I just wrote this post tonight to vent my feelings – without a lot of editing … Feelings, which are swirling around in my brain and beg to be written down & sorted out. This is a true story … and I don’t really need sympathy. I’m just making a point … and yes, we probably need to find a new church soon (it may make sense after you read this?), but we are somewhat obligated to stay right now. While life is mostly blessed and okay here in the Arkansas, some nights, it just isn’t. Just for a little while …
And in CONCLUSION: God is always kind … after I left the meeting tonight, a friend called me – a far-away friend, someone from my past – and she was having a bad day, too. And so, we mutually cheered each other up. See, there is a happy ending!
Usually I’m pretty proud of being independent. I was expertly making my way through international airports at age 13, as soon as they’d let me fly from America to Frankfurt without a stewardess assigned to me for my yearly summer trips across the Atlantic to see my German grandparents. I’ve planned out trips, coordinated bus and train schedules, and managed money at an early age. I went to college at age 17, and when I turned 18, my parents moved an ocean away from me. And that was the last time I ever lived near them.
When I got married, we moved 3,000 miles from “home” … just about as far as you could get – to the other ocean, the Pacific! And we moved a lot after that, always an exciting adventure. It was sometimes hard to explain where I was from because we’d moved several times while I was growing up as well. But I made friends who also weren’t really sure where they were from either … and I met people who had half and step siblings just like me! And I met those who knew exactly where they haled and who came from intact families … but really, that didn’t even matter.
While we were in the military, our friends often became our family and were the ones we relied on. After all, we were in the same boat – far from home, no one else to call in the middle of a crisis, the new kid on the block.
And I was okay with that too. Usually.
Then I had kids … and my kids had no close grandparents or family to spoil them, to babysit so we could go away, or to give us a break when we were sick. Again, often friends would step in and do that for us. We always managed.
Even now, I rarely ask for help, and when I do, I really hate it and preface my request with all kinds of excuses for the person I’m asking to have an out from the obligation.
I was strong … I am strong! I’ve moved entire households across town with just my minivan and my teenage son. I’ve coordinated more trips and address changes and vehicle repairs and school meetings and family calendars … without any help. I can do it.
But sometimes … especially now a days … I just want my mom. I want someone to talk to who KNOWS ME, who knows my past, and who is interested in what is going on in my life.
Sure, I have a caring husband and I have 3 great kids … but sometimes, I’ll admit, I am lonely.
We left a lot behind when we moved to Arkansas almost 2 years ago … and I’ve rehashed it and grieved over the loss and came to grips with it … several times over. But now I realize I have very few local, real-life friends, ironically at the crux of beginning a home business that focuses on FRIENDS and HOSPITALITY.
And maybe, I don’t even know how to make friends any more. I don’t trust just anyone with my stories and my heart.
And ironically, right now, no one (local) cares about my stories and my heart … seemingly. Perhaps I’ve pushed people away … or perhaps the few people I have met here actually don’t need me. They have all grown up together, one big happy family.
Really, I think they just never had to go away and be “the new kid,” and they always had family close by to help them through any situation they were going through. The kids they went to high school with are the friends they are raising their children to be friends with.
I don’t think they know what to do with me. I have no history with them … I am the great unknown as well.
Tonight – for the first time – I went to a church ladies’ meeting… and I prayed that I’d be able to get past my fears and to open up my heart just a crack. And I tried! I really did.
I said “hi” and smiled at everyone who dared make eye contact with me when I came in the room. I made polite conversation about the food spread on the buffet, and when I didn’t find someone to chat with there, I moved into the kitchen to ask to help. But they were busy – in a familiar pattern of preparing food that only people have who have worked together for many years have. I stood in the corner and observed – as introverts tend to do – but I tried to fix a pleasant look on my face. I said “hello” to those who walked by me. I tilted my head toward the group that was engaged in conversation right by me.
And I wilted just a little. I felt a little awkward after a while of standing alone, so I moved into another room, but there was nowhere to sit and no one motioned me over to talk to them or sit by them. I didn’t really know what to do with myself … this “ladies meeting”, I suppose was just a gathering of friends, old friends. And so, I left.
That’s right. I left. I picked up my purse and walked down the foyer and out the front door. And I don’t think anyone even noticed.
Let this be a lesson for me … always talk to the “new girl” – seek out the wall hugger – make room for someone who seems out of place. No matter if you have known them since kindergarten or have never seen them before. (Believe me, I would have done this tonight, if I wasn’t the only one!)