Nagging an Inattentive God

According to this Huffington Post article, nagging is one of the top reasons people divorce. (Incidentally, I’m obsessed with the HuffPo Divorce section. I find that sometimes, you don’t know what works until you see what’s broken.) I can tell you absolutely that if nagging is the main reason, I’m screwed because goodness knows I would never try to change my behavior. Everyone knows that Hapa Papa is the reasonable one in the relationship.

The main reason I nag Hapa Papa (other than, apparently, my being female – sexism alert!) is because I don’t feel heard. Hapa Papa has a bad habit of rarely acknowledging things I say to him. Of course, he claims that my heavy onslaught of orders/mandates/”conversation” makes it near impossible to acknowledge them all. I just say he’s a quitter.

So, I keep nagging Hapa Papa until he acknowledges me in some way (usually with annoyance). And then I nag him until he actually does what I want. (Two separate actions.)

Hapa Papa is not the only one in the family to bear the brunt of my constant nagging. So are my children. I constantly harp on Cookie Monster and Gamera to sit down properly in their chairs, (Cookie Monster falls out of his chair AT LEAST once a day. Like, seriously? No learning from experience, that child.) eat their food, pick up after themselves, put away their toys, hurry up, etc. The other day, Cookie Monster told me to stop talking and go away because he couldn’t stand hearing me tell him to sit down in his chair anymore. Then, he promptly fell out of his chair. Again. (I felt smug and vindicated; I am a small and petty person.)

Lately, I made the connection that my kids whine in due part because I nag. (Ok, I didn’t make the connection on my own. It was spelled out in this Parents article. More on this article in a future post.) My kids whine because they are afraid that they aren’t heard or acknowledged. So, they keep asking for the same thing over and over again, with greater and greater urgency. I really hate that they are learning my bad habits. I am hoping that if I stop nagging, they will stop whining. I think I made it fifteen minutes.

Anyhow, the other night, I was praying for my kids and I found myself repeating the same plea to God over and over again. “Please keep my children safe. Keep my children safe. Keep my kids safe. Watch over them and keep them safe from harm.” Sometimes, I varied it up and said the same thing but in different words. Or in a different order. And then I stopped.

Did I think that God didn’t hear me the first time? Or that God might have missed part of what I was saying? Or that God was stupid and required me to explain things repeatedly and slowly, as if God were a foreigner who couldn’t understand English?

When I thought about it, God doesn’t really need me to pray for Him to know what I want or need. And certainly not on repeat. Presumably, being omniscient and all, that’s stuff God would already know. After all, prayer is for the supplicant, to get to the root of their heart’s desire. So what did that mean when I kept praying the same thing over and over again, as if I were stuck in a loop?

And then it hit me. Some part of me thinks God isn’t listening. Or that if God is listening, that He doesn’t care. Therefore, the only way to get and maintain God’s attention is to whine and plead and cajole and just wear Him down until He’s like, “STFU! Here’s the stupid thing you wanted. Now, please STOP with the praying!”

If I were God, I’d have punched me in the throat. I’d be totally offended. And super annoyed. (I suppose who’s to say that God is not offended or annoyed? *slowly looks up and backs away*)

So I decided I’m going to try a new thing. I am only going to pray ONCE for something per prayer time. It’s really hard. It’s as if I am trying to fill up the airtime with God so that I don’t have to hear anything He has to say to me about my life or my desires.

It is hard to trust that God takes me seriously and wants me to have good things. It is hard to remember that God is the original Prodigal Father. That my love and desires for my children pale in comparison to how God feels about me. I find it incredulous.

Then, I find that the only prayer available to me is a short but apt one: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 ESV)

Why I No Longer Read Celebrity Gossip

As much as it is possible, I try to avoid celebrity gossip in my daily life. Which, if you’ve ever tried to do, is getting increasingly difficult. I’ll be driving along, listening to the radio or a morning show and then, BOOM! Some stupid story about some minor celebrity is teased before I have a chance to change the station.

Or, I’ll be minding my own business, trying to read the news and BLAM, a headline about some celebrity interferes and I am tempted to click and find out just what did so and so do to piss off so and so. Or even worse! I read the headline and now, I will forever know that Kimye had a kid and named her North. This will now prevent some vital information that I will need during the pending zombie apocalypse from adequately anchoring in my brain. Thanks, Huffington Post, for your hard hitting news.

This is not to criticize you if you happen to enjoy celebrity gossip. I mean, it is interesting. That’s why there is a $3 billion dollar industry built around stalking people and their poor children. Hapa Papa reads The Superficial at least once a week (he says because it’s funny, but I think he just wants to see pictures of hot women) and says he can’t help but know about celebrities because his Yahoo! homepage shows him a TON of celebrity stories. Celebrity news is practically ubiquitous, so I totally understand if a person gives in and reads it.

Besides, this post isn’t to lambaste you if you happen to read celebrity gossip. It’s about why I stopped reading it.

A few years ago, I used to read Perez Hilton and The Superficial everyday. I would read The National Enquirer, look forward to going places with lobbies so I could read their free issues of People or Us Weekly or whatever. (I refused to actually pay money for these things.) In fact, I would often refresh the gossip sites 10-15 times a day (more than I did my Facebook!). It got so bad that I decided to give up celebrity gossip for Lent. But after Lent, I immediately went back to my old ways and read ALL the back issues (starting immediately with Ash Wednesday and didn’t stop until I was all caught up through Easter). Kinda ruined the whole point of Lent, no?

One day, though, I realized that I knew more about celebrity lives than my own friends who I actually knew. And really, celebrities are more like fictional people instead of real people because half of the stuff we read is likely fabricated anyway – and no way a true reflection of their actual lives. But it was a startling and depressing revelation. How could I possibly know more about people I didn’t know, didn’t have a chance of knowing, and probably wouldn’t care for if I did know them, than my own friends? Why was I spending so much of my time and energy learning about their likes, dislikes, activities, children’s names, etc. and not spending my time on pursuits that really mattered to me?

Once I realized this, I went cold turkey. I haven’t regretted a minute of it since.

Now, this doesn’t meant that I don’t occasionally give in and click on slideshows of celebrities without makeup or see pretty pictures of Oscar dresses, but for the most part, I avoid celebrity news. (That’s why when I do see these pictures, I don’t know over half of these “actresses.”) My life has been all the better for it.

Plus, this frees up much needed time to waste on truly important things such as stalking my “real” friends and refreshing Facebook a billion times a day. I know how to live, people. Don’t be jealous.