i've walked away from God before. told Him i was done. told Him to leave me alone. i asked Him to go stand on the other side of the room. to not look my way. that when and if i was ready to talk to Him again, i'd let Him know. it was a bold moment for me. to look in the face of my Creator and let Him see my anger. my sadness. my disappointment. i had come to a moment when i thought my faith couldn't save me. when everything i ever believed was questioned and shaken and destroyed.
one of my best friends had killed herself. she had taken a gun and shot herself. in the head. in the front seat of her father's car. while he was inside the store buying drinks for them, she decided to end it all. in some strange parking lot, all by herself, my friend's life ended. and from that moment on, mine was never the same.
when they called with the news i didn't believe it. it's impossible to believe such a thing about someone you love. someone you've prayed with. someone you've shared your passion for Christ with. you can't possibly believe something like this. you can't wrap your mind around something that makes no sense. you can't allow yourself to think that such a tragedy could touch someone you know. someone you're close to. someone you believed you'd be friends with forever. but the story was true. the rumors were real. she was gone. she had left. and somehow i was still here.
it shouldn't have been her. it couldn't have been her. she was the one who always showed up first for babies being born, and people needing help. she was the one who sent cards "just because" and brought food for people in pain. she was the source that everyone came to, the one that everyone knew they could count on. she made sure people knew that they mattered, that they were loved, that they were taken care of. and yet it wasn't enough. she gave everything she had to this life and yet this life took the very life out of her.
i blamed God for it. i blamed Him for her death. i never came right out and said it, but He knew. i wondered where He was while she sat in that car. i wondered where He was when she found that gun. and i wondered where He was when she pulled that trigger. she had spent her life believing in Him and in her darkest moment it wasn't enough. and if it wasn't enough for her, i wondered how it would ever be enough for me.
and so i walked away from God. i was so grieved at heart that i couldn't focus. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't see past the pain. i cried a million tears and yet they still kept falling. i talked to God from a distance like a friend who had betrayed me. i was suddenly the girl who had lived her life telling others about her faith and now i was questioning if it was even real.
i'd always been the one to tell others to be ready. to get the Word of God down so deep inside you that when the world tries to get you down it wouldn't stand a chance. i'd always say you can't start flipping through your Bible in the middle of a storm. there's no time to find the hope you need when you're in the middle of the fire. by then it's too late. you have to have it. you have to know it. and even though i turned my back on God, His Word was still alive. His promises were still real. His life still breathed in me even when i couldn't breathe on my own. in the middle of the worst fire of my life, His Word found me. it sheltered me. it saved me.
"the joy of the Lord is your strength". that's the scripture that saved me from myself. i kept hearing it over and over in the days following her death. despite the tears and the sadness and the pain. despite the fact that i tried to walk away. despite everything in me that said i was done with God, i still heard His voice. and because i heard His voice, i knew He still heard mine. and somehow just knowing that He heard me helped me. because i knew He was listening. and that He cared. and that He loved me despite it all.
though almost two years have passed, i still struggle with my friend's death. i still cry when i think of her. i still wish she was here. i still have more questions than answers. more sadness than peace. but i never stop talking about her. i never stop telling people about her. and i never stop loving her. and though nothing about it makes sense, this one thing i do know...even when we choose to walk away from God, He never...ever...walks away from us.