The Imaginary Friend

I have this friend. Want to meet her? She’s really nice. Although she’s a bit shy, and I’m a bit shy, so I won’t tell you her real name. We’ll call her Lucy, after Lucy from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I think she’d like that.

Lucy is one of the few people I’ve met who think in the shapes and patterns as I do. She shares my dreams, my crazy and out-there vision, and she gets it implicitly, without much explanation, when I tell her the deep and secret things of my heart. And because of that I think I’ve told her a lot of things I’ve never told anyone else. I like that. It’s comforting. She lives a long way away, so we usually just chat via email, or on Facebook, but even though she’s a long way away I know she’s there, that she’s there for me, and that sense of “presence” is comforting.

I jokingly refer to her as my “imaginary friend”, partly because she shares the same name as my childhood imaginary friend, and partly because it’s fun to pretend that, because I’ve only met her in person once and because she fills that hole in my life of people-who-think-in-those-strange-shapes-and-patterns-as-I-do-and-share-my-vision, that I’ve just invented her in my head, you know, because I needed someone like her.

And yesterday, quaking over some deep and nameless terror, wiping tears from my cheeks, I emailed her again, and knowing she was there, and that she’d understand, made me feel better. And then I laughed to myself, thinking “she’s a crutch”. I’m just resting a while on my imaginary friend because I need a bit of support. It’s a season. I won’t always need to rely on my imaginary friend. I’ll get over it.

The thing is though, Lucy is real. She’s flesh-and-blood and skin and feeling and thought and life and person. She just lives a long way away.

The things is, too, the big thing that I realised yesterday, that this is how a lot of people see God.

I know I won’t always be in this season, and that’s okay. And it’s okay that I am. And Lucy’s okay with me. But still I choose, and will continue to choose, that at that time in the future when I no longer need Lucy in my life the way that I do now, that we will still be friends, and I will still email her every now and again, even though she lives far away, too far away to see. Because, really, it’s not about a crutch, it’s about relationship.

What about you? Do you have any “imaginary” friends? Do you think God is a crutch, or do you know people who do?