I needed spiritual enlightenment.
I mean, I was seriously struggling. God seemed far away. My mind knew that he was there, but my heart felt abandoned. And it seemed like, if He was there, He didn’t care much for me.
Do you know that friend, in elementary school, that you had only when you needed them? You kept them around for desperate situations. Like, if all your other friends were busy or on vacation, then you would hang out. They were the friend you talked to when none of your other friends were around. Maybe you were that friend — the sometimes friend. Being that friend is not much fun. It feels like no matter what you do for your “cooler” friend, they will never like you as much as they like their “cooler” friends. You will always be their sometimes friend.
That’s the way I felt with God. It felt like no matter what I did and what I said, He was only there sometimes. He seemed to like all those “cooler” people better. He showered them with blessings and always seemed to be guiding their paths. When I was here stumbling through the dark and grasping for something to keep me from falling.
My head knew something that my heart didn’t want to admit yet, though. My head knew that God was always there for me. My head was certain that He would “not leave [me] comfortless” (John 14:18). My head knew that all I needed to do was ask him. Because my head knew the scripture, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). My heart knew it once, too.
But this time I was hurt. I wanted Him to come to me just because He knew I was in pain. I wanted to be rescued. I got very close to insisting a very dramatic solution. If that required my wandering from His path, then so be it. I needed Him to prove to me that I was worth it. I wanted to know that I mattered to Him. I didn’t want to be the sometimes friend anymore.
Here’s the thing: I wasn’t His sometimes friend. He was mine. He turned into my sometimes friend when I stopped praying to Him consistently. He changed into my sometimes friend when I read my scriptures (or not) and didn’t take the time to ponder and study them. He became my sometimes friend when I dreaded going to church on Sunday. Little by little, I let my attitude and actions make Him a stranger to me — which explains my irrational thinking and total misjudgment of His character.
Lucky for me, He is full of grace. And He never did leave. I befriended him by studying his words in the scriptures, earnestly praying for guidance and comfort and answers. Instead of reading verse after verse without processing the words, I began to study by topic. I let His spirit guide my study. Whatever topics latched onto my mind and heart, I studied.
First, I read about the phrase “Come unto Me.” Then, the story pictured above. You can see a video of it here. Basically, there is a woman with an “issue of blood.” Year after year, she is sick. She searches for cures from all the best physicians. She spends all her money. Yet, 12 years later, not only is she still sick, she is actually worse off than before. (Tell me you haven’t felt like this before — especially all you amazing women who are unsuccessfully trying to conceive.) This woman, with great faith, “came behind him [Jesus]” (Luke 8:44, Mark 5:2, Matthew 9:20) and said that if she can just touch His clothes, she will be made whole again. She will be healed. So she touches His clothes. And immediately the sickness she had dealt with for 12 years disappears.
First, I find it interesting that the woman came behind Him. That means she followed Him, right? And, unlike me, she wasn’t throwing a pity party or making a dramatic scene. No, she just knew that if she followed Him and got close enough to touch His clothes, she would be healed. She was sick for 12 years and had every right to be bitter, sad, disappointed and angry. But she wasn’t. She chose to follow Him. And because of that choice, she was healed. Because of her faith, in combination with her closeness to the Savior, she was made whole.
I must choose to follow Him, too. And not just from afar. I need to get close enough to Him to touch His clothes.
You know what happens next in the story? It’s so cool. The woman touches Jesus’ clothes when they are in a crowded city street. She touches His clothes and is completely healed. Jesus says “Who touched me?” The apostles look around at each other and the busy city street and answer, “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou who touched me?” (Luke 8:45). In other words, there are people all around. We’re getting pushed every which way. How can you ask who touched you? But, guess what? Jesus noticed her. Among all those people in the street, He noticed her pain and her faith and her healing. This story is recorded in a few places in the Bible, but my favorite is recorded in Luke, chapter 8, simply because of this verse: “And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately” (Luke 8:47).
She was not hid. She was not hid. She was not hid.
And neither am I.
Though the woman in this story is nameless to you and me, she is not nameless to Him. History does not know her (but for this brief recorded moment), but He knows her. The crowd — and even the apostles — did not see her, but He saw her.
And now that I see I am not hid, I will “Come unto [him, for I] labour and [am]heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28). I will do all in my power to draw closer to Him that, one day, even if that day is 12 or more years away, he might say, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22).