God, please let my kids know you. Like, really know you.

It’s what I pray every night before drifting off to sleep.

But I wonder how that will happen when I’m so far from perfect and question how well I actually know God.

I’ve always been a Christian. Growing up I went to church every Sunday and certainly knew about God. But I don’t think I really knew him.

Sort of like that really popular girl in school. I knew who she was. I mean, didn’t everybody? But I didn’t really know her.

Everyone was always talking about her. Rumors about who she was drifted through the halls and into the classroom before being carried home and discussed over the phone or into the wee hours of a sleepless sleepover.

But I never really talked to her myself. I never spent time with her. I didn’t know whether or not the rumors were true because I never searched for the truth. But I did know my place, and it was far beneath hers. She held a certain power I would never have. She seemed able to control people with both her beauty and ability to carve out a path of destruction if she pleased.

And that’s about what I knew of God.

That He was powerful. That He was mysterious. That He was in control. That He was high and I was low, creating a distance between us. That I’d never meet His standards. That He was capable of matchless beauty as well as unthinkable destruction. 

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People seemed to always be talking about Him, but talking to him was a different story. Sure, I prayed for safety and maybe for a specific Christmas present or test grade. And there were those repetitious prayers around the dinner table or in the church pew. But it didn’t go much further than that. 

Much like that popular girl, I found God intimidating. What I did know of him was that he was scary, unapproachable perhaps. Too important, too perfect to care about someone like me. He was someone I would never be good enough for.

I was connected to a church but disconnected from the One who created it.

All those years of Christianity, and yet I didn’t have what Christians need most—a relationship with the God we worship. Because I had been taught religion over relationship, and while I don’t believe that was intentional, it was the reality of my experience with God and church and all things religious.

Yet somehow, after all these years, something has shifted, and I can say that I do, in fact, have a relationship with Him. At least I think I do. Because so much of the time I wonder if I’m crazy or if I’m imagining things or if what I think He’s trying to tell me is all in my head. 

But then something happens that only God could do, and I know it must be Him, and I know it must be real and that He really must’ve spoken. Which makes me seek and notice and talk to and trust him more. And it becomes so obvious that He’s working. That He sees me. That somehow I matter.

It’s taken so long, but now I know—a relationship with God is real. And it’s more than just church and the common table prayer.

Still, I worry. Because I fail so often. Sometimes I go days without mentioning God or Jesus or forgiveness or salvation to my kids. So many days my prayers are half-hearted because my head hurts and my heart is weary. And sometimes the 24-hour prayer cycle within my head never translates to actual words that are audible to my children because the noise level when children are around can be deafening, and I can’t bring myself to add to it. So often, I fail to show them Jesus because I’m angry or short-tempered or disengaged due to my humanness and the limits that go along with it.

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And so often, I question. Where other people seem so sure about God, I still have doubts. I know God is real, but I still question the relationship piece, even though I feel it.

How will my kids know God when I so often fail to bring him to their attention, I wonder. How will they know him when I still question how well I know him? 

But as with everything else, it’s God’s grace that will have to unlock their relationship with Him. Because my failures and doubts are great—but so is His power, His love, His grace.

Because it’s by grace that after all these years I can say (mostly) without a doubt that I have a relationship with Him and actually know what that means. I might always have doubts, but I’ve never known God like I do right now.

And if I can say that despite the inadequacies of the circumstances I grew up in, then certainly it’s not too much to imagine that my children might say the same thing despite the inadequacies of the mother they’re growing up with.

Because God works in inadequacy.

Unlike that popular girl in school, for whatever reason, God handpicks for Himself those of us who are lacking. Who are inadequate, weak. He doesn’t look down on us for our imperfections. He invites us to the table and befriends us in ways I’ll never understand. He desires a relationship even though we can’t live up to his standards—and He doesn’t even expect us to!

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And I just pray my kids know this.

God, please let my kids know you. Really know you.

Despite my fears and flaws, I must trust God will answer. Because every time I repeat some version of this prayer, I can’t help but think my mother—who would admit to being far from perfect—prayed some version of the same thing, over and over, all those years ago. 

And while God’s timing may not have matched up with hers, He answered. 

Because here I am. An imperfect, doubting, completely inadequate woman who has a relationship, a real relationship, with God. And I’m praying my kids will be able to say the same.

Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. When she's not typing words, she can be found wrangling a fiery little boy and nurturing a quickly growing girl. She's a tea-addicted, jewelry-loving, cat-obsessed, Jesus-following, introverted midwestern girl who is thrilled to connect with you from the other side of the screen. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.