I have four children. Katelynn is my oldest. She is eleven. Kylee is my second and she is nine. Will is my third and he is six. Zach is my youngest. He is about to turn three. I have a relationship with all four of my kids. But each relationship is very different.

Katelynn and I have a chemistry that is very unique. Katelynn is the know-it-all in the family. Funny thing is . . . she does know-it-all. Very smart girl. And she knows it. She likes to keep up with things that I am doing. We like to keep up on things together. We connect at a certain intellectual level and I attempt to foster that.

She is manipulative. So much so that I don’t think she knows it. I do.

Kylee is tender. She could care less about logic and information. She just likes to hug. Our best times happen when she gets time alone with “daddy.” About a year ago I started a “daddy kidnapping” thing. Kylee was the first. When she came home from school I was hiding behind bush. I jumped out and grabbed her away from the other kids, threw her in the car, and went went to someplace special. That is her life—thinking about the next time she is going to get kidnapped to be alone with daddy. Not too much talking necessary. Just to be with me is enough.

She gets offended very easily, so I have to be careful. But I also have to toughen her up.

Will is different than both the girls. In some ways he is the typical boy. He likes to do “what boys do together.” He mimics me in a lot of ways. Whatever I do, he does. We talk a lot. Well, he talks a lot. Video games, Star Wars, superheroes, and the like. We have a place where we meet in a fantasy world, both being caught up in the action, imagining ourselves as heroes, victors, and men. Because, as he says, “this is what boys love to do, right dada?”

Will likes to throw fits to get what he wants. Those fits have to be handled immediately or they get out of control.

Zach and I are also developing a relationship. He is so young it is hard to see what shape  this will eventually take, but I expect it to be very unique as Zach is alike and very different from the others.

I cherish all of my children. But even more specifically, I cherish the uniqueness of each one of the relationships. If you were to ask me, “Which one is best?” I could not answer. If you were to say, “Which one do you enjoy more?” again, I would be silent. Why? Because I love them all. I would not trade any of them for another. I dwell on the uniqueness of each one. It is the greatest joy of my life. Yet, all of these relationships are so different, I would not be able to label one as more “normal” than the other. They are all just what they are supposed to be.

When it comes to our relationship with the Lord, I think it is the same. I struggle with the Lord often. I am struggling with him here tonight as I write this at 3am. I wonder what our relationship is “supposed” to be. I wonder if he wishes it were different. Or maybe he wishes I were different. I look at others and how they approach the Lord. Sometimes I look in envy. Others I look in contemplation. Still, some others I look at in surprise (and a bit of judgement).

The Lord and I are unique. I love him very much. I think the mood of our relationship is a lot like the one between Will and I. Over the years I have learned to trust him and know he loves me even when events in my life don’t communicate such. He is very unpredictable to me. I never know what is coming. But I have such a deep belief in his sovereignty in all things that whatever comes, I have learned to adjust. So, there are not really too many surprises, in the proper sense, in our relationship.

Our relationship is also very mission based. It is not often like it is with Kylee toward me. I don’t spend a lot of time just “staring” at him or “hugging” him. I do try, but that gets clumsy when I over do it. I am excited about what he has going on and I want to be involved. Therefore, I have a “what is next?” mentality.

I have a bit of a fear of him. I don’t think it is a fear that distances me from him, but one that keeps me from doing or saying things that others might when they are really close to someone. For example, when I get angry with him, my countenance shys away from such expressions in his presence. Rarely I have tried to say something mean or rude to him, but I always back off saying, “Oh, you know I did not mean that.”

I sometimes attempt to manipulate him to get what I want. I don’t throw fits or pout, but I make deals, negotiate, and bargain. I often say to him, “Why don’t you ever give to my manipulations!” (Because he does not!)

In the end, my relationship with the Lord is far from “normal.” There simply is no such thing. Your relationship with him is not normal either. I am not saying that it is all good, no matter who you are or how you approach him. I am simply saying that we often spend our time looking at other people and thinking we are supposed to be more like them. God made us all differently and expects our relationships to be unique. He loves this and does not want it any other way. Some of us are constantly guilt ridden because our relationship with him does not look like someone else’s. Stop it! Appreciate and nurture the difference. God does. As well, stop judging others because their relationship with God does not look or function exactly like yours.

I don’t know what “normal” looks like when it is tagged with the term “relationship.”

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    8 replies to "How to Have a “Normal” Relationship with the Lord"

    • Nick

      I like what was told to me by a counselor once. “Normal is a setting on your dryer.”

    • jim

      Michael, you need sleep!! (3 am) Slip in Rob Bell’s ” Noona video about shea shells , he talks about saying No so You can say Yes.
      Very interesting……. However, don’t give up parchmenet and pen, you are doing amazing work, praise the Lord!!

      I am not Charasmatic in any shape or form, my approach to God is much more one of reverance and respect. I humbly come knowing the sinner that I am……. Waving hands or dancing about isn’t in my relationship with the Lord……..sometimes I will almost tap the pew. I see others come with what looks like “much more joy” and ued to wonder whose approach was best, who is pleasing God the most!!! I have since come to realize what you are conveying in this writing, we have different relationships. Thank you Lord for that !!!!!

      I remember once being asked that if I could rescue only one of my 3 sons from certain death, which one would I pick……and I still can’t answer that question to this day!! I love them all equally…
      for they are unique individuals and I am Dad to all three.

      If one was unsaved that would be my only criteria for chosing….as it stands now, I would have to pass……….knowing what God has in store for us after our journey here is complete.

    • Richard

      I’ll skip the details, but I feel I owe you a big thanks for this timely and well expressed (though 3a.m.-editing-weak 🙂 post.
      Your relationship with the Lord seems very similar to my own. (oooh…maybe two alikes defines “normal” :). I have only one question: You said, “I don’t spend a lot of time just ‘staring’ at him or ‘hugging’ him. I do try, but that gets climbs when I over do it.” What does the word “climbs” mean here? It’s bugging me enough that I’ve even searched for idioms and synonyms for the word on Dictionary.com. I know my question is trivial, but if you have time….Thanks. And thanks, again for the post.

    • Ed Kratz

      Thanks Richard. And thanks for the alert. I don’t know how that word changed, but it was right before. I suppose something happened when the editor got a hold of it. It was supposed to be clumbsy.

      Thanks, also, Leslie.

    • C. Barton

      Thanks so much for talking about relationship with God: John 3:16 says a lot more in deeper ways when I draw closer to Him in our relationship. God is awesome, sometimes scary, can be overwhelming with one word, and He loves me enough to become one of us and suffer, and now He is a Man in Heaven! You can’t get any closer to humanity than becoming one.
      This spiritual intimacy puts trust in a different frame than, “Oh, you just have to trust the Word . . .”, etc. It’s an operational trust when you know Him.
      I like the story of “kidnapping” your daughter – sounds amazingly like what Jesus will do: “churchnapping” us, so we can go have a big party!
      Lastly, I believe that God cherishes uniqueness; He named each star in the heavens, and He has a special name for each one of us. I think mine might be “Bonehead”, but I could be wrong, and I know that my personality or gifts do not make me more lovable to Him – He sees Jesus in me and is reminded of His love for us each time.

    • C Skiles

      C Barton, I think if God has a special name for me it must be “Much Afraid” (think Hannah Hurnand) He is so patient with me. On the outside my family, friends and coworkers see me as even keeled but Jesus knows that I’m up and down like a yoyo, especially when it comes to trusting Him.

    • Darlene

      I just came to this blog for the first time. It’s quite interesting to see how Christians from different traditions view God and His relationship with us.

      I am an Orthodox Catechumen and will be chrismated on Lazurus Saturday.

      May Christ our God continue to reveal His immeasurable love toward you.

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