Since last year I've felt a bit out of place. My best friend moved, we changed churches, another close friend started school full time, we began homeschooling, I was pregnant with friends and lost my baby while theirs survived...a few among many other socially-uprooting changes.
Change is fine (and strangely, sometimes fun) for me, and up till today, I thought I was handling it in stride. Until I was asked to participate in an "extracurricular" activity at our new church. I said yes, hoping that since two of the other two ladies involved were also home educators with kids similar ages to mine, it would be a good opportunity to get to know more moms like me.
The morning started with me getting there 30 minutes after everyone else due to a potty accident. Normally that wouldn't have bothered me but for some reason, the fact that everyone already had a job and I didn't made me feel awkward. I pushed negative feelings aside and jumped in anyways.
We were decorating the church for Christmas, and as the morning went on, the church looked brighter and my spirits grew dimmer. It seemed like everyone was involved in a conversation I wasn't. I kept trying but eventually gave up and resigned myself to making wreath bows in silence.
It was early afternoon by the time we finished and by then I had the odd sensation of someone viewing zoo animals behind glass. You're there with them but not part of their world.
The kids were hungry because it was way after lunch and no one seemed to care. I was frantically trying to put the last of 6 wreaths on the wall when Ava knocked some stuff off a table. As I bent to pick it up, she leaped onto my back and hung on like a monkey. Thrown completely off balance, I fell backward, pinning her under me on the carpet. She cried, and I felt like crying too!
Finally it was over and we hurried to the car. The other two women happen to be neighbors, and as I buckled Ava in, I heard snippets of their conversation. The way people talk when their lives are blended. It made my heart ache. It felt a little sad to be left out of their lunch plans, but more than that, it was a painful reminder of what I no longer have.
As I drove home, I was overcome by the feelings of desolation welling up in my heart. As my mind searched frantically for a memory of a place that I do fit in, my heart reminded me, one by one, that none of those places exist any longer. I felt completely uprooted, an orphan at a family reunion, a weed in a field of blooms.
Not long ago, I had taken my feelings of loneliness to Jesus, and in the days following my lament He had literally brought to my door many of my friends! I think maybe 4 or more in a couple of days! It was very apparent what He was trying to show me, as I daily reminded myself that He is always near and that I'm never truly alone.
Falling off of that horse into the dirt of what happened to me today was hard. Really hard. I've slowly come to realize that I'm the one preventing close connections. Seemingly forever scarred by the painful changes of the past year, my heart is unwilling to be shared in such a way again. It has had all the breaking it can take.
It will take some major courage to be vulnerable again, to be willing to risk loss, disappointment and heartbreak. Jesus is the only perfect friend, the only one that won't move away, won't leave us out of lunch plans, won't forget our birthdays, and won't gossip behind our backs and will love us unconditionally.
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.