I clasped her hand wishing I had the right answer to the groans of her soul. In the mirror of her eyes, I saw my own gaping wounds. I heard the echoes of my soul. I heard my cries as they echoed off the heavens while I waited on a silent God. Answers don't come easy to some of us, and I wasn't going to pretend they do.
I have looked at the chaos of my life while the fraidy cat whispers, "See! The path has been easy for them! They were meant to be! You? You can't even wrestle your way up into the lap of the God who created you. He's always swatting you aside for the prettier girl with the magical faith and 'picturesque-implication-of-a stress-free kind of life' blog." My soul screams, as does my friend's, to know that your God loves me as much as he loves you. We put on our masks and pretend we are just like you. But we are fraidy cats.
I too had craved a silent God only to see him draw close to others around me. Their lives seemed so much less complicated than mine. My need for him so much greater. Yet, they basked in his glow while I labored alone in the dark and cold of the night shift. Their finances were fancy. Their kids were uncomplicated and excelled on the sporting field, in the classroom, and with their peers. I wrestle to prove to mine that they are fearfully and wonderfully made despite their unique challenges. The vigor of other families mocks me as I watch my husband struggle day to day while we wait on doctors who have no answers. I watch as their goals become realities. I have no goals left other than to survive. It seems they could do no wrong while I could do no right. I knew what it was to hear the voices of the multitudes chime in on their solutions even tho' they'd never understand my life. I look at my friend. I see myself in the mirror with every word she speaks and tear she cries.
I thought of Job's 3 friends and how they droned on and on in their wisdom so certain of themselves. Yet, they were clueless regarding the story God was telling thru Job's life. I thought of how Job's friends got it 100% right when they first sat with him for 7 full days while not uttering a single word. They left him room to wrestle with his own grief and loss and didn't require that he snatch up his mask to make them feel better.
I thought of how weary Christians can make each other. I knew that when we left the haven of the coffee shop, I wanted her to feel safer and more energized than she did when we arrived. I gently explained that tho' I wished it so, I did not have the voice of God for her that day. And, even tho' I knew her pain as intimately as I knew my own, I knew that God loved her. Then, because we needed a laugh, I said, "I have it on pretty good authority that he loves YOU more than he loves me!"
Mutual laughter mingled with tears as I said, "You know...I have to cling to one thing of which I'm sure. God doesn't make mistakes. Because he is God, he is sovereign over our mistakes. I'm not sure why you made the decision you made that now seems so costly, but God does. He knew you made it out of an obedient heart. He will take what was ruined and redeem it in his time." A phone rang, and life snatched us apart while there was still so much more to say.
In the days since we laced our coffee with tears, my phone has buzzed. The text display reads, "God called. He wanted you to know he loves YOU more than me!" And, we laugh together because we don't need a mask anymore. I pray for my friend. And, when I do, these words echo thru the chambers of my heart:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)