One Sunday, Ian and I listened to our pastor speak on the subject of “Being a friend of God.” Ian was probably about 12 years old at the time. The pastor expounded on a related scripture verse and provided examples of what it means to be a friend. He explained that a friend is someone who wants the best for you. Someone who sees the good in you. Someone who loves you, despite your shortcomings. Someone who understands your moods, quirks and peculiarities. In a nutshell, when you’re with a true friend, you can totally be yourself.
It was at that moment that Ian turned to me and said, “Just like you and me, Mom.”
Some things just stick with you for life, and I will never forget those words.
I felt the same way. There was just something “easy” about our relationship, even during this preteen stage in life. He knew that I did not expect him to conform to society’s expectations nor behave any other way than his natural happy-go-lucky, cheerful and sometimes goofy little self. I utterly loved everything about him. It was true. He could always be himself around me.
So, when I ponder the fact that God considers himself a friend, the way Ian and I were (are) friends, then I know that I am truly blessed. To be a friend of God means that I can be myself and it is enough for God. He will love me just the way I am, despite my shortcomings.
And, he still loves me when I’m broken.
Since Ian left for heaven last year, I have been broken. Intrusive and recurring questions clutter my mind and start to pull me down. I ask: Why, God? Why so soon? Why MY son? Why did he have to suffer? The questions are there and I can’t hide them from God. As bereaved individuals know all too well, such questions arrive anytime, anywhere.
In the seven months that I’ve traversed this difficult journey of grief, the one thing I’ve found that helps to silence these stifling and futile questions is to divert my thoughts to God’s promises.
- I believe in heaven and trust Ian is there;
- I believe heaven is a glorious place;
- I believe Jesus died for our sins and one day we will be reunited with our son;
- I believe in grace and mercy;
- I believe that God is my friend and he will work things out for our good;
- And, like a good friend, God understands that I still struggle.
The other night we were watching the finale of The Voice when Alicia Keys said something powerful to the soon-to-be-crowned Voice winner, Chris Blue. Describing her humble beginnings in a makeshift studio in Harlem, she told Chris, “It doesn’t really matter where you are, it matters where you are in your mind.”
I found truth in this statement and wondered if mabye I could take my thought-diversion tactic to a whole new level.
It’s not easy and not always possible to do, but when I feel the unwanted downward spiral of thoughts and crushing sadness coming on, I work to compel myself to not only think of God’s promises but to literally envision Ian in heaven.
He’s in a glorious place! He’s with his true friend Jesus, where he can always totally be himself! He’s in a place where his love and kindness are always returned with more love and kindness. He is safe and he is healthy. His bright smile is forever present on his beautiful face. I can see his thick brown hair and his strong body again. He awaits our arrival.
No, I can’t bring Ian back. Sadly, that is “where I am” in this world. But, as I grow stronger, I am learning to create in my mind a beautiful scenario of an eternal future based on God’s promises.
It’s where I can be in my mind, and I can go there anytime.
11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:11