I need to preface this story by disclosing a few things about me. First of all, I feel like my relationship with the Lord is solid. I started to type that I'm content with where He and I are, but I don't want to give you the impression that I don't want to draw closer, or that I'm not trying. Every relationship involving a human (in this case, me) has room for improvement. Still, I feel close to God: like we love one another, like we have an open dialogue.
The second thing I want to tell you is that, often, I'm uncomfortable with Christians who are (or seem) more zealous than I. I get fired up over Christians' facebook posts, sometimes, but for the most part, I'm talking about in-person interaction. I hate feeling cornered or pressured or, worst of all, insecure.
Finally, I'm very protective of my people. I would rather you hurt me than one of them, for sure. Not to digress, but I remember the first time I met one of my friend Rachel's sisters: how she looked at me with suspicion, how she sized me up. I remember laughing inside, knowing that sister would always be my favorite because--even though she didn't know it, yet--we shared a desire to protect Rachel.
Anyway, a few years ago, my mom made a couple new friends. Every time I talked to her the phone (she lives about eight hours away), she talked with excitement about these new friends, and it was obvious that she was growing very close to them very quickly. Even if her new friends had sounded exactly like my friends, I probably would've been a little uncomfortable because I'd always known my mom's friendships to develop slowly and over long periods of time.
But the fact of the matter is, these new friends didn't sound like any of my friends, any of my mom's old friends, or--to be honest--anyone I'd ever known, personally. They were involved in spiritual disciplines that were outside of my comfort zone, one of which was fasting for long periods of time. My mom told me that, for several weeks, she wanted to consume nothing but water and a little juice. She also told me she wanted to buy and learn to play a harp: not a mouth harp, not a hand-held harp, but an instrument so large it wouldn't fit in the trunk of her car.
I'm not going to lie: I was freaked out. I was afraid that my mom had lost her mind, that she was being manipulated by these people, or both, and I told her so. I also expressed concern to a couple of other family members who were of little comfort because they, too, were taken aback by the whole situation.
No doubt about it: my mom was definitely behaving out of character. I was worried about her. I started to pray, and I felt like the Lord answered me. I didn't like His words at all, but I heard them very clearly (and, to be honest, pretty loudly): "BACK OFF."
I apologized to my mom for giving her a hard time and told her about my experience with the Lord. She laughed with delight. She couldn't see me, but--on the other end of the phone--I'd crossed my arms in front of me and rolled my eyes.
I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.
(The rest of the story to follow. My mom doesn't like that, in my last post, I described her friend as "creepy-cool." I'm guessing it isn't the "cool" part that bothers her. But, look: Merriam-Webster defines creepy as "producing a nervous shivery apprehension," and that describes her friend perfectly!, so I'm sticking with it.)