Last week when I was praying I had an awful thought. I was going to be attending a funeral so I prayed God would help me look like Christ to my family and anyone else I’d encounter that afternoon. What a noble and inspired request.
That’s when the horrible thought happened: rather than ask God to help me look like Christ, why not pray for opportunities to act and speak in front of those friends and family in a way that would shine Christ’s light?
Insert barf emoji.
As I often do when I don’t like what God says to me, I ignored the thought. It was too convicting, too frightening and required me to do more than I was comfortable doing (most people already think I’m weird and too “religious.” The thought of asking God to give me a chance to prove that was not appealing).
This week however, I couldn’t get rid of that horrible thought. What would it look like if instead of asking God to help me be a nicer wife I’d ask for opportunities today to treat Chris with love instead of sarcasm, patience instead of eye-rolls and joy instead of my often apathetic, expressionless and irritated responses? How would my long-time prayer to be a gentler mom look differently if I prayed for opportunities today to act calmly instead of angrily when one of my teenagers inevitably ignores, overlooks or is irritated by a request I give them?
What if instead of praying for humility, I asked for opportunities today to be okay being wrong and to fail to defend myself? Oh, my stomach…
The problem with praying for “opportunities today” is it moves the burden from God changing me with magical fairy dust, a painless lobotomy while I’m asleep or other instantaneous methods onto me practicing, little by little today, who and what I want to look like. The problem with praying for opportunities to look more like Christ is it requires me to cooperate with God’s answers to those prayers. The problem with praying for opportunities to do what I want God to do for me, is it is harder, scarier and I must be intentional.
An area I struggle with daily is judgment. I love a lot of people in Jesus’ name, but I don’t usually like them very much. When I had to be with someone I don’t like this week, I decided to pray the horrible thought. Instead of asking God to help me like them I simply asked, as I was driving to be with them, that He would give me opportunities to see the good in them. He provided those opportunities and in that humbling moment I realized the more I pray for opportunities to look like Christ, little by little, the more I like the person I see looking back at me in the mirror.