It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. I was staying in on-campus housing for my job that summer. I vividly remember sitting on my assigned twin bed. My tiny room (shared with a roommate) in my cramped apartment (shared with five other girls) was a fitting metaphor for how I felt; I was surrounded by people and yet I felt utterly alone and completely boxed in.
God had abandoned me. At least that's how I felt. Every prayer it seemed hit the ceiling and bounced right back: Return to Sender, This Person Doesn't Want to Talk to You. I was spiritually dry. I spent 35 hours a week telling people that God loved them and yet I wasn't sure I believed it myself. God, if He existed at all, couldn't be bothered to notice me, I thought. I was under attack. If only God could ascend from the heavens for a brief moment to tell me He remembered me and that I was still loved.
My then boyfriend (now husband) was over seas and unreachable and my parents, though just a phone call away, I (wrongly) thought just wouldn't understand. Nobody knew—not my family, friends, or anyone at the ministry I worked at—that I was experiencing the greatest faith crisis of my life.
I remember it all came to a head one night while visiting my parents. I tearfully told them I didn't think I was a Christian anymore. I was almost too ashamed to look my very-spiritually-all-together father in the eye. I'll never forget the way he looked at me and told me that he and my mom still loved me and always would. I drove home that night not exactly feeling better, but at least assured that if even if my Heavenly Father had abandoned me, my earthly family never would.
It was a few weeks later when God—the God I wasn't sure even existed—showed up. I remember it was a Tuesday. I got a text message from Brooklynn, a dear friend of mine, who had no clue what I was going through. We hadn't even spoken in a few months, but the message she sent me was exactly what I needed to hear. She wrote almost as if she knew. I knew in that moment that God was speaking to me through Brooklynn, reminding me that He loved me and He was there with me.
The spiritual dryness didn't go away and wouldn't for a few years, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that my God loved me. He didn't show up in the dramatic way I wanted, but He spoke to me in a way that was unmistakably Him.
If you are struggling with feeling like God isn't there or has abandoned you altogether, I want to encourage you to reach out to someone. You might be pleasantly surprised by their reaction.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. -Ecclesiastes 4:12
Don't give up. Don't give up on prayer. Don't give up on God, because He hasn't given up on you. Even if it doesn't feel like He's there, He has not abandoned you. I promise.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. -Deuteronomy 31:6