Marco! Polo!

God, where are you?

I remember the first time I asked Him that. I was 6 years old, laying in my bed listening to my biological mother and her live in boyfriend argue in the next room over. By this time, I had been able to distinguish the type of argument that would end in silence or in the need for the police to be called. As I strained my ears to listen in on their exchange, I whispered to God, “Where are you?” There didn’t seem to be an answer and the noise next store continued to escalate. Part of me wishing they’d kill each other and let me have some peace. It was at that point, with my heart beating hard against my chest, that I slid out of bed and tip toed out the front door. In the middle of the night, I stood at my neighbors door in my nightgown and asked them to call the police.

This type of thing happened more times than I could remember. The last time being on Christmas Eve, when I was 12. I lived in a constant state of fear, waiting with anxious anticipation for the next fight. As a little girl, I thought up ways to kill myself wondering if that was the only way I’d get some peace. I needed an escape. I needed to be rescued.

And that’s exactly what happened. In the middle of my freshman year in high school, my mom and her new boyfriend were moving out of state. I saw it as my chance to get out and I did. When most teenage girls are deciding what movie to watch with their friends or what boy is the cutest in their class– I was telling my mother I was moving out. The conversation didn’t go “well”. Both her and my grandmother, threw insults and guilt at me in rapid fire motion as I sat at the kitchen table silent and immovable on my decision. By a miracle of God, she relented and within 3 days, I was packed up and moved in with my aunt and uncle 4-hours away from my hometown, but feeling safer and more loved than I ever had before.

I loved going swimming when I was a kid. I’d spend hours in the pool with friends as we made pool “tornadoes” and practiced our belly flopping form. Then, there was of course, the game of Marco Polo. Essentially, Marco Polo is a game of Hide & Seek and Tag kinda rolled into one. One person closes their eyes and yells “Marco!” and waits for the other person to respond with “Polo!”– all of this an attempt to reveal their location to you so you can tag them. With any game, there are ways for each person to cheat. The person with their eyes closed, trying to sneak a peak out of the slivers of their eyelids. The other person, whispering “polo” and going into pool stealth mode doing whatever they can to not make a splash or a ripple in the water. The game usually ends with a quick transition to pool wrestling as one kid gets frustrated at not being able to tag the other. At least, that’s what I always did.

Today, I found myself asking God again, “Where are you?”, as I have time and time again. My eyes closed, my hands grasping just to reach Him. I desperately call out, “God!!” and frantically try to find Him. He seems distant. Quiet. Unreachable.

Looking back on past hurtful experiences I find myself asking with an accusatory tone, “God, Where WERE you? If there is a God, why didn’t you do something? Why were you silent? Why did you let me go through that?” It’s in this place, that many people get discouraged. They find themselves questioning God and His ways and when they realize they’d NEVER be able to figure Him out they decide to give up.

As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may not be able to understand the ways of God, but I can trust His character. You see I realized, while I’m there yelling at God “Where are you?!?!” He’s calling out, “Right here.” He’s not sadistic, trying to hide Himself from me. He’s there. Very much present.

I’ve often leaned on Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” I’ve been in over my head about ready to drown. I’ve felt the heat of the fire on my skin wondering if I’d be consumed. But never once, was I in it alone.

That night, at the age of 6, laying in my bed– He was there. As I tip toed out the front door– He was there. Outside my neighbors house, barefoot and cold– He was there. At the age of 13, being berated and belittled for making a wise choice– He was there. At the age of 22, seeing the man I loved in a casket along with my dreams–He was there. Or today, feeling the pressure of an unexpected financial burden– He is here.

No. This doesn’t really answer any “Why” question. I know that. But for me, having the “Where” question has made the most difference. Wherever you are, whatever you are going through– or have gone through– know you never went through it alone. Never once was your prayer unheard. Your tears unnoticed. He’s there.

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15 thoughts on “Marco! Polo!

  1. Holly, thank you for sharing i think others need to hear that. Because in each of our lives at one point or another wether 3, 6, 12, 20, 25, 40, 52…100 you get it, we’ve all asked “where is God”?, and wether we knew that God was with us, he always has been and we’ve all longed to be loved, protected, safe, encouraged, heard, hugged, that comes from God. Even though it’s hard keep sharing girl, it’s part of your testimony. He takes those places we can’t understand “why” and weaves them into the tapestry of our story, to make us stronger, help others, makes us more like Jesus. In fact i was just realizing not long ago more places in my own life that God allowed me to be like him, not to single us out or watch us struggle. But think of these “hards” as places we have in common with the Jesus and how he felt, and we find we have more in common with each other, i can identify with you Holly. It just makes you that much more sweet in is fragrance, and knowing him so intimately makes you want to draw closer to his heart, and hear his voice. You love your “daddy” and he love you! 🙂 Keep sharing your life and your heart….it matters! Love your post it’s bold but we need to be bold for others to hear:) Love ya, Holly
    Your a super special person

    • Thank you for always being an encouraging, Life giving friend to me, Sara. I’ve often come to the conclusion that I’d relive any hurt, any pain, any frustration as long as it could be used to bring people closer to Him. I’ve seen it do just that. It’s hard being “exposed”, but its all part of it. Not ashamed of my story, but thankful that it points me back to Jesus every time.

  2. My heart is in my throat! I know where you were and where you have come from. You, describing the feelings, brought them right back. The constantly feeling like you were walking on egg shells and what would happen. Would you have to be the person to stop it. But secretly wishing it would all just go away. The pit in your stomach…knowing what was coming…! You will be just fine and never forget…you are NEVER alone! Much Love, respect, and prayers!

    • Thank you for your encouragement! It’s not “fun” to remember, but the vividness hasn’t faded all these years later. But knowing also the vividness of God’s presence and looking back knowing He was there.

  3. Such precious and true words. I can’t wait to learn more about you and your story. I have always been aware that when I don’t feel Him, it’s me who’s moved. But to me the most painful days are those when I feel Him holding me and beg for relief and He stays quiet- still holding me tight, but not stopping what’s around me. This morning I yelled at Him. I told Him I can’t take this one certain situation any longer. I just heard Him waiting for me, to hold me. I don’t know why the pain isn’t taken, and have to constantly remind myself that even as much as I love my children I won’t take away every pain I even can, because sometimes they need the growth or need to learn from it.

    Anita
    #startexp

    • I can relate–I yell at God often. Not in a disrespectful way, but in “This is freakin’ killing me” type way. His ears are open to the cries of His children. I believe that. And you’re right, He does hold you, Anita. Thank God, He holds us.

    • I can’t tell you how much your comment meant to me. And I mean that genuinely. As soon as I read it, my heart kinda broke knowing that I was doing what I was meant to do. To share my story. Thank you!

  4. Oh, Holly. Your words are such a needed reminder and such a life-breathing gift for this girl who has also been on a very long search to find the One thing that was always right in front of her.

    Closer than the whisper of His name, He is always there. Praying that that you will find courage in knowing that YOUR story is His one of his greatest stories, that the words you share in such beautiful and vulnerable ways will give others the strength and the encouragement that they need to stop looking for God and to actually see Him.

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