I haven't read something so timely needed in my life as the article that I just read and have shared at the bottom of these thoughts. I had just finished reading about the birth of Samson in Judges 13 and then about the nameless woman that was Samson's mother. A companion study book, that my roommate brought home one day, profiles more than 400 women in the Bible, Manoah's wife, Samson's mother, being one of them. The author writes on how this woman was many things, including being a disappointed woman because of her barrenness. A privileged woman because she was visited by an angel of the Lord. She was a Godly woman because she was a humble Israelite and described as faithful, self-sacrificing, holy, and "must have had a life corresponding to the separated character of the son she was to bear..." She was a happy woman because her prayers were answered as Samson came to be. But, she was also a sorrowful woman because of the way her son turned out.
I keep going back to what she was like as a Godly woman, because that is ultimately something that I strive to be. The author of this companion book points out that there is "no record of complaint or impatience over her childless state." In fact, I think she probably prayed a lot. Constantly, maybe. In return, "her prayer lightened the burden of her loneliness and sustained her patience. As a God-fearing Israelite, she had faith that He would answer her prayer."
So much do I see myself in this nameless woman, of the desire to have something that is yet to be. Yet, where she was strong and faithful in her praying to God, believing that He would answer, I am weak and lacking. My prayers are more cries and tantrums during fits of anger and loneliness. My first thought is often not to pray, but to turn my face and walk away from the Lord. But, what a lesson to learn from this nameless woman on faith and prayer. Constant and faithful prayer, when combined with the belief that God will answer, is life-changing. This woman's praying "lightened the burden of her loneliness." Yes, she had the companionship of her husband, but her heart was now naturally desiring a child. And the lack of that, her barrenness, created a new feeling of loneliness that only a child was going to fill. Yet, she believed and had faith that God would answer, so her constant prayer "sustained her patience." We don't know how old she was, so we can't be sure of how long she had been fighting this loneliness of being barren or how long she had been waiting for a child after her marriage began. But, anyone who desires something so deeply within their heart and is living without it, whether that be a spouse, a new job, or a family, will probably tell you that even one day, is one day too many without it.
The days kept passing and the nights still came. She was still without a child, but her patience only grew stronger because of her constant prayer and belief that God was hearing her. The moon would rise and the sun would set, but she never stopped believing that her prayer would go unheard. She must have believed that his mercies are new every day and that joy comes in the morning, because one day, many prayer-filled days later, her patience and faithfulness were rewarded. She had a son, Samson. And while her son lived a life that sometimes led him astray from the Lord and caused her sorrow, she knew he was her blessing, her answered prayer. And her story gives us an example that while God does indeed hear our prayers, the answers may not always turn out how we expect them to. But, no matter what the answer, we can expect the Lord to be glorified.
I never thought much about marriage or having a family when I was a teenager or even in college really. It wasn't until I graduated and eventually became settled in a job that those two dreams, those prayers, started coming into the light. Small whispers of what the future could look like. But then, the loneliness hit. The loneliness of turning twenty-seven and watching your friends get married and start their families. Of watching your friends get pets together, take vacations, get promotions, and buy a house. Those small whispers became loud screams of anger and questioning why it wasn't my turn yet. What did I need to do? What did I need to change? Who did I need to be?
On Manoah's wife and Samson's mother, the nameless woman, Herbert Lockyer said: "Barren though the nameless wife she was, she was yet believing."
I need to pray. I need to throw away my unbelief that the Lord isn't hearing me. I need to be more like the faithful woman that Samson's mother was. I need my prayer to lighten my burden and strengthen my patience. I need to not let loneliness win. I need to stop pushing it away and acting like it isn't something I feel. I need to see that my singleness isn't something that needs fixing. I need to believe this article below.
But most importantly, I need to believe that the Lord is good. That He hears my prayers. That His mercies are new every day. That joy comes in the morning.
When I first went off to college, I knew a total of two people at The University of Alabama. Making friends seemed like the most daunting task and a part of me knew that the only way I would make friends was if the Lord directly put them in my path. I joined a church, got involved in their college ministry, and became a part of a Bible study. It was a small group, me and another freshman, and our two upperclassmen leaders. We were the smallest of all groups, a trend that would continue all of my years, even as I became a leader. But, those three girls came into my life at the most perfect and proper time. I would build a lot of memories with those girls, but especially with one of them in particular.
She wasn't just my Bible study leader, but in a way my mentor and my confidant. She introduced me to The Office, fed my Mexican food addiction, sat with me in the corner of Barnes and Noble, and became a kid again whenever we found a playground. There were countless talks in parking lots, lots of cheering at football games, and numerous sleepovers. Where she was, I usually wasn't far behind. Where I was, she usually wasn't far behind. She was my best friend.
I know that time changes, things change, and people change, but friendships can and do last through all of that. Ours however, didn't last. It wasn't necessarily because either of us changed, but we instead just stopped. For me, jealousy, fear, and pride got in the way. I could see our relationship slowly fading away, but instead of saying words to fight for it, I stayed quiet. Hard-headed, determined, and prideful I quit the friendship. Looking back, it seemed to happen suddenly. One day she was there and the next she wasn't. And just like that, six years went by.
Six years of silence.
There were many times in those six years that I thought about her. I knew that she was now married, had children, was happy. I had graduated college, moved away from home and then back again, and had gotten my first full-time job after college. Never did I get to celebrate any of it with her. The person I would have texted or called first in any situation, was lost somewhere in the silence of six years. She was walking her life and I was walking mine.
During those six years, there were times I thought about reconnecting. I thought about sending a message to see how she was. To see if any form of friendship still remained, but I never did. I believed the lies that too much time had passed, that she was over it and had moved on, that it wasn't worth it. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to ask for. Oh, but friends, how sweet and necessary forgiveness is! I didn't want pride to be my pitfall. I wanted to choose peace instead of pride.
So, after six years of silence, I decided to break it. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to ask for, but when you do, reconciliation comes. The longer the years pass, the harder it will be; but the outcome may be much sweeter than you ever realized. The words that were always so hard to find, the pain remembered every time you tried to write them, the memories that were had to relive; all those thoughts, all the feelings may just be mutual over there on the other side. You will only know if you are brave enough to say them. First to the Lord, then to yourself, and next to your friend. The dear, sweet friend that was always by your side.
In the book Wild and Free, Hayley Morgan writes about how we have become caged by our own limitations. One of those limitations is being caught in the shame cycle. She tells the story of a friendship that withered away because she refused to forgive. A story that hit me way too close to home. She eventually confronted her friend and discovered that she had felt the same way! Forgiveness may not always look like this, but I'm so glad to say that for me and my friend it did. My friend expressed that she also had wanted to say something, but she was afraid it was too late and then didn't know what to say. Although this time comes six years later, I'm so thankful that it wasn't twelve years later or, sadly, never. And now, like Hayley and her friend, "we get to experience the gospel goodness of forgiveness; we get to be in fellowship with our Father and with each other; and we're both braver for the next time hurt or shame arises."
Ignore the six year silence that has lived between you. Focus now on the words you want to say and where you want to begin again. Send the message, speak the words in faith; knowing you have bravely said what you wanted to say so many times before. Thank the Lord for giving you the courage, the boldness to speak in truth. And then, watch the Lord work His wonders. Watch Him mend the brokenness that seemed to crumble so easily. Experience firsthand the power of forgiveness. Watch the silence of six years slowly be filled with words of healing. Watch a sweet friendship slowly come back into view. Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and experience again how a friendship refreshes the soul(Proverbs 27:9).
Whether you're the one who needs forgiving or you're holding back your forgiveness from someone else, you need to bring that junk into the light. If you need forgiveness from someone, go and ask them. Bring yourself low and step into the light, knowing that Jesus is right there with you. Confess your yuck and ask forgiveness for the sin you committed and for the pain you caused. There is nothing like the freedom that comes from confession and repentance. -- Hayley Morgan, Wild and Free
Do you like confrontation or is that something you run away from? Have you ever let a relationship drift away, because pride or fear held you back? Fear is not found in love. But, there is freedom in forgiveness.
I pray that if you are searching for that, you will find it.
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