So no one told you life was gonna be this way…

Dear God,

A person on my retreat just led a time of meditation speaking from your perspective. She said, “I want a relationship with you. I would be so thrilled to have you give to me the same time and energy and love that you give to your friends,” or something along those lines.

It really has me wondering.

I thought about how in scripture we hear about idols and are warned not to worship them. We are shown how meaningless and helpless idols are, how destructive they can be when we center our lives on them instead of you. So the commandments about you and idols are to help us, right? Not just to restrict us or to bind us.

Usually, it seems in the modern context we translate this idea of idols into things that go beyond statues and golden calves to things like money, sports, perfection, power, beauty, good grades, etc. I have never thought that friends could be called an idol. And while I’m sure that this is not what was meant by tonight’s comment, as soon as I thought it I realized how true it could be. Especially to a people pleaser. We who need our friends to like us and approve of us and affirm us can spend so much time devoted to others, practically worshipping their thoughts and opinions. God, help me never to place another’s opinion and approval over yours. God, help me.

But God, I realized something else. I’m not sure you would want me to give you the time an attention that I give to my friends and I don’t just mean because you are more than friend, you are GOD for crying out loud. I feel terrible and embarrassed to admit that I don’t think I’m a very good friend.

I used to be a great friend. I used to get my friends little thoughtful treats. I used to send them little messages online or by text. I used to send real mail. That I made the envelopes myself to send it in! With little trinkets or personalized clippings from magazines or something! But I think when I lost myself last year in depression and overwhelming loneliness and deep waters of disappointment with myself, I never recovered the part of myself that was a good friend. I’ve been working so hard on trying to find myself again in one very particular way that I guess I forgot that part of who I used to be was thoughtful and generous and loving and supportive to my friends.

What happened to me, God?
Who am I?
Am I still that friend?
Have I put on a new self who cannot be that friend? Or just not yet?

I want to find that part of me again. I want to find that part of me again that reminds me most of you. And I wouldn’t be ashamed to love you that way and more. God, help me to find myself, to find the self in me that is the seed of you which you planted so long ago. Help me to be generous, loving, attentive to my friends.

At some point life and busy and work, which is good work but still work, and distance and sickness and new things and funerals and self-centeredness and self-pity and more than even I know but that you know have pulled me inside myself, inside a shell that keeps
me from seeing anything other than me. I haven’t been there for my friends. And while I know that part if why is because I’ve been trying to be there for strangers, to make strangers feel like friends, but I think my friends deserve care and companionship that I have not been there to give them. And not just because of distance between us. You never let distance keep you from us. Even when we try to create distance between ourselves and you!

Draw me out of myself, God, and nearer to you. Help me to love as you love. Help me to be generous as you are generous. Help me to listen as you listen. Help me to reach out and pursue my friends the way you pursue all your children. God, help me to do all this and more in my life with you. I’ll be there for you.

Amen.

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