If you were anything like me as a child, you probably found yourself talking to and playing with imaginary friends at some point during your early years. I don’t remember much about mine, but what I do remember is that there were two of them, and to me they were anything but imaginary. We would have full-on conversations and play dates, and I wouldn’t allow my mom to leave my room every night until she had included them in our bedtime routine. They were so real to me.
This morning I was driving down the road and began to pour my heart out before the Lord. At one point I was [figuratively] slapped in the face with the absolute ridiculousness of what I was doing. Here I was driving down the road all alone in the dark at six in the morning, talking to an invisible person… I looked and felt ridiculous.
The Lord responded by taking me back about 17 years to my early childhood. As I said earlier, I had two imaginary friends when I was a kid. They were my buds. They were always there, ready to listen when I needed to talk, ready to play when I was bored, eager to love and accept me for me… In a moment, my mind was flooded with memories and thoughts of those old pals of mine.
Fast forward to this morning… As I internally and verbally processed this memory, I was struck with the beauty of childlikeness. And not only that – the need for childlikeness. Jesus told us that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we have to become like a child (Matt. 18:3). I believe this can and does have numerous applications, but this morning I saw it in a way I never had before. I realized how, in my *mature* adult mind, talking to an invisible person like they’re really there is completely outrageous, makes no sense at all, and honestly seems just plain dumb. I walk around saying that I want to be a friend of Jesus, yet I so often neglect the simplicity of talking to Him like I talk to any of my friends because it kinda looks and feels funny. When I was a kid, the last thing I was thinking about when I interacted with my invisible friends was how ridiculous I looked and sounded to anyone who wasn’t inside my imaginary world. To me they were just as real and present as anyone else. Why don’t I approach talking to my closest Friend like that?
If I’m really honest with myself, most of the time I relate to and interact with Him nothing like I interact with my other friends. I approach time with Him as more of a duty than something to look forward to and enjoy; I filter and edit my conversations with Him because I’m “praying,” and somewhere along the line I got this crazy idea that prayer needs to look and sound like some polished, sterile monologue; I’m quick to move time with Him off of my calendar to make time for my non-invisible friends…. In reality, I’m far from walking my talk (ouch).
I want my invisible Friend to be as real to me as the ones I had years ago. Just like them, He’s always there, He’s always ready (and eager) to listen when I need to talk, He wants to spend time and have fun with me, He’s loves and enjoys me…
I’m so done with treating Jesus like someone other than my Friend. If I say that He’s my friend, I’ve gotta start living like He is. I can’t expect to grow in relationship with Him if I don’t talk to Him, make time for Him, ask Him questions, and listen for His responses. Today I’m signing up again to actively pursue friendship with the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and I want to invite you to do the same.