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)
Your “nagging” aside, I don’t think that it is possible to nag God. I agree that sometimes we lapse in the area of faith and trust, but I believe that like in all things that he knows our hearts better than anyone and that he forgives us.
This is rather an aside but when you mentioned the word “praying” it reminded me of a favorite poem of mine by Lal Ded (Lalla), a 14th century mystic from Kashmir. It is:
“At the end of a crazy-moon night
the love of God arose.
I said, “It’s me, Lalla.”
When I first stumbled across this poem, I was in a quandary as to how to pray and specifically, whether I was doing it correctly. I prayed all the time, but I felt that I was doing it wrong and that he wasn’t hearing me. This poem answered my concerns in that it says to me that there is no strict formal way that we must pray to be heard. In my mind, the phrase “It’s me Lalla,” implies both a close relationship in which God knows exactly who we are and an approachable God. For me, prayer is akin to talking to a close, special friend that we trust more than anyone in the world. In the end, we speak to him in a way that allows us to be most open and honest.
I am sorry for taking over your comments, but your post brought this up. I see this becoming a blog post. Blessings.
No need to apologize!! Thank you for including that beautiful prayer. I agree that I am not really “nagging” God. It is more illustrative of my heart and mindset vs. anything that God is annoyed with. I like your understanding of prayer. That is what I hope to believe more so in my life.
I did write a post and am about to post it to my blog. I wanted to let you know that in the post, I’ve acknowledged that reading your post brought the issue to mind and that there is a link to your site so that others can read your post for themselves. Blessings to you and your family, Lydia