Are you there God?
That’s a question I’ve asked a lot. I mean, a lot! For too many years, I asked the question over and over again, feeling alone and lost. But, I’m a glass half full kind of girl and knew there had to be something better. I just didn’t know how to find it. I’m here to tell you that it took me a while, but I did find it. I found out that God is there — every day, every hour, every minute. When I first realized God was truly there, I remember thinking to myself, “How did I not realize this before?” It seemed so simple, and yet I missed it over and over and over again.
I grew up in a Christian household, attended church and Christian schools, was active in my church and played in the band — all while I lived an incredibly sinful life. I got into way too much stuff I shouldn’t. You don’t need details. Let’s just say, it wasn’t good.
I was a “fake” Christian doing what I thought I was supposed to do to pass the test but all along thumbing my nose at God and His church. I felt guilty about it. All the time.
I continued to “play church” for years. I got married, attended church, but I continued to do a lot of the messed up stuff I had done before. But then, I got invited to a women’s retreat by my church. I figured I would go. Why not? I can go lie in a field somewhere and rest. Yes, that’s all I needed. A weekend away to get close to my thoughts. That would take away all my guilt so I could move on with my life all fixed.
What I didn’t realize was that God had a special plan for me that weekend. He knew what I really needed. He knew that I didn’t need to simply rest under a tree but that I needed to face my fear of being who I was—my fear of owning up to the person I had become. God knew I needed to break down the walls I built to protect myself from admitting I was messing up my life. The women leading the retreat didn’t force me to “do church.” They didn’t want anything from me. Instead, they loved me unconditionally and without hesitation. They didn’t push me to follow their agenda or admit to my faults. Instead, these people accepted me the way I was, with all my faults and mistakes and just loved me the way Jesus loves me. I had never experienced anything like it in my life. My eyes were finally open.
Here’s the crazy thing: I had spent my whole life “playing church,” pretending to be something I wasn’t and figuring I could hide it from God and the entire time feeling guilty about it. But in reality, I wasn’t hiding anything from God. He knew it all already: every flaw, lie, and messed up situation.
God still loved me. Unconditionally. Without question. Without judgment.
I always thought God needed me to be perfect, and since I couldn’t be perfect, I might as well do as I pleased. So, I did as I pleased and felt horrible about it. The truth is, God doesn’t expect me, or you, or anyone, to be perfect. He knows that’s too much of a burden. He knows we can’t achieve it. He wants us to be just as we are. With all our flaws and questions and messes. So, that’s what I try to do everyday. I’ve stopped pretending to be perfect (although I’ll always be a perfectionist). I’ve finally learned how to “own” my stuff and work through my problems instead of pretending they don’t exist.
Don’t let me leave you with the impression that now that I’ve found God and trust Him, my life is always sunshine and rainbows. It’s not. I’m a single mom of a 12 year old girl. If you’re walking that walk, you know what I mean. Life is hard! It’s not perfect! It never will be, no matter how much stuff or power or popularity you have. But I now know that I have a God who loves me. No matter what happens.
Even though I can’t see or hear Him physically, I see Him every day in the hearts and hands of so many people around me and in this awesome world He’s created. I hear Him in the midst of the mess I’ve created too. Yep. Even there I can feel God whispering to me in a still small voice “I love you. I’m here. I’m not leaving. Take my hand and we’ll work this out together.” And, together, we do.