Saturday, June 22, 2019

He Calls Me Friend

Weird. Different. Inadequate. If I had a theme song, it would probably be “Which One of These Things Doesn’t Belong”, a song from a popular children’s show.  I’ve struggled with these feelings for most of my life. I think it stems from a combination of many things. I am biracial, so being only half Mexican, and only half Black, I never really felt like I fully belonged to either ethnicity. Then the fact that I am a huge introvert doesn’t help matters. Even though I now have a better understanding of who I am and why and have embraced my uniqueness, it still manages to make life difficult at times.  Social events and group interactions, for instance, are the death of me.  A few months ago, I had to attend a large company function. I was fairly new, and didn’t know anyone. I grabbed my breakfast burrito, and was relieved when I found a safe quiet corner behind a stairwell, where no one could see me.  My tranquil haven only lasted a short while, because one of my co-workers, who also happens to be an introvert, came and pulled out of my corner and forced me to join my other co-workers. While I was not overjoyed about this “rescue”, I felt good because a fellow introvert, and someone who understood my personality, made the effort to make me a part of the group.

Needless to say, having these “weird” personality traits does not make it easy to make friends. I do not have the gift of gab, which is ironic, considering my nickname is Gabby.  In groups, I usually remain silent, unless I feel very comfortable.  I am very blessed that the job the Lord put me in consists of a group of people (and a fantastic boss), who understand and appreciate my personality, and they have allowed me to come out of my shell in my own timing, in my own way. I think what made this transition so easy was that each member listened and valued me and what I have to say.  I think it’s like positive reinforcement: if someone truly listens and acknowledges a person, without dismissing them or changing the subject, the other person will start to feel safe, and will start to open up more.  That is how God is. He truly cares about His children, and He listens attentively. And the safety and security we feel when we go to Him in prayer, the more we open up to Him.  Sometimes it would bother me that I don’t have a lot of friends, and I know my husband wishes I had more friends. While I have always been content to do things by myself, there have been times I wished I had someone who really “gets me “and who I could share everything with. Yes, I have my husband, and he is my dearest friend, but the reality is, husbands don’t always understand the female persuasion. They don’t understand our bodies and the changes that go on; they don’t understand why our emotions are up and down and why we cry at the strangest things.  But as I get older and grow more in my walk with the Lord, I have realized that I do have a friend, the best friend anyone could ever have: Jesus!

I am constantly amazed at God’s goodness.  He is always there, and He is never far away.  Many times, when I am overwhelmed, and my thoughts are all scrambled and I don’t know what to do or say or how to pray, I start journaling to Him.  As I do, I feel immediate peace, and He guides me in the right direction.  He answers me, He comforts me, and He directs my steps. I am overwhelmed in knowing that He cares so much for me.  One of my favorite songs is “I Am a Friend of God”. I weep every time I hear the lyrics: “Who am I that you are mindful of me? That you hear me, when I call. Is it true that you are thinking of me, that you love me? It’s amazing!”  It is very amazing indeed! Taken from David’s words in Psalm 8, this song is a powerful reminder of what a wonderful friend God is to me.  He responds to me is so many ways.  When I am lonely or melancholy, He sends his creation, like birds or bunnies, to greet me on my walks to let me know He is still there. When I am feeling inadequate about myself or my sense of worth and purpose, He reminds me of why I am here, by way of a comment from a citizen I helped or commendation from my boss.  When I am struggling with a decision, He gives me confirmation by opening or closing the doors and giving me peace. The ways He speaks to me are endless, and I am blown away that He hears and cares about even the most insignificant thing I am dealing with.

God’s Word is filled with examples of how He hears and cares for us.  I am touched by how He responded to Hagar, the Egyptian slave of Sarah and Abraham. When Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham, she conceived, and Sarah became jealous, creating a contentious situation. Because of Sarah’s harsh treatment of her, Hagar fled to the desert, all alone. She must have felt so isolated and overwhelmed.  She was an Egyptian slave, so she was away from her people and the home she grew up in. She was treated badly for merely obeying orders from her mistress: to go in to her master and conceive. She is pregnant and all alone.  In the desert. But God, our wonderful and kind Father, goes to her as she is sitting by a well, alone and hopeless, and speaks to her. After she tells Him what happened, He comforts her and gives her a prophecy about her son. He heard her affliction! He heard a lonely, wandering, pregnant young woman in the desert and He came to her to give her comfort and a promise! Then “she called the name of the Lord, The God Who Sees” for she said have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16). How comforted she must have felt knowing God saw her and thought so much of her to come in her time of distress and need!  And He comforted her again several years later. Sarah had again banished Hagar, this time with her son Ishmael. Hagar and Ishmael wandered alone in the desert, and their food and water ran out. She was despondent. She put her son under a tree and walked away so she wouldn’t have to watch him die. God heard her and Ishmael’s cries and He called out to her. He told her to “fear not” and He again gave her a promise. Her son would lead a great nation! And He led her and Ishmael to water, thus saving their lives.  (Genesis 21:9-20)

The story of Hagar is a powerful testament as to how God hears us and cares about us.  It strengthens my faith in knowing that God hears me too.  He listened and heard the cries of a dejected, broken-hearted, lonely, young slave girl in the desert. I know that no matter how alone, odd, or inadequate I feel, God is always right there, listening to my cries, and comforting me, as only a loving Father can comfort.  There may be times that I feel He doesn’t understand me, or isn’t interested my trivial concerns, or is too far away, but I look to His Word, and I and find stories like Hagar’s that remind me of how loving He is, how mindful of me He is, and that He calls me friend.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him?; And the son of Man that you visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels and You have crowned him with glory and honor.” - Psalm 8:3-5

Song: I Am A Friend of God

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