The hardest thing about having been raised by alcoholics is the hyper-vigilence inherent in daily life. It is like having a computer program running 24/7 which drains the computer of speed and memory. Because parenting is not regulated like food and drugs, many people have been raised by people without the emotional intelligence to be good parents. It means we need to work extra hard at being good humans, living good lives, and making good choices and choosing good friends. But what seems to be the hardest for ACOA (Adult Child of Alcoholics) is rest. We do not rest well. We do not take naps. We do not take long baths with the bathsalts seen above. We do not sleep long nights. We tend to work. And when we are not working, we tend to be worried about whether or not we are safe in this world.
Jesus says “come unto me all who are tired and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” I believe Him. And what I believe the most is the ‘come unto me” part. He really seems to mean that if we climb up onto him, we can rest in the lap of a kind of prayer which is releasing, gentle, kind, soft and which emerges out of that time with Him. In other words, what is strangely wonderful about Jesus is that when we join Jesus in prayer – that is – when we simply let all the formality of the church fall away – we can access a gentle, kind heart which seems much more interested in love than in words. I expect there is not much talking between people who are passionately in love and are living that out physically in love-making. Similarly in prayer, when it is not painfully dull (which, I admit, it is often) it can be magical. Prayer can be the bath-salts of the bath which is silent-waiting-on-God. It feels luxurious. It feels too easy. It feels self-indulgent. But I am increasingly convinced that union with God is not as hard as we make it out to be.
What is hard about silence and wordless-prayer is that we need to let go of our intellectual fetish for achievement and our emotionally unintelligent desires to keep on our guard.
God is waiting. God really means it when he says, through Christ, “Come to me …I will give you rest.” and in a society as over-caffeinated and over-scheduled and over-worded as ours is, perhaps we can put down the wine and the sleeping pills, turn off the electronics, light a candle in the early morning darkness, pour some herb tea, and rest with a God who has made the invitation to do so into a physical human – the incarnation of love on legs.
When I get to whatever “eternity” is, I do not want candles and prayer books. I want a very long and welcoming and healing embrace from the man whose life made my welcome to what has long seemed an angry or distant God. Jesus’s attraction to me is not his bloody body. It is his smiling, warm one.