|After crying my eyes out and FINALLY getting myself together|
In the Beginning
Chantel and I met maybe a year after I gave my life to the Lord. Although I'd had really close friends before her, she was the friend that I grew in Christ with. We learned a lot about walking with the Lord together. We learned how to study His word together. We made tough decisions that caused us to say "no" to ungodliness and "yes" to righteousness, together. She "called me out" when I was in an unfruitful relationship and "told me about myself" (neck roll and all) when I wasn't reflecting Christ with my actions. And I did the same for her.
We lived in different states, miles and miles apart, and saw each other a couple times a year, but what God had built in us was a friendship that was anchored in Him. We were (and are) accountable to one another, and she is someone I will always associate with my growth in Christ. When I think about those baby steps I took in my first 2 years with the Lord, Chantel was there, "holding my hand". And one day, just like that, I had to loosen my grip.
When I knew Chantel would be getting married (she married someone who was one of my closest guy friends at that time), the Lord began to prepare my heart to understand what was about to happen. From the time we became friends, Chantel and I would talk on the phone pretty regularly. Sometimes we'd talk for hours. I don't know how we did this in college, but we did. The same was true for her husband, Antoine. Sometimes he and I would chop it up on the phone for hours too. Then, they started talking less to me and more to each other. I knew something was going on before the two of them did, but when the light came on and they learned that there was something special between them, there was no turning back.
It was at that time, with one very memorable phone conversation between Chantel and me, that the Lord said, "This is it." He was preparing me to lose my friends. He was showing me that I wouldn't be able to talk to them as much because they were laying the foundation for what would be their union--the two becoming one. He stretched my patience and curbed my selfishness because there were moments I wanted to have Chantel's time and attention to talk and kick it like we'd done before, but many times when I wanted that, her time and attention was with Antoine. And when I knew that things were serious, out of respect for what was happening, no matter how cool Antoine and I were, and how much Chantel knew that, I backed off of how much he and I talked. If I needed to get anything to him, I sent it through Chantel. It took a few years of them building what would eventually become the marriage they have now, so I had plenty of time to grow into a pretty comfortable acceptance of our new way of being.
And Then It Was Over
He proposed. She said yes. She asked me to be in the wedding. I said yes. We planned and prepared, and for months, talked about what was to come. Then, that weekend in April 2006 was upon us. I was fine that Friday when all of the final plans were being put into play. As long as we were working and she and I were side by side, I was good. Even that Saturday morning, the day of the wedding, I was okay. With all the hustle and bustle from the hotel to the church, who had time to think about the actual ceremony? It wasn't until we were in the bridal waiting room at the church and the photographer came in to snap our pictures. Out of nowhere, a burst of emotion swelled up on the inside of me and flew from my body in a hiccupping cry. And it was uncontrollable. I couldn't even contain myself, and there was no comforting me.
I didn't realize it then, but I knew I was having a release that said, "I won't have my friend anymore...not like I had her before. She's always my friend, but her first priority is now her husband." And it hurt. I was so excited for the two of them to be together. Lord knows I didn't want either one of them to be with anyone else. They're PERFECT for each other! But boy was it hard to "give my friend away". And it never got any easier.
Life Began Again
A few years after they wed, Chantel and Antoine welcomed their son, Asa, into the world, and soon thereafter, their daughter, Avery.
Their family grew quickly, and of course, that meant Chantel was pulled into many different directions. I LOVED seeing her as a wife and mother whenever I'd visit, and God always used those visits to remind me that Chantel's first ministry is her family and her home. She and I would set up phone dates to talk and pray, and we'd have our trips planned for her to either come to me, or for me to go to her, and we'd have the most precious time. Chantel was always intentional about maintaining our relationship, but life, naturally, just doesn't allow us to have as much time as we used to.
The Hard Truth
There are times when I only want to talk to Chantel. I have other friends. I have family. And before and above any of them, I have God by way of the Holy Spirit. There are things, however, that no one else knows. There's this me that no one else understands. And sometimes, outside of our scheduled phone dates, I just simply want to talk to my friend. Sometimes, I'll shoot her a text, and it'll get a response days later. Sometimes, I don't get a response at all. The same goes with phone calls. And Lord, don't let me send a Glide to the person who convinced me to start Gliding in the first place. I dun' gave that up! And most times, because God prepared my heart and mind years and years ago, I don't even sweat it. I know what's up on the other end. She's been apologetic on so many occasions, but I assure her that the Lord comforts my heart when I can't talk to her or when she doesn't respond. Most times, when I don't get a response from her, it reminds me to pray for her and for all she juggles at home and at work. There are days, though, when I want to have a fit because I just want her to pick up and talk for a couple minutes. And there are times when I send a simple question that doesn't require much thought or time for her to respond, and when she doesn't answer, I swear I wanna hop a plane and get to where she is and make her answer me. And I've been hurt sometimes when she doesn't say anything. I've had thoughts like, "Why doesn't she care like I care? Doesn't she know how it feels to be ignored?" I've thrown fits. And I've told myself a couple times that when she calls or texts me, I'm not gon' respond. I'm gon' ignore her too and leave her hangin' in the wind. But I never can because love doesn't do that.
A Love That Speaks
I was having one of those moments when I was just ready to ignore Chantel because it had been a while since we'd spoken. I had sent a text or two that she hadn't responded to and it had been over a week. I'd called once, too, maybe a couple weeks prior to this "moment" I was having. I'd been telling myself that if she called or texted, I wouldn't respond.
And then one day she called.
I was at work and on my planning period (I'm a teacher). Normally, I'm all over the place during my planning period. I'm in the office, I'm making copies, I'm making phone calls, I'm meeting with parents, I'm grading papers... It's a busy time, and this day was no different. I'd left my classroom to do one of the above mentioned tasks, and when I returned to my desk, I saw that I'd missed Chantel's call by 2 minutes. I was SO excited to see her missed call that all the craziness about ignoring her went out the window. Ha!
I immediately called her back, hoping that she hadn't gotten busy in those 2 minutes, because it has certainly happened before! I let the phone ring until her voicemail picked up, and when it did, I said, "Noooooo! Nooooo! Nooooo!"
I plopped down in my chair and felt like the Atlanta Falcons must've felt when they were up in the Super Bowl and allowed the other team to gain over 20 points in 1 quarter to win the game and snatch the win. I was finally about to get to talk to my friend, and I missed her, and I realized at that moment that I would've been okay with just hearing from her. We wouldn't have had to talk about anything major; I was okay just knowing she cared enough to take a moment out of her day to talk to me.
And then the Lord spoke.
He said, "Iantha, this is how my heart feels when you "call" to talk to me. The excitement you felt when you saw Chantel had thought about you is the same excitement I feel when you come to talk to me. And oh how quickly you called back! That's what I do! I run to you. And when I wait for you to "call" me and you don't, I feel that too. I feel the same way you feel when Chantel doesn't call. All the while, all I really want is to hear from you. I just want to know that you cared enough about us to take a moment out of your day to talk to me. I really just want to hear your voice. I think about all of the foundation that's laid in our relationship, and I think about how close we are and how I know things that no one else knows. I think about how you can only share those things with me. And that's all I want. I just want you to share those things with me."
Talk about embarrassing, yet amazingly refreshing!
There are times when I'm the Chantel in my relationship with the Lord. He literally sits there and waits for me and drops EVERYTHING to take my call. I get busy with home. I get busy with school. I get busy with church. I get busy with Praise Movement. And although I want to talk to Him, there's so much in front of me to take care of that I don't stop to "respond to His call" or "answer His text" (that tugging in my heart). I think He, too, grows tired of waiting sometimes. And I know it hurts His heart, but the moment I run to Him, he can't ignore me. Even if he wants to stay silent, He finds himself running to be there to hear what I have to say because He loves me so much. He's too vested in who we are, and really, he just wants to hear my voice. He just wants to hear yours too.
Will you "pick up the phone" and call Him today?
This blog post is the Day 3 installment of a 14-Day Journey to Hearing from God. Consider joining the journey here: Introduction: A 14-Day Journey to Hearing from God