[Word count: 635. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
On Father’s Day, a sermon in a Black church usually needs the disclaimer: “Because we have problems with our earthly fathers, relating to God as a ‘heavenly father’ is difficult.” That’s because we view our relationship with God through our experiences with people. This guarantees a warped view.
Among my own warps are some weighty abandonment issues. And lately, they’ve become inflamed like a habanero on the tongue. I basically believe leaving is just something people do. People become disinterested. People get distracted. People take offense. Sometimes they die. But one way or another, they leave. And since God seems to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, this feeds a nagging suspicion He may do the same.
- “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20 KJV)
- “I will never leave nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)
- “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:18 KJV)
- And this is my favorite: “Neither height nor depth nor principalities nor powers nor past or present nor future shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)
Through my warped filters, I hear these scriptures differently. They may say nothing can come between us, but what if that “nothing” has an asterisk? This scares me. Por favor, no me abandonas. S’il vous plaît, ne me quitte pas. How many ways can I say… please don’t leave.
“I’m scared to fight, ‘cause I’m scared to bleed.
I’m scared to love, ‘cause I’m scared [you’ll] leave.”
—Jazmine Sullivan, “Fear”
The problem has progressed to the point where I can’t really get close to people, arrested by a fear of not being able to handle the rejection. Basic interactions trigger a series of alarms from “they may leave” to “are they leaving?” to “I knew it… now they’re gone.” That insecurity complicates relationships with people the same irrational way it complicates my relationship with God.
As frequently as I suspect people may abandon me, I fall into feeling God is either dead, distant, or nonexistent. The moment this happens, the motivation to do “believer” things drops sharply. “If God isn’t there, why bother?” These fears make my faith unstable.
Shaken and stirred
Last week, a friend invited me to church. And while there, a beautiful, strong, old, tender, and fearless woman saw my face and discerned it. She took my head in both hands and shook it firmly as she said to me, “I can see the confusion in your eyes. I understand that you are upset and angry. This is just a season.” As she pled, I felt God’s presence seeping through her like paper towels on a spill.
I needed someone to wake me up and say “It’s not over for you. God still is. You’re not alone. Not only does God not disavow knowledge of you, I don’t. I see you, he sees you, and there is more to your story.” I needed someone to see me. My perception of God came through it, through a person.
What I have described is the sickness that I manage. It requires assistance, like a heart that needs to be shocked out of its dysrhythmia. This is the disease I seek healing from. “If you are willing, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40).
Fortunately, I have a handful of people who— regardless of how I grimace and curse— stay. People who stay help reorient me to a God who does not leave. They are corrective lenses that help me see past hurt-borne astigmatism. Their presence promotes healing. And they model love in observable ways that embarrass my fears publicly. They believe for me when I don’t. They believe in me when I can’t. So to those who have stayed… you don’t know what you do for me. Thank you.
Now for some dark humor to lighten the mood, watch the music video below
(or try this link if you’re using a mobile device):
Related Articles on Junkyard Salvation:
- By Your Side: A Devotional — Here’s how a love song by Sade reminds me of God’s promises to me in the Bible.
- The Darkest Night — A short confessional about why I don’t quite believe at the moment…
- Stop Making Sense — Faith does answer some questions that math won’t. Take a look at the downside to the need to understand everything.
- If, Then, But and Other Things You Said — Sacrilege as it seems, I’ve had to question how effective the Bible is. Don’t stone me. I have reasons.
- For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf — If you’ve never wondered if living as an Agnostic would be easier than living as a Christian, then you haven’t lived long enough. I thought about it…
Funny how this works. I think everyone will leave, but you. Even if I don’t talk to you, I know you are there. Here is what I do know: I will call you every year for your Birthday on the wrong day. You will always be my longest friend. My kids will annoy you. You will fly through Bako like a thief in the night and I will be one of your stops. To say all this, I really mean, I can’t leave you. You’re a part of me. Duh.
Love this, “Money” 😉
Don’t worry, God has your back and so do I. You’ll never get the “car door slam/screetching tires” treatment from us.
LOL. This is serious. You’re not supposed to make me laugh! But thanks, bro. Love you like a broke college student loves the 99 cent Burger King value menu.
Im not going anywhere, and u betta not, either! Xoxo
Sounds spiffy. You’ve got a deal.
This was beautiful, Mark! I’m glad that you got the assurance you needed. There’s nothing you can do except try to hurt me that’ll make me say, “Nuh uh! He is doing TOO much! Delete delete delete!” Thank you being real with yours; we need more of that, not less.
LOL @ Delete delete delete. Thanks, Amber. I had to consult with friends first about putting myself out there this much, but it looks like it’s going to be a good thing. Thank you for supporting. It means the world.
You couldn’t get rid of me if you tried. We’ve got all eternity.
I may hold you to that. And this is public record now. So no finger crosses & no takebacks. Heh.
As Prince says “Electric word, life. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.”
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You have no idea how much I needed to read this. I get it. I get you.
Sunday after service, I experienced something similar. You put into words exactly what I have been feeling.
“I see you, He sees you, and there is more to your story.”
I definitely needed someone to see me. I also needed to know that I am not the only one who has these feelings. Keep writing, keep sharing, & keep shining. People see you. I may not communicate with you on Twitter, but I admire you from a far. You inspire. I see you. xo
Oh man. Thank you so much. You don’t know how much comments like this mean on the days when you publish a piece of your soul and you hear no response but crickets.
God bless you for confirming I’m not crazy.
Ok, it might be relevant.
Yeah. I see what you did there. *hard sigh* I’m actually much closer to the above as a goal. If I hadn’t made any improvements there, I wouldn’t have been able to write this. (Umm… ignore the fact that it ends with her leaving me. Progress is progress, damnit.)
I didn’t even “think” about it. It was just a heart response to your posting 🙂
That makes it all the more believable and real… which in turn makes it scary. Don’t come up in here strumming my pain with your fingers and what not. It’s rude. *breathes into paper bag* LOL
My friend strummed my feelings with her hands, too and made me cry so hey, It can be good to *emote* sometimes, I guess 🙂 Gotta hate it, though. ha ha
Well, I think I meant to say that I too had a moment on Friday where a sort of ordinary conversation forced me to get out some thoughts I had stuffed away in my mind. Even though it’s uncomfortable it’s worth it to be heardand UNDERSTOOD.
I even cried. The convo I had was so real and I hate that, it makes me feel weak 😦 Even though in that chasm is where the the light peers into the cracked vessel. I had to come back and provide a more proper response. (I’m a better talker than typer or rather easier talker.)