and looks of admiration from others. Save me from the condemnation of insecurity, the anxiety of gaining others’ approval, the facade of humility that masks deep disbelief in the power of your gospel.
When I think of others, help me to think of them as sisters and brothers:to think of the least of these (literally & metaphorically) as higher than me. When I think of myself, create in me a humble heart that thinks only of myself as one who needs and receives grace. Apart from this- please, God, please– aid me in training myself instead to think of you.