Updated: Oct 30, 2019
I was 13 years old, and I was in my green and gold junior high cheerleader uniform. My mom was driving me around in our very large, green Ford van. You know, the one with the bed in the back, bucket seats, and a box TV on the floor? It was fancy. I was not embarrassed one bit.
As a cheerleader, we were responsible for selling ads for the football program in order to raise the money we needed for cheer stuff. Some of my friends’ parents sold their ads for them, but not my mom. She made me- shy, scared to talk to strangers me- go into these businesses and ask people to buy an ad from me. It was the worst. For real.
This particular day in the summer, my mom was driving me around in that green van to sell ads. She stopped to get gas, and she sent me into the store to get something. When I came out, the big green van with my mom in it was gone. And I was standing there in my cheer uniform, surrounded by strangers in a store, alone.
This was a time before kids had cell phones, friend. And I don’t even remember my mom having a phone at that point. If she did, she barely used it.
So I had to sit outside that convenient store, and I had to wait on her to come back for me.
It took longer than expected. I sat there for what felt like forever. I was angry, confused. But really, it was this overwhelming feeling of being forgotten, abandoned.
Something in me knew she would not leave me there forever, that she would come back to find me… But this nagging voice in my head said, “What if she doesn’t?” Who will come for me? Who will find me? Will I have to walk three miles back home for her to know I was missing? What if I get kidnapped?”
After a while, I looked up and saw that green van pull back into the parking lot at the convenient store. I have no memory of crying or saying much at all to my mom. She was very upset, but I remember not feeling much of anything.
The feeling of being forgotten almost made me… numb. It was strange.
Hearing my mom’s account of this story now makes up laugh, but it was not funny for me then. Not one bit.
She says that she thought I got back into the van, and she was talking to me all the way down the highway. At some point, she thought, “Why isn’t Kerrah answering me? “Why is she ignoring me?” It was then she realized her mistake.
She still feels bad about that.
But as I have gotten older, I have realized one major thing about myself. The thing that triggers me, hurts me more than anything else in the world is this: being abandoned or forgotten.
And listen, don’t throw my mom under the bus. She did not forget me. Or she would have never returned for me. That story did not scar me for life, at least I don’t think it did.
It is just one actual incident in my life that happened when I felt abandoned.
Once a visiting pastor sat with me in a room of other leaders/pastors from our church. We were meeting with him to pray with me because I was having awful, repetitive nightmares. Instead of beginning to pray for my nightmares, he said, “I think you may be holding unforgiveness in your heart.” At first, I was thinking, “This dude is cookoo. How dare he?” But then I started crying, writing down names of people I had not forgiven over the years.
Guess what the theme was of each person, each incident? The feeling that he or she forgot me, abandoned me.
Some people have said I am a very loyal friend. At least, I have become this way more over the years. I was not always like this. I think I am so loyal now because I don’t ever want someone to feel abandoned like that. I don’t want them to feel forgotten.
You know what is interesting, too, a lot of Christians (and non-Christians) have felt abandoned by God.
Oh, am I allowed to say that out loud?
Yes, friend. It is true. And you may know this feeling all too well.
David feels this and prays this in such a heartbreaking way in Psalm 22, which Jesus quotes on the cross.
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.
22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet[b]— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued[c] me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted[d] shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 28 For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
David genuinely felt abandoned by God, y'all. And he told him that. And it was OK.
He said all the things, asked all the questions.
And as he did this, he started remembering truth about God and even praising Him while he felt abandoned. We see a shift. A reorientation.
We see David remember that God, in fact, has not actually abandoned him.
He remembered that God had taken care of his people.
And he remembered that God had not hidden his face from David, either.
"For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him."
Sometimes our feelings can tell us truth or point us to much-needed action, but sometimes our feelings tell us a lie.
A lie like this: "God has forgotten you. He has abandoned you."
You have gone through horrific abuse and wondered where God was in all of that, why he did not stop it.
You are drowning in medical bills, unable to pay them, and wonder why God hasn't come through for you.
You are battling a terrible disease and wonder why God is not protecting you from harm.
You have lost a family member in a tragic way too soon and wonder why God did not step in.
You can't seem to beat your crippling anxiety or depression and wonder why God won't deliver you.
Though I may not fully have an answer to these things, I know one thing. My God promises to never leave or forsake us. He never promises a suffering-free life. BUT He does promise to never leave us alone in it. (Deuteronomy 31:6-8)
And sometimes he shows up in ways that we did not expect. Or even ways that we wanted.
I bet the Israelites felt abandoned by God while enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. But guess what, God rescued them. He did not forget them, even when they thought He had. Their deliverance came in God's time, not theirs, BUT IT CAME. (Exodus 2:24, 6:5, Deuteronomy 4:31, Luke 1:72)
When you feel forgotten by God, tell Him. Tell Him all the things. Yell. Cry. Just say it to Him.
And then let Him remind you that He will not forget you. He has tattooed your name on the palms of his hands. (Isaiah 49:16) He has not. He will not forget you. And He will not abandon you.
Consider the ways He has already shown up for you. When you are able to see these things, you will see that He will continue to do it.
Where are you?
Where have you been?
I can't seem to find you,
Your light in this dark.
Will you show me your light?
Will you show me your face?
I need to know that you are near,
That you have not forgotten me.
I know your promises.
I know that you will remember me.
I know that you won't leave me.
Help me remember that when I can't see you.
When I can't feel you.
In Jesus' Name,
Creative Journaling Prompt
In one column, write the situations (current or past) when you have not felt God near or were not able to see where God was moving.
Then in the second column, write down when you have seen him move. Write every thing you can think of. No matter how small it seems.