I scaled my hill, a regular place I often visit to pray. From this place I would often pray and watch over our city, and the citizens who lived within her boundaries.
On this particular day things were very different.
My spirit was agitated, extremely agitated. My heart was not weighed down with matters of my city – instead a much deeper burden shouted in the corridors of my heart and mind.
I needed to ventilate, and the volcano that was brewing within was about to explode… toward the Almighty.
I paced back and forth on that hill wondering how to address God with this fire burning inside, until finally I could hold it no more and I shouted, “GOD I’M SO ANGRY WITH HER!”
That’s our daughter. The oldest of our two girls. Memories of this beautiful young girl flooded my mind. This young girl whose gorgeous curly locks earned her the nickname ‘Scally Wag’.
This vibrant, colourful ball of energy who would light up the room when she entered, as a loud extrovert who was always heard before she was seen. This was ‘Her’, our beautiful little girl.
Although she wasn’t so young anymore, she was now 15 – and at that moment I couldn’t see the beauty either!
She was exercising her sovereignty (her God-given freedom to choose) and she was exercising it in all its fullness.
Those with teenagers and those who have had teenagers are either nodding their heads or smiling right now, with empathy. (Perhaps even laughing.)
I found myself falling for the illusion that I needed to control her behaviour. I was blinded by my own insecurities of what others would think, due to my role in the church.
I was a pastor and my daughter was being a rebel, and she was proving to be good at it too. I felt the shame – boy did I feel the shame – but that’s a story for another time.
I was informed of yet another one of her illegal activities and her elusiveness to the law, and this news sent me back up the hill. With my face toward heaven, I cried out, “GOD I’M SO ANGRY WITH HER!”
At that moment God responded to my cry: “Paul, why are you so angry?”
His response shocked me. I was looking for comfort and counsel from God. Instead, I felt like he was asking what was wrong with me.
So I barked back, “What do you mean, why am I so angry? Can’t you see what she’s doing?”
“But why does it make you angry?” was His calm response.
Both His question and His calm response annoyed me. I was beginning to feel the cause of my agitation shift from my daughter, to heaven.
Wanting to justify my position I yelled, “Because what she’s doing is illegal and it’s going to hurt someone!”
Feeling like I had given a great and obvious response, God replied, “So why does it make you angry?”
Blinded by my anger, I started searching for answers to defend my position and to show the Almighty that it was not me who should be questioned, but rather my daughter.
I replied: “Because what she’s doing is not only illegal, but she will hurt herself, she will hurt someone else, and her mother and I will be dragged into all its implications – and I don’t want that!”
“But Paul – why does it make you angry?”
His question took a different turn. It had a different tone. It didn’t feel like he was questioning me. It felt like he was searching me.
I paused for a long while, pondering God’s question and searching deep within.
Then, as if God had just taken me for a walk within the caverns of my heart, I saw it.
I began to weep as I quietly replied, “Because I’m scared, God”.
“I’m scared for my girl. I’m afraid that her actions will result in long-term consequences for her or someone else.
“I’m fearful of the pain that her mother and I will go through, walking this out with her.
“God, I’m so scared.”
God replied, “Paul, I have not given you a spirit of fear. I’ve given you a spirit of love, power and a sound mind.”
At that moment God caused a seismic shift to happen within me. He gave me a revelation to help me see where I was standing.
During the teenage years of our four older children, I was parenting and praying from a position of fear. Yet God never gave us that spirit. He gave us His spirit of love, of power and a sound mind (2Tim 1:7 NIV), and he called the righteous to live by faith. (Rom 1:17 NIV)
Fear is the opposite of faith.
God helped me to see that my fear manifested itself as anger. It was very challenging to love my daughter throughout that season in her life. All she could see was a disappointed and angry dad. Trying to think straight throughout that season was also difficult, because I was blinded by fear, and at times I felt paralysed, never certain of what to do.
Many times I wanted to apply the discipline that was applied to us as children, but she was past that, and I knew that it would only fuel my daughter’s rebellion – speaking from experience.
I needed God’s help, to change my position as a parent, and He set me free, when I was honest enough to acknowledge the truth of my fear.
I’m so grateful that in His role as our Father, he helped to shift me, so that I could pray in the right Spirit for our children.
I’m so grateful that God paid no attention to my indignant attitude in order to redeem and reposition me, to see the restoration of this broken relationship.
This encounter on that hill didn’t fix everything with my daughter. There was certainly more searching that needed to be done within.
There was also another great shift that would take place in the near future. As I mentioned earlier, the shame that covered me because I was blaming her behaviour was fuelled by my insecurities with my role in the church.
My daughter’s behaviour was public and there was no hiding it.
The words of Paul to Timothy regarding an elder’s inability to lead his family – “Then how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1Tim 3:5 NKJ) – only gave weight to this shame.
But one day, as I was praying, the Lord spoke to me…
Unfortunately, you will have to wait another six weeks to hear about what He said and the next major shift that was about to take place.
Until then, if this story has given you hope, then I pray that you will allow Jesus to walk you through the caverns of your heart to truly set you free.
Happy Valley Road