My son Clay enjoyed wake boarding at camp this year, so upon his return, we purchased a morning of wake boarding at a water park as a birthday gift. Instead of a boat, though, a cable pulled him through the water. Because he needed to adjust to wake boarding with a cable, he went with another kid to practice at a different portion of the facility. The other mother and I stood there unsure of whether to go or stay when one of the teenagers who worked there looked at the boys and said, “we got you.” In that moment, I realized I’d heard that statement a lot this summer from other young people. This variation of “I’ve got your back” often comes out of their mouths as “igotchu.” For example, at restaurants I’ve had more than one waiter say, “I got you” when I asked for a menu item or a refill.
I like the recent uptick in the use of this phrase. When someone says, “I got you,” they convey an air of confidence. They know how to do the task at hand or can access what another needs or wants. The speaker tells the other person that they will take care of them and that they will act as a backstop of sorts. They will provide comfort and help when needed.
We all want someone to stand in the gap for us when we feel lost or untethered. But sometimes we face dilemmas that we think no other person will understand. We may not want to admit our true feelings or concerns to another. Honesty with someone else may seem impossible when we can’t first be honest with ourselves. The possibility of rejection may make us afraid to confess our failings or anxieties. We may become defensive and build up our walls so that no one will find out the pain we hide. When we think that no one has got us, the isolation is real and hurtful.
And sometimes, we feel that God hasn’t got us either. The peace and comfort we want doesn’t arrive in a timely fashion, and we may doubt that we will ever be better again. When we worry that God has abandoned us, the grief is deep and the silence deafening. We may find ourselves shutting down emotionally with God as well because we question whether God is in the struggle with us. We can build walls with God just like we do with other people.
Even though we may not feel God’s presence at times, God is still with us. A familiar but favorite passage of mine captures God’s promise to never leave us:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 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…. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; … Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:1-2, 5, 18-19.
God will bring us out of the spiritually depleted season eventually. We must hang on to our faith when we are in the dry, arid desert emotionally and mentally. One way God provides a path forward is through other people. We may be consumed by isolation, but rest assured almost everyone has been there. We have all felt lost and disconnected from other people and from God. We can reach out to others for their support and encouragement, confident that they’ve most likely traveled this same road. Then, those people can repeat the words that God wants us to believe every single day, even in the hard times – “I got you.”