Can I be candid with you? Let’s face it. Those are words we’d prefer to run away from, because candor usually means we’re going to hear a person’s unfiltered opinion… very possibly about something we’ve done. On the other hand, if you hear those words from your best friend, you’re apt to lean in. Friends – best friends – thrive on honesty, even when it’s awkward.
Yesterday, our small group had an amazing, in-depth discussion on what it means to be “candid” with God. As Dr. Kalas explains in Chapter 2 of Longing to Pray, he chose the words candor and candid quite deliberately. “I might have used the word honest, but I have a specific image in mind.” The image is similar to an unbecoming candid snapshot of ourselves where we think, “I don’t look like that!” when apparently we did at that moment! Sometimes being candid with friends means revealing emotions we wish we could take back later.
Dr. Kalas calls these “just now” moments. Moments when we’re at the height of our anger, or disappointment, or mourning. Moments when we speak openly from a place of deep pain. Later, we may realize we didn’t really mean everything we said. But “just now,” in the midst of our lamenting, we say what we feel.
This is how the psalmists approach God. They say things that seem to border on blasphemy to us. In Psalm 44, the Sons of Korah accuse God of making them “like sheep for slaughter… scattered us among the nations. You [God] have sold your people for a trifle.”
Wow! Now that’s candor. It’s also an example of what it sounds like to give voice to pain. The psalmists tell us that God can handle our cries in those “just now” moments when we’re questioning his love and doubting his presence. As Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadriplegic as the result of a swimming accident) said to a reporter’s question, “Sure, I still get angry [at God]…. sure, I’m angry…. I just think it’s better to get angry at God, than to walk away from Him.” As Dr. Kalas says, “This is the wisdom of candor.”
Those remarkable persons who left us the prayers that make up the book of Psalms believed in God so much that they dared to tell God exactly how they felt, even when their feelings were irreverent, doubting, and accusing…. Beneath the anger was a loving trust that was certain the friendship could stand the kind of ugly stress that expresses itself in nasty words. (Longing to Pray, p 24)
Don’t avoid God because your words aren’t all roses and sunshine. Our friendship with him is strong enough to handle our “just now” moments. As the psalmist writes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). God knows our pain. Don’t be afraid to speak your feelings, or to ask for strength and peace. You might even find a psalm that does both.
God bless you!