My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

lots of faces and stories from my day

There is so much I want to share with you tonight that I'm afraid I'm going to forget something. Austin is on restriction from watching tv so he is busting through my door every three minutes... he's bored... and I'm probably a bad mom for wanting him to just. stay. in. his. room. and leave me alone for a little while. And now he has just dropped a glass and shattered all over the kitchen floor. I have assessed his injuries and he will live. He pulled the three year old little boy trick of needing a bandaid but I encouraged him to tough it out.

I have had an amazing day but I'm also on sensory overload and I need to decompress. I don't think I'll manage to write this entry in a way that it makes sense but I hope you'll try to follow along.

Sometimes the hardest part of this whole divorce thing is the loneliness. I will also tell you that the hardest part of living in Jacksonville was the loneliness. I have longed for so long to be a part of a community. Even when we lived in Woodstock, I was lonely. Many of the arguments Michael and I had were over the fact that I was never a priority to him. The reason I almost checked out was because I was heartbroken to find out how much time and attention he had been spending on another woman when I had been so desperate for time with him. Loneliness is crippling.

I will tell you also, quite honestly, that I enjoy being alone. When it's by my choice and in my own terms, I'm very much ok with it. I love my nest. I love spending countless hours with me, my laptop and the tv. Of course... the reason I love my laptop is because my friends live in it... so I guess I'm not really a very good loner.

We have been on a break from Wednesday night Bible Study for the past few weeks. I didn't realize until tonight how much I have missed my Wednesday nights at church! The church symbolizes so much more to me than just religion or rules or a big thick book with lots of "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots". That's my community... my family... my home. There are just so many people that I have the opportunity to connect with in those few hours! I want to share some of those with you.

Sarabeth... who comes into the Fellowship Hall and scans the room with her eyes until she finds me... then claps her hands and rushes over for a "squeeze". Austin intercepts her hug and she squeals! We talk about what her school menu is like for the rest of the week as I plan to have lunch with her either tomorrow or Friday. Then she scoots away to connect with her little friends. (She came to Aunt Heather first, mind you!)

There's the guy whose wife always works late on Wednesday nights. He joins us at "our" table.... although we really don't have assigned tables, just like in the school cafeteria we are all creatures of habit. His wife was off tonight so we had the pleasure of her company too.

And Abbie. Sweet, precious Abbie. Our pastor's daughter is 14 and she has down's syndrome. Abbie always sits with us. She got a little nervous tonight because our table looked full but we pulled up a chair so there was room for Abbie. On Wednesday nights the ladies who prepare the meal always prepare hot dogs for the kids who don't want what they're serving. Abbie always gets a hot dog. Abbie always puts too much ketchup and mustard on her hot dog and we always have to wipe half of it off. Tonight Abbie got TWO hot dogs and she immediately confessed as soon as she sat down, "I can't let my dad see me because I'm not supposed to get two hot dogs". She spent her entire meal worrying about her dad catching her... trying to hide the extra hot dog under the table as he passed by... then feeling guilty for getting the extra hot dog. After eating one hot dog she was full so she carried her plate to her dad and said, "Dad... I fixed you a hot dog". We all laughed... manipulation is an inate characteristic, isn't it? Dad didn't want the hot dog and Abbie was full so she threw it away... and then the guilt of wasting food got to her and she cried.

There are some very real correlations I could draw for you with Abbie and the hot dogs... but I think you all know where I'm going with this... doing what we shouldn't, trying to hide the evidence, feeling shame about what we've done, lying about it and then grieving the results of what we've done. There are a lot of days I take two hot dogs.

Wednesday nights are nice because it's one meal a week I share with people I love. Jim and Angie sit with me... Angie and I catch up on things... there is always a flurry of activity around them and I just sit and soak it up. Jamie usually sits with the other kids but tonight she sat with us and shared stories about all the Princesses she saw at Disney World.

At dinner tonight I brought up the verse that I've been struggling to understand... Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." I understand the concept of wonderfully but I have worked hard to wrap my mind around what it means to be fearfully made. Am I made to be full of fear? Was I created out of fear? Is it fear in the context of awe, because of how intricate and complicated our bodies are? The other five adults seated at the table pondered the concept as well... I don't know that any of us had a clear answer...

We are starting a new Bible study by Beth Moore, as I've mentioned. This one is Breaking Free and it's supposed to be a humdinger. We watched the introductory video tonight and I'm really excited about going through it. I feel like my loneliness is a prison... yet I hold the keys. I can walk out of that cell any time I want. And I think that sometimes the prison becomes so familiar that it's easier to remain where you are than risk rejection or hurt by reaching for something else.

In my Bible Study class there are some amazing women! One lady went through the pain and disappointment of two ectopic pregnancies that rendered her infertile but then... just last month... was able to adopt! She and her new baby were in the class tonight... and she talked about what a blessing it is to share her story with people... what a great story of hope and restoration!

We shared our prayer requests and one lady, who I have come to dearly love, shared with us about her husband having some tough decisions to make in his job. As she was telling about it she broke down... and we immediately stopped to gather around her and pray. She cried those deep, gasping sobs as we prayed and it hasn't been that long (ok, just since yesterday!) since I cried that way myself and I know the anguish.

For so long I was afraid to leave Michael because I was afraid of the financial instability of being single. I had walked that path before and I didn't want to go there again. No matter what unpleasantness I endured, I had faith in my husband to provide for me. I have learned in the past few months that faith was misplaced. All along it was God who provided and Michael was just the tool God used for that period of time in my life. At this time of my life God is using my job and some other amazing resources as well.

I was teased a little bit after moving here and sharing my excitement and hope because of the healing and comfort I was receiving from church. I shared with someone how encouraged I was to feel a part of my church community. This cynical person said, "great, so you'll give away ten percent of what you make for the rest of your life... it would be cheaper to pay a shrink". The truth is that tithing is biblical... and it is something I'm convicted to do... and it's HARD for me to do this, trust me! I don't part with money that easily... I need a tangible reward, a payoff... but I am working to be in a covenant relationship with God on this issue... I trust Him, I do what His word says, He takes care of me.

Well... after the first time I tithed I received a beautiful and generous gift from someone who was basically a stranger to me. This week it was time to tithe again and I really considered NOT tithing (I'm a slow learner, apparently). There were truly tears in my eyes while I wrote that check... and my fingers struggled to uncurl from the page as I dropped it in the offering plate. Then today... I got a check from my kids' dad.... with a note that he wanted to try to catch up on his child support... and the check was for the EXACT amount that I gave to the church on Sunday. I've heard it said many times that you can't outgive God. So far, that's proving true for me.

The leader of our Wednesday night class is a strong woman of faith. She and her husband are genuine, loving people. Before I even knew who they were, I called about an ad they had in the paper for a house to rent. As I explained to the husband, it was me and my 14 year old son. The husband said that it would not be a good idea for me to move into their house as there were some teenage boys on that street that were troublesome and he was concerned that they would lead my son astray. As I shared the story of Austin the Firestarter tonight I tapped her on the arm and said, "Bet you're glad you decided not to rent to us now, aren't you?" and she said, "no, I'm even more convinced that it was the right thing to keep Austin away from those boys!". Tonight she made cheesecake to celebrate our new study... really, really, awesome, rich, thick cheesecake! And then... after the one girl shared about her husband being out of work, our leader said that just today her husband had lost his job. They have two rental properties... but it's still such a scary thing for him to have to find a new job. Again, this is a situation where she is dependent on her husband to provide. She is blessed to have a Godly husband who loves her and wants to be a husband to her and father to their children... but they can no longer keep their faith in his paycheck.

There are more faces, more stories, more connections, more hugs. I met my deacon tonight... it was sort of sweet... I stopped by Jamie's room to give her a hug and her teacher said, "can you stay here for a minute? my husband is your deacon and he has wanted to meet you!". I waited and teased Bailey, my little Georgia Bulldog fan by doing the Gator chop... and then this nice man came and welcomed me to the church and let me know that if I need anything at all, that I can just call them.

Something else that was really comforting to me... one of the church secretaries was at our table tonight at dinner. I talked about my mini-panic about my brother Jim being out of town last week. What would happen if I had a flat tire or had some other kind of emergency that I couldn't handle alone? The church secretary said, "then you call the church emergency line and there will be someone to help you." I didn't even know they did that! It's like... God's own little AAA service! Membership definitely has priviledges!

One last encounter I want to share with those of you who have managed to make it this far in my long, rambling post. Jim and Angie had a dear friend, Michael, who committed suicide a few years ago. Michael was a good man who worked as a missionary and had a sweet wife and a beautiful daughter. He also suffered from depression that was sometimes crippling for him. For reasons that never make sense to those left behind, he made a decision to end his life. His wife is someone I've known over the years from birthday parties and such. She has been kind and encouraging to me since I've been here in the mountains but we haven't had the opportunity to talk much. Tonight when I went to get Austin from his class she happened to be waiting just outside the door. She said, "I have just had such a huge burden for you over Christmas" this is Christian talk for "I had a feeling something was not quite right". I told her with big old alligator tears forming in my eyes and a catch in my throat that Christmas was hard. She told me how hard it was for her on her first Christmas after her husband died. "There are so many memories". I told her that for me it wasn't so much the memories since our time together was so short, but it was the death of a dream, the feeling of loneliness that is so hard to explain to anyone who hasn't felt it. She encouraged me to call her any time I felt that way.

I brought up my dread of Valentine's day coming... she said, "You mean Singles Awareness Day?" I laughed. My friend didn't say much but she did remind me that I'm not alone. All of these people throughout the day formed a web underneath me.... a safety net... something to catch me when I fall. I am blessed to be where I am and to be who I am and to have what I have. God is good.


JennBand08 said...

what a lovely post. I got misty reading it. You are so blessed to be surrounded by so much love.

Barbara said...

Beautiful post, I hope to be in that kind of enviroment soon, surrounded by love.

Anonymous said...

I got your text the other day asking my thoughts about Psalm 139:14 ~ I've not forgotten about it, but work and mommyness have prevented me from studying and responding. I intend to study that concept myself, but first I have to ask what does it mean to NOT be fearful . . . well, to NOT be fearful typically means that you are in a situation where you feel equal to or superior to the entity/person/concept to which you do not fear . . . like a baby, or a child, ice cream cones, a sibling, a parent . . . you know, something that you are NOT fearful of. You feel like you are on equal footing or in some cases, you are superior (like with a baby or child). To NOT be fearful of God means that you do not think He is superior . . . and well, HE is most superior. So yes, I would definitely have to say that I am fearful of God. And in awe. And in worship. Not necessarily that I am afraid of God, but I know that He is supreme. No one or thing is greater than God. But to be without God is the most fearful thing of all. Now, to be fearfully made means, to me, that I have the ability to fear and that others could possibility fear me . . . I hope I'm not fear-inducing, but my kids sometimes tell me otherwise . . .
I'm not through my my study of this concept, but thought I'd share my thoughts at this point.

Myra said...

You always have a way to articulate exactly how you deeply, that I feel I now know these people too! God is so very good!

Michelle said...

What a great post Heather. It seems like you are just where you need to be. I really enjoyed reading it, but then again I always enjoy what you write. Hope the rest of the week is great for you.

Big Mark 243 said...

... hmm ... reading the other comments for once, I am wondering if they read the same thing that I read.

Dealing with the loneliness from divorce ... yeah, it is tough. But dealing with the loneliness while in a relationship, that is TOUGHER.

Feel you about the community. When I left where I was, I did feel a part of the community. But I am also a part of the community I am in. That I don't want to be here, doesn't keep me from enjoying what there is to be had from this experience.

What did you get from Abbie and her hot dogs? That is something I REALLY wonder about.

Don't agree about the house renting thing ... just DON'T. Something isn't what it is supposed to be in that situation. But hey, that's me.

Don't know what to make about 'single awareness day'. Good line, but gallows humor, I want you to know, is contrary to what you hope for. Keep that in mind.


Be where you are.

sober white women said...

I am gla dthat you have settled into a church and are making friends. Austin will soon be over his punishment, and then he will stop bugging you. But until then just hold strong!

Missie said...

You wrote an excellent post! So many of us could feel your words! Your not alone, never.

Ken Riches said...

Singles Awareness Day - I like that sentiment. It is a tough holiday for some :o)