Lori walked into the room wearing a green business suit, legs up to her neck, thick brown hair, and a face that says two things: I’ve been there and I’m worth it.
I knew at once: she had what I wanted.
After talking to my friends and gaining a little courage, I approached her after a meeting. When I asked if she’d like to talk, the first thing she said was, “Let’s pray about it.”
Writing a Care of God List
It wasn’t long before Lori’s number in my cell phone was on the most-called (or texted) list. When I needed guidance working through a situation, I reached out. When my mind swirled like a gulf stream with obsessive or destructive thinking, I asked for help. During the most monumental joys in my recovery: getting married and then getting pregnant (with twins!), she glided alongside me, an elegant swan, while I floundered—but just a little bit less—because she was there. Gracefully, she shared her experience, strength, and hope.
At a certain point in our mentor-type relationship, she encouraged me to write a care of God list. This took some explaining. I understood what care was certainly. And at the time I wanted to think I understood God just a little bit, but what did it mean to put it all together? Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous states that we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
She explained to me what her own mentor had encouraged her to do many years ago:
“Sit down and find a quiet place. Then think back. Write a list all of the times in your life that God showed up. All the times that the care of God was, and is, evident.”
My first thought: “This is going to be a long list.”
I followed her direction and snuggled in to my favorite sunny spot in my favorite quiet room at just the right hour of the day. The hour when the light through the trees hits just so. Even if it isn’t, the room feels warmer because of the brightness. Words cartwheeled onto the page. Images like the pages of a photograph album flipping through so many of the events of my life: my parent’s divorce, my grandfather’s death, sexual assault and addiction. My footprints-in-the-sand moments.
And the joyful moments, too: graduating college, falling in love, being of service. Trees of life that grow and flourish.
I read this list aloud—and more—to my mentor and she nodded silently and smiled.
She has a list, too.
A Time to Remember
I’d like to blame my poor memory on “mom brain” or “Covid fog” or even smoking a little too much pot during my teens and early twenties. The truth is (while all of these things might be true) the answer is simple: I’m human. Just like the Israelites back in the day, I don’t always remember my list or the countless ways that God showed up. The Israelites were a stubborn people, as related in the Old Testament. They had been helped by God again and again, spared despite their overt rebellion, yet time and time again they wandered.
Time and time again. Even when I don’t deserve it—and often—especially when I don’t deserve it, God swoops down with his infinite mercy and forgiving grace.
God has shown up for me. He shows up every day. He has gently cared for me during the brokenness of life, with all its thorns and trials and grief—and also during the marvelous parts: the love and tenderness and mercy.
This New Year, do your sweet self a loving favor: write a care of God list of your own. Then, when the newness of a fresh start wears off and trouble comes your way (as it most assuredly will), you will have this grace-filled reminder. No matter what, God is there. And oh, how he cares for you!
“Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.” Psalm 66:16
Want to learn more about the God who cares so much for you? You’ll love this podcast episode: Who Is God Really? with Christian Bevere – 169