Three years ago, I got a phone call. I knew little of the details (no one did at that point), but there had been an accident and the outcome was uncertain. The request was simply to pray.
And pray I did.
My faith was not small that day. As I told God what I knew of His character—as I reminded Him of another time He gave a little girl back her life—I truly believed my request to be simple.
I weaved a prayer of hope and trust, but, within an hour, I was picking up a pen to make an amendment to my prayer journal. Written there in red ink, like an editorial note to my future self, are the words:
You are good. All the time. Even in this.
That’s what I choose to believe.
The death of a ten-year-old girl seems a terrible segue into the current state of my life. In fact, I felt kind of guilty about recycling those words.
Those words are sacred. A memorial to Maggie.
And yet I find myself whispering “even in this” as if this could compare to the original moment in question.
It can’t. It really can’t.
The final words I exchanged with that child still haunt me, folks.
But the truth remains that God is good. All the time. Even in this.
Even in this. When my dreams have been derailed and forced to take the scenic route. When I’m twenty-five and, only now, finally moving out on my own. When I pick up a pen and the words won’t come and, when they do, I question their worth. When every ounce of me wants to go back to the girl I was at twenty because she was better than the person I am today.
I think that is the most frustrating thing. Because even if my dreams have not turned out according to plan, I should still be a better, stronger person than I was five years ago.
But I’m not. I’m really not.
My journals bear the proof.
I feel like I should read all of my journals like I read the ones from middle school. With a cringe followed by a wave of relief because I have grown up and overcome that stage of life. I should be able to look at my past and thank God I’m not that girl anymore.
But that’s not how I feel when I encounter the girl at twenty. The girl at twenty makes me want to weep for the things I have lost. I want it back. I want it all back.
Make the girl of twenty-five disappear and just give me twenty, please.
I am going to blame Grace Thornton for this sudden wave of melancholy. Because I was fine. I was fine until I started to read her book and she spoke of her quest for God, and her hunger for God, and her realizing that she had made her life all about God without ever really knowing Him. (There will be a full review of I Don’t Wait Anymore to follow because, seriously, all of the feels. But I digress…)
I was confused. Puzzled to think that I could have endured that same, glorious journey of a life fully abandoned to God only to end up back where I started from. Stuck in a pattern of serving Him simply because I do. And I should have recognized it earlier. Long before Grace. I should have known when friends started asking questions and I didn’t have the answers, or I was ashamed of the answers, or I just wanted to brush the entire conversation off because I was so very tired of fitting the stereotype—so very desperate to escape the pedestal.
I have felt like God has abandoned me, but perhaps I have abandoned Him.
I am reminded of the day Hannah Brencher answered the question, “How do you remind yourself God is with you, even on the hardest and darkest days?”
Her answer was as powerful as it was poetic.
“I hurl myself into the word of God,” she said. “On the days when I don’t feel God, and I assume he has packed a suitcase and left for Rio, I go and hunt him down. I look for him. I ask for him. I knock at his door. I make him answer.”
When I posted those words on Facebook a few months back, I received some critical feedback on the idea of “making” God answer. My friend’s opinion was that God was always right there, ready and waiting to respond to us when we call.
All right, so maybe I was the one who left for Rio and I’ve simply had to make a long trek back, but I couldn’t help being a little jealous of this person who has seemingly never had to knock on God’s door the way the widow from Jesus’ parable did (Luke 18). Night after night after night until he finally acknowledged her request.
Some people really do have a faith like that. A coworker once told me of a conversation she had with God. “As you know, the Holy Spirit is such a gentleman…”
She really said it like that. “As you know.” As if God quite obviously spoke to everyone so sweetly and gently.
I think God knows I don’t like things sugarcoated. Our conversations are a little more direct and, some might say, disrespectful. My holy spirit theology could be more accurately identified by my pastor friend who said the following words:
“Some people say the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. I beg to differ. He slapped Paul right off a horse. That’s not very gentlemanly.”
I have been slapped off my high-horse more times than I can count.
But God is good. All the time. Even in this.
Even in this, as I’m lying on the ground, world spinning around me. As I try to figure out what this means and where I’m meant to go from here. As I pound on God’s door and beg Him not to move to Rio—don’t You dare move to Rio—when I need Him so much right here, right now.
And He is here.
He is good, He is faithful, He is here.
That is what I choose to believe.
Yes, even in this.