Stand Out: Psalm 113:9
Updated: Nov 8, 2019
So, during yesterday's reading, a certain verse in particular stood out to me.
As you can probably tell by the title of this post, it's Psalm 113:9. In the version of the Bible that I often read in my own time, the AMP, it states, "He makes the barren woman to be a homemaker and a joyful mother of [spiritual] children. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)"
And, well, this is how I read that verse. That He sees the prayers of those who are barren, those who are without, and answers those prayers. The women that this verse is talking about are unable to have kids, and they want kids. God, however, doesn't give them the children that they were asking for, but He does give them a community of children to mentor. He gives them people to help raise, puts them in places in which they can nurture and help.
He answers their prayer.
Just... not the way that they were expecting.
This is true of a lot of situations with God. You want something, and it may even be a very good thing. And He hears that prayer, and answers it. But... it isn't what you were expecting.
But, I promise you, you'll come to find it was an even better answer than you were expecting. You just didn't know that was even an option that was viable under God thrust it onto you.
So, while I was reading this verse out loud I had a very specific memory come to mind.
When I was in college.... I... was going through a lot. To put it very lightly.
I had issues my first two years that led to problems that I will deal with the rest of my life. I was hurt in a multitude of ways. And it left me very weary and wary of others.
I joined my Bible group that I've mentioned before in my Junior year of college. This ministry group was my saving grace. They gave me a place where I could slowly start to stand back up after the pains of my first two years. It was, to be honest, almost like being reborn. I was like a newborn deer, just learning how to walk again.
I had gone through excruciating abuse, and had lost all of my ability to interact with others and all of my emotions and so much else. I was relearning how to interact with others and social boundaries and was figuring out how to stand back up. It's one of the main reasons I did everything I could to stay in connection with that ministry group, even after it started to turn on me in the future. Because it had been my saving grace.
Anyways, that tangent was just to let you know that I was really starving for friends.
Really, that was the point there.
I had lost all of my friends through that abusive situation, and I had been too scared to make new ones up until this point.
So, I was raring to go. And I made some friends. Good friends. We had a pretty good group of us for a bit over a year that I felt really connected to. One of them in particular became like my best friend. We hung out all the time. When I went home for the summer (which was out of state), we Skyped like every day to talk and read the Bible together. We ended up leading a Bible study together the next year. We would meet up once a week to plan the study, hang out with our full group of friend like twice a week, and would sometimes have extra hangouts that we both were really excited about. It was a really good friendship for me, where I felt honestly accepted and wanted. I was a priority to her, and she was one to me. I felt good.
I didn't always mesh perfectly with everyone in the group. But, well, that was fine, because none of us meshed perfectly. We all fit well enough and supported each other and created a good and happy group. All it meant was that I didn't have as many one on one hangouts with those people versus other people. Still easily considered all of them very close friends.
In the 2nd semester of that school year that we led together, I was praying and got a message from God. He told me, very clearly, that I was going to make a new friendship in the coming time. It was going to be a group that was even better than my current group. They would support me better and be closer than I would ever imagine. They would be the friends that I had been searching for and had been seeking ever since I started to recover from everything that had happened.
I was really excited. This had been what I was praying for. And like, in the past few weeks, I had started to notice more and more cracks in my current friend group, and I was starting to feel a little out of place there. So, I was glad to know that it wasn't my imagination. So, in my mind, I was going to slowly extricate myself out of that friend group. They were all good people, and good people to be friends with, but I would just slowly start to not be as close friends with them.
That's not how that happened.
The next week, I was heading home from church with my best friend. We hadn't really been able to hang out much this semester, our schedules just really conflicted, so we had been making the most of our Sundays. We would grab donuts for the church together in the morning, go to church, and then usually hang out at one of our places to do homework, chat about what to do for our Bible study, and about any specific issues we were having with our girls.
Anyways, we're heading home, and she pulls up to my place and stops. As she's sitting there with the car in the drop-off lane for my building, she turns to me. And she straight up tells me, out of nowhere, that she no longer wanted to be my friend. "I noticed that I stopped prioritizing you as a friend, and that I haven't been giving you the time you deserve. So, I'm just not going to. I'm done being your friend."
That is actually what she said. The memory of it is still etched into my mind. As well as the dropping feeling in my stomach.
I remember gaping at her like a fish. And trying to grasp for words. I respected her and her wishes too much for me to want to make a fight about this. And I knew that I needed to be alone for a bit to process this, and I didn't want to explode on her. But... I could feel my heart cut in two. I remember stumbling over my words, and eventually getting out that I heard from God that I was going to be getting a new friend group anyways, and then her sighing in relief. And then me flopping my way out of the car, doing everything I could to stay completely flat faced until I got to my room.
And, while I have forgiven her and understood that God has had a purpose for it all and that things are better off for both of us eventually with this turn of events, I still hurt. It still makes me sad to think about how quickly such a deep friendship was thrown away. And how painful and agonizing it was to hear that I wasn't worth the effort. That I wasn't worth prioritizing. From the person who invited me over for Christmas and had me in their home more days than not.
It was honestly worse than any break up I've ever had.
And, I had hoped that maybe she just didn't want to be my best friend, or even a hanging out friend anymore, but that we could still be amicable acquaintances. As, well, we had a ton of history and knew all about one another. And, to be honest, I was fine stepping all the way back, if that made her more comfortable. So, when her birthday was a month later, I thought it was completely within my bounds to send her a quick "Happy Birthday! Hope you're doing well Praying for you!" text.
I got a wall of text that pretty much amounted to "never ever speak to me again. how dare you try to contact me." So, the rest of my time in this ministry group, I had to walk pins and needles around her. I stopped going to that church that I had really, really loved, because she had told me to never speak to her again and she had a position of power there. And I didn't want to bother her. We had mutual friends, and she would get mad at me for talking to them if she was also there. She started avoiding hangouts that she knew I was invited to. She started asking people to hang out while they would be out with me the moment she found out I was with them. And no one ever knew, because both of us kept silent. So... we kept getting compared and asked why we weren't hanging out or asked what the other was doing. And each time was a stab to the chest, because I didn't know how to tell them, "She randomly kicked me on a curb one day after church and told me to never speak to her again with absolutely zero explanation. And refuses to give me one." without them accusing me of starting drama or spreading rumors about her. Because, once again, I was always on the fringes of the group due to the fact that I would forever stand out.
Anyways, I tell you of this pain. Because that was how God answered my prayer.
To get me away from a friend group that was... meh. To get me away from relying on someone who did not want me to rely on them. To force a clean break so I didn't look back or try to divide my time. There was no way for me to misinterpret that end of friendship. It still hurts me, but there was no way for that to be misinterpreted.
So, after some time to mourn, I was able to get back up. Mainly because of that promise of new friends that God had given me. Of a group that wouldn't do me that that last one had.
Pretty much every good friend I made after that, I tried my best to see if I fit in their friend group. I would throw myself into every new group, see if things clicked. I tried to connect with everyone in the group, to see if I would be accepted. And, for each one that I tried, it would honestly work for a while.
But then, of course, something would happen. I would finally get to the point where I would really feel comfortable and stop being on edge and start thinking that I had finally found the group that God had set aside for me. And then it would fall apart. I would mess up in a way that they found inexcusable. They would mess up in a way I found inexcusable. I would realize that I wasn't a priority. I was being taken advantage of in some way. I was being minimized or waved off.
Regardless of what it was, something would happen.
I would leave the friendship group that I had thought I had been included in, and the pain would come back.
The need to find people. The need to have community. The need to be treated equally by those who purport to love me.
I searched and searched. And, to be honest, the search consumed me. If I wasn't searching for people to be that friend group, I was in a group and doing all I could to have them accept me fully. It was exhausting.
After a bit of this, God pretty much smacked me upside the head and told me to stop already. He was the one who had the friend group figured out. And He was going to make sure I found them. He had told me that to give me strength through the trials to come, but He knew I was going to be friends with them, I just needed to wait and see.
I cannot remember exactly how that message was given to me, but I do remember having that revelation suddenly (I seem to think it was in the middle of a Steak and Shake diner for some reason), and then practically collapsing from relief.
I stopped seeking. I still made friends, good friends. And I had people I could hang out with in a jiffy, but none that I would super consider to be like the most important people of my life. They were good for a season, but not life long. And I was kind of aware of that as these friendships were occurring. So, I made sure to learn what I needed to from them before I moved on to wherever it is that God needed me next.
During this time, I learned a lot about leaning on God, and on just flowing with Him. He would put the right people in my life at the right time. And take out people once they had run their course. And, would do so painfully if you didn't just let go and let Him take care of things. It was truly the beginning of me finally starting to understand what leaning on Him with all that you had meant, as well as trusting Him in all situations.
Eventually, the promise had even started to slip in my mind. Not completely forgotten, but not really a forefront. 'It'll happen when it happens.'
I eventually completely left that ministry group. I had stayed on to help a bit after I had graduated. But, through that time of learning how to trust in God and learning how to let things go, I realized that the group had run its course, and it was high time to leave it in the past. I had clung on as it was the thing that saved me back when, but it didn't want me around, and there is no reason to stay where you aren't wanted. So, I shook out my sandals at them and went on my way.
You know, I had assumed that that friendship group that God had mentioned would, at least, be Christian. And so, I had hung onto that group. Kept with them even when I was reviled, mistreated, and insulted. Not just by other members, but by the pastors. Tried to talk to them when issues would arise and nothing else seemed to work, as the Bible would tell me to do, and instead was rebuked and told that it was entirely on me and that I needed to get over myself. I was gaslit. Often. Was told I would be able to share my testimony, was led along by that as a carrot on a string for months, and then got it ripped away. With them then having the gall to ask me why on earth would I possibly get angry. That I was not justified in my aggravation, and me getting aggravated at being strung along was proof that I wasn't mature enough to share my story.
I started working at Target after I left. The overwhelming majority of my coworkers were not really believers.
And it was there that I finally found that group. The one I had been praying for all along.
People who have never failed to look out for me as I for them. People who have honored me. Who have prioritized me. Who have noticed what I have done, both in general and for them, and have called attention to it.
The best friends I could ever ask for.
A few people who I met along the way in my church group days have held on, but it's mainly been made up of people who didn't think would be the ones that God would have chosen for me.
But I am so glad that He has.
Since leaving that ministry group, I stayed in Indiana for another year. Then moved back to New England when my health got bad. Then moved to Florida to be with family when my health continued to worsen and my parents sold the house.
Practically no one from that ministry group has reached out to me, unless it was for a fundraiser or something.
Pretty much everyone from that cobbled together group that God made for me has checked up on my constantly and has kept up with me and has made plans to stay connected with me, despite all of the upheaval.
It took time for Him to get there, but He answered my prayer.
He gave me the real and earnest friends that I had been looking for.
I had just wanted to be accepted. To be respected. To be wanted.
And so, He took His time. Carefully created a group that was just perfect for me.
I was willing to settle for anyone. Even though settling for previous friend groups and previous relationships were what had caused me pain before.
But, no. God held out for me. And He got me exactly the people that I needed.
He took His time. He made sure it was right. And, along the way, I learned more about trusting God than I would have ever learned otherwise. I learned about rolling with the punches and keeping calm and focused on God through the pain. I learned how to process painful situations with God. I learned to be content with my life and with my current situation, no matter how drastic, without even blinking, as God had set it up so.
All to answer my prayer for deeper friends.
God is good.
But He doesn't always answer the prayers the way you want or the way that you anticipate.