According to historian Doris Goodwin, Charles Carow was "an affectionate husband and an effusive, doting father," at least when he was not drinking. Carow, the father of the future First Lady Edith Carow Roosevelt, was ineffective in keeping his shipping business afloat during the troublesome days of the Civil War. His financial woes sent him into a downward spiral. Despite his challenges he adored his daughter, and when separated by distance longed for her letters:
Charles urged [Edith] to write him her thoughts and feelings without the monitor of self-consciousness, without worry over corrections. "I got your letter about 3 o'clock yesterday," he wrote. "It was so nice and long. No matter about the spelling when you write to me. Say what you want to say and don't lose time thinking how to spell the words . . . just write whatever comes into your head."
Charles' loving admonition to "Say what you want to say" reminds me of the words of Philip Yancey. In Disappointment With God, Yancey writes:
“Throw at Him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment – He can absorb them all. As often as not, spiritual giants of the Bible are shown contending with God. They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out.”
"Say what you want to say." God can take it. Not only can he take it, I think He wants it. David has me believing this:
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Psalm 62:5-8 ESV
David had no problem unloading on God. "Say what you want to say" was his M.O. Why was that? I think David was convinced that God genuinely cared for him. Convinced that someone genuinely cares, most of us open our hearts don't we?
Jesus shows such concern. In Luke's account of the Passover night, Jesus said to his disciples, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."
Earnest desire . . . those are the words of someone who genuinely cares.
Our Lord's "earnest desire" to meet is just as strong today. So go ahead, "Say what you want to say." Pour out your heart to him. God is your refuge.
What challenge will you take to him this day?
"an affectionate father..." from The Bully Pulpit:Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and The Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2013. Page 115.
"Charles urged her to write him ..." from The Bully Pulpit. Page 115.
"Throw at Him your grief ..." from Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company. 1997. Page 235.