I walked away from the Lord in December of 2014. It wasn’t a decision I made on the fly because I was feeling pissy and temperamental. I had been lost in my faith for over a year, and frankly, I felt completely abandoned. I was so tired of wrestling with abandonment. For once, I wanted to be the one to cut ties. I wanted to say no. I wanted to have the revengeful satisfaction of walking away from someone. Because God and I were so distant, he was the only one I had the heart to do that to.
I hated God, but not in a fiery way. My hatred was far more bitter and deeply entrenched–it was cold hatred. Cold hatred does not cause you to scream or throw things; it makes you skeptical and hardened. I saw the holes in the Biblical stories and teachings I’d grown up with all my life. In a way, I felt freer. My personal values had never quite aligned with the Bible, and I was tired of justifying myself. I lived my own way…but that way was lonely. The ache of isolation was near constant and always heavy on my heart. I took to introspective, stormy journaling. Yes, I was free indeed, but perhaps a bit too free. I was desperate for an anchor.
Sometime in mid to late March, I sat alone in a coffee shop. It had become a regular thing for me to take myself out on “dates” in order to make myself feel better. As I looked around and saw groups of people chatting and enjoying company, I started to cry. The tears could not be contained. My God, I felt so completely empty and desolate. No matter how much validation I received from others, it always fell through a gaping hole. I sobbed into a napkin and told God, “If one person comes up and asks if I’m alright, I will love you.” It seems like such a silly and attention-seeking thing to do now, but I felt like I had no other choice. I was starving for connection, and I sought it even from strangers. Nobody came up to me. People saw, looked concerned and uncomfortable, but continued on with their evening. It was about ten minutes from closing time. Almost everybody else had left the shop, and I had not yet made any effort to clean up my table. It was almost stereotypical how cold and sad I looked, sitting alone in a nearly-empty coffee shop.
I saw a young employee with a broom and a dust pan making his way back toward the bathrooms. He saw me, stopped, and asked,
“Hey, are you okay?”
That young man spoke the words of God to me that night. God was asking if I was okay. I felt him hug my loneliness like an older sister. It was then that I realized that God wasn’t the crotchety old man I’d seen him as. To me, he was my big sister. He was my buddy. He was just what I needed.
My new perspective on God changed everything that night. I cannot help but cry even now. In the month or so that followed, I was very close to the Lord. I thought about him all the time and read my Bible every day. And although that passion has largely faded, I’m still grateful for what God gave me that night. My faith ebbs and flows, and maybe I’m getting it back a little. Maybe I’ll come home to my big sister.
When God says that he will meet you wherever you are, he really means it. To me, then, I needed someone to be my big sister. God saw that need and tended to it. I believe that God is big enough to manifest himself in different forms to different people. I have known some people to see him as a protective lion, like Aslan. God loves you enough to meet you at your level.
He wants to be who you need right now.