“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
Recently, I’ve been abandoned by my friends. I use the word abandoned liberally but honestly. Text messages don’t get returned. Voice mails go unanswered. I’m left with a hug when we are finally in the same place that feels like a metaphorical pat on the butt from a teammate. “Go get ‘em, Slugger, see you next game.” This nonchalance is from good people, phenomenal people, people who I once knew well. I envisioned our kinship lasting for generations like that of David and Johnathan’s.
I stare at these broken relationships and hear God calling me. “I’m the one.” Perhaps I’ve never been silent enough to hear His voice in the past, but I recognize He’s been calling me for a long time. As I look back into my childhood, I’ve attempted to replace a strong relationship with God with earthly associations. You see, when I was younger, I didn’t have any friends. No, I don’t mean many friends, I mean any. Not a one. In fact, I was so desperate for friendships that I idolize my first friend, who I met in my preteen years. He is the one that I will forever say can do no wrong, even though I’m sure he has just as many skeletons in his closet as the rest of us.
As soon as I acquired platonic relationships in my teenage years, I longed for romantic ones. My desperation caused me to date someone who months into our “romance” wouldn’t acknowledge me at school. If I had known then about God’s love for me, I would have opened my eyes and appointed Him my knight in shining armor. Instead, I became embittered when the boy I had spent so much time deifying disassociated himself with me. Resentment enveloped me. Instead of coming to terms with how much power I had given him, I pointed an accusatory finger in his direction. I spent endless hours and days convinced he was the problem, not all the faith I was putting in him. Meanwhile I benched God and searched for someone else to fill his spot.
I’m married now, and with my love life situated, I’m back to hunting for that pack of forever friends, which the 21st century’s to do list is not likely to allow. I keep searching every year or two for the woman or couple who will remain a constant extension of our family. Frustrated, I’ve given up enough to hear God tugging at my heart. “I’ll never leave you or forsake you. When other moms cut your much-needed conversation short to get in the carpool line thirty minutes before school lets out, I’m here. When you see your former bestie’s Facebook posts filled with photos of your replacements, I’m here. When no one close to you is willing to learn what it takes to watch your special needs child, I’m here. When your loneliness overcomes you in a church building occupied by 500 people, I’m here. When you desperately need advice, my text message service is never failing, my word is never lacking, and my arms are always open. I’m better than a friend. Better than a sister. I’m a forever God.”
As I pen these words, conversations I’ve never had with God overflow on the backburner. Years of not tending to His desires to be my one and only have accumulated, and I have a lot of catching up to do. I wish I’d stopped to listen earlier. I hope today if you, like me, write people off when they don’t meet the standard you have placed before them, you can come to terms that those who hurt you are made of flesh and blood. Whether they intended to cause you harm or did it innocently, they are in need of grace like you and I. And if you struggle with putting the people in your life on a pedestal, perhaps today you can offer your hand to them and release them from a position they were never meant to occupy. It will give those poor human sinners a chance to breathe and be flawed individuals without condemnation. Most importantly, your God, who will never let you down, can then reclaim His spot as the hero of your life.