Every time I write something here I think it's the last thing because HOW DUMB and WHY and THE POINT IS etc. etc.
But then sometimes I just really really want to write something down! And I'm excited! And this is one of those times. Also this is something I know I've written dozens of times before, but don't care, I'm writing it again. This is an act of praise and worship for me.
I'm listening to a song called Yes and Amen a lot - my favorite version was one I heard at a conference, but the Chris Tomlin recording will do. And it has these lyrics:
I will rest in your promises
My confidence is your faithfulness
I was listening to it this morning and just FREAKING OVERCOME with God's faithfulness in my life. The way that he indulged a kid obsessed with ESP and psychics and supernatural phenomena and ghost stories and oh so gently and patiently directed me to the Source of all that crazy. Like, "Ok, going to that palm reader was kinda weird, huh, now let me introduce you to some prophetic people who have words of knowledge on steroids, you know, because they're my people." Or, "Sure, you can have the gift of tongues before you have any context or education about it at all, and before you even RESPECT it, that'll come!" Our God is so kind!
But it's his faithfulness to me the year I was 15 - the story I've shared a million times - that never fails to drop my jaw, that I believe will continue all the rest of my life. The summer I turned 15 I moved to a new school - new town, new COUNTRY - and everything was mixed up and terrible and not right and, for me, devastating. It was a combination of my parents wrapped up in their own real and numerous problems and me ashamed to admit anything was wrong. It was me putting on my Determined Capable Pants, then hiding in the base chapel during lunch hour because I had no friends, not one, and I didn't know what to do with myself or my shame or my fear.
I didn't have a single person in the world, not even my family. I didn't talk to anyone. For a year. When I was 15. Is this not the most first world testimony you've ever heard? The other day a woman on our ministry team shared her testimony of running away through gunfire as a child, pulling her little brother to safety. THAT'S A GOOD TESTIMONY.
Mine... A year of deep seated shame at my failure to "succeed" at high school. No random group to eat lunch with, let alone a best friend and popular boyfriend like I'd had at my old school. I wasn't bullied or disliked, I just wasn't favored or chosen or picked, not one single person seemed interested in who I was. So I sat in the base chapel, or I wandered less traveled side streets, or I pretended I had things to work on in the library. I had no idea how sensitive a person I was, and what was valued in my family was Powering Through. I acted like Everything Was Fine.
And I prayed. I PRAAAAAAAAYED. It wasn't out of a deep faith in God, a strong knowledge of him, experience, none of that. It was having nothing else. It was a Last Resort. It was The Only Thing I Had. I prayed and prayed and prayed and I can't remember if I heard anything or felt better. Didn't matter. What else was I going to do?
The next two years, my junior and senior years of high school, I developed a sense of the land and learned how to survive. I made some friends, if not Best Friends, and I rarely ate lunch alone, though I always felt panicky and had to strategize how to not find myself without people. I figured it out, you know? But never felt at home, never felt secure in a Place, and I continued to pray incessantly for people. MY people.
I started finding them in college. Slowly. Unevenly. But by then I could hear God in my heart and was following his every nudge. What else did I have? Who else had kept me alive?
I met Phillip when I was 19. We started dating when I was 21. And that was it.
It wasn't Phillip, although so so much of it was Phillip. It was Phillip, and then all the people who came with him that year, and who were already with me, and then... they didn't go away. And there were more people. And more. AND MORE.
I wasn't beautiful or popular or outgoing (HA HA HA), I hadn't learned how to be friendly yet, I didn't have a space for inviting people over, I didn't know about being hospitable, but my life was so full of PEOPLE. Each year I received more. More people. Some of them were around only for a season, but many stayed. Some of them came back.
When we got married we had a group of friends that hung out weekly at our apartment. We did this for years. I sincerely could not believe that I had this. That I got to do this.
We met people at church. I started organizing my OWN friend groups.
The kids were born. I started MOM groups.
I never felt isolated as a new stay-at-home-mom and do you know why? Because God gave me THE INTERNET. This is truth. I never ever felt isolated. Shut up, Me, right? BUT IT'S TRUE. I had my - by this time - super solid, amazing, core group of real thing friends - and when they weren't available, I had YOU. I met you in person. I started to pick fights with people who said the internet was stupid and scary and bad for you. (I did not become friends with those people.)
As I sang those lyrics this morning I was just in awe. Even though I have been in awe over this for years now, it does not fail to awe me all over again. I will never forget the depth of the shame and fear and unhappiness of my inner 15-year-old and I will never stop being amazed about how her God answered her prayers.
I don't have one best friend, I have TWO. Have you ever heard of this?! Three women who never feel insecure about one of them being the third wheel?!
God continues to give me people. Parents at my kids' school, their teachers, an entirely new church ministry and the people who keep cropping up for that. I've heard so many women talk about how hard it is to make friends in this stage of life and I say nothing because that does not apply to me. It's not because now I AM beautiful and popular and awesome, it's because GOD IS FAITHFUL. Along the way I learned how to be friendly and to fake being outgoing and now sometimes I know that some of the people God gives me come with a mission and I need to be intentional with them. But most of them? Most of them are straight up gifts, most of them are just My People.
I have had lonely days. I expect to have lonely times in the future. But the story of my life, so far, is how God CONQUERED loneliness in my life, with such joyful, faithful, mind boggling abundance. I considered myself to be one of those "one or two super close friends" people. I have... multiple SETS of those people. I have more people than some folks have in a lifetime and you guys, that is not bragging, that is my TESTIMONY. That is God's work in my life. I have my story of anxiety, I have my story of where he's taking me with my spiritual gifting, I have a story of financial provision and a story of healing. But none of those things make me fall to my knees like the story of how our good Father heard his desperate and ashamed 15-year-old daughter who barely knew him, stayed by her side during that dark year, and plotted out the wonderful heart people he would give her in each subsequent year of her life, more and more and more. I just. I mean. THANK YOU, GOD.