Forever Grace

 

I’m reading a book by Grace Fabian, missionary to Papua New Guinea.  Several things have struck me…a good part of it has brought tears for it is a story of tragedy and forgiveness.  It has struck me that through it all her family and her missionary family has stuck with her and their friendships are both godly and grace filled and forever.

It’s made me look over our life.  I can’t say I have any forever friends.  I hear of others who have 40 and 50 year friendships and wonder what that would be like.  I’ve never had a girlfriend stick with me through thick and thin.  We’ve never had couples who were team workers and mentors.  Allen would have one man come and go in his life over the years. And me too…but never someone who called or wrote and kept up with us.  Many have given up on us rather than keep up relationships.

I am not sure why this is so…my own mom didn’t have a lot of close relationships, but she had ladies she would have in for Bible study and those she would go to tea at their house or sit and knit with.  My life has been void of a lot of that.  Even in our churches where I would lead large groups of ladies…I would notice that they never sought me out and if I wanted anything to do with them…I would be the one who would have to call or make contact.

I think everyone desires for someone who will seek them out.  I am not good at this myself.  I feel like if I am seeking someone out then I am putting them out to tell me no or risking being rejected.  Maybe I’m a coward at heart.

I’m so thankful that in my relationship with God He has sought me out.  He LOVES spending time with me.  He never judges and gives up…even when I don’t make time for Him.  He’s always waiting…and never rejects when I suggest we spend time together.

I heard a speaker years ago talk about the importance of having close relationships in ministry … four or five couples at least…people to share life with, share your story with, share your hurts and joys and disappointments and griefs with.  We have never found those who want that with and for us.  I see others that have that; but it is not our experience or ours to have.  Even the groups we have been in here in NC have dissolved because people were too busy and it wasn’t important enough to keep on meeting.

Our family has always been far away…both sides so there is no real connection there other than blood and for those that are Christians we have that bond…but relationship is really not there much.  I remember my older sisters calling mom every night to touch base and check on her.

One thing I’ve learned in counseling is we are created for relationship.  So what do you do when relationship is not there?  There is loss and grief and when you see it in others…there is sadness and contemplation that maybe there is something wrong with you.  If no one ever seeks you out…if no one wants a relationship…what does that say?  It says you find it in Jesus.  He becomes more.  He becomes enough.  My heart still yearns and wonders if we had had these relationships like Grace did for all these years..where we would be and what things would be different.

Overall, life has been pretty lonely for us.  We used to have long term friends we would spend holidays with…but they gave up on us a long time ago …or me, anyway.  I keep waiting for that abundant life scripture talks about to show up.  Each day I go to work with dread…not the “abundant” I was hoping for.  I can understand older people now who look back to the “olden days” when things were better.  I remember back to when my children were young and at home and those were my abundant years.  I’m so thankful for them.

Just some thoughts…dark thoughts…but they are deep beneath the mask as my blog is titled and need to come out somewhere. So here they are…to float in cyberspace and linger on the wind.

 

 

Footprints and Sand and Friendship and Restless Emptiness

Ever have those days (or nights) when your soul just seems to be crying out for more?  You aren’t exactly sure what is going on inside, but you know there’s something deeper going on…you pray, you dig, you try to wipe away the cobwebs of your mind and inner being…but you just know you can’t sleep…tears run freely and you are sad but you aren’t…you are happy but you aren’t…your soul is …searching.

Allen and I had the wonderful privilege of a few days off in Myrtle Beach this past weekend through Tuesday.  I think this may have started it.  I had the “week from hell” at work just before we went.  Things are extremely busy.  No one is happy in their job.  Everyone is finding fault and blaming and there are many smiles and surface conversations…but no true friendship…no meeting of the souls.

We met friends there.  In Myrtle Beach.  They are from Vermont.  We were from Vermont.  We used to call each other up, go to dinner, tour cheese factories, go sailing, go boondocking, share moments.  This past weekend was a re-entering into that friendship that seemed to be put on hold when we left Vermont for North Carolina to find work and be near children.  As we walked down the beach …step, slide, step, slide…our footprints left dents soon filled in by water and sand…we passed there, but only moments later you could not tell it.  In many ways I feel that way about life.  I am so grateful that I am on this side of the inner turmoil of even a year or two ago…but there are still many questions.  Life is so friend-less now.  We have people here who love us and enjoy time with us…but we have no one who seeks to be with us like Brett and Amy did.  In many of our new homes I would pray for friendship….should you have to do that?  Shouldn’t people want to be your friend?  Life is lonely on this side …

At work I watch as other ladies go to lunch together…or go shopping or antiquing…I’ve always been on this side of it…watching.  I always thought it was me.  There must be something wrong with me.  I’ve been to counseling this year…I’m learning that it’s not me.  I am a good person.  I love people.  I am pleasant and good company.  But I think sometimes people don’t know what to do with me.  I don’t crab a lot (just to Allen…poor man) so when they crab to me I am silent.  Not because I don’t expect them to crab…but because rarely does crabbing help and I often don’t know what to say.  I’m not a good empathizer, I think.  I need to say, “I’m sorry you are having a rough day.  I understand.  I’m here for you.”  But I don’t.  So maybe my silence is misconstrued as judgment…maybe I come off as too good to be true.

My friend crabbed to me this weekend and ended with “Okay, I’m done venting.”  I did tell her it was okay to vent to me.  Sometimes we just need to vent.  Often I don’t feel I have anyone to vent to…except Allen…again poor man.  I wonder sometimes if he thinks I don’t like any of life.  I do.  I loved loved loved this weekend.  I should have been rich.  We talked about that.  What happened?  (smile)  I love being busy at work when no one else is around.  I love doing a good job in my work even though I could care less if another cleanroom wiper were manufactured or sold when all is said and done for the day.

I love my garden.  I love my roses and flowers.  I love my children and grandchildren.  I love love my church at The Summit.  I love counseling.  I love Jesus…my Savior, my God, my best friend Who loves me in spite of me and because of Who He is.

So see, soul….we have a lot to be thankful for.  Don’t be in turmoil.  Even if your footprints on this earth never amount to much…Jesus’ footprints did and have meant everything in your life.  Friends like Brett and Amy have meant the world to you.  Your children and grandchildren continue to speak to you even though you desire for more of them.  You have had some wonderful times with each of them…they have given in to your growth and abundance over the years…the tender times…the hoopla times of rowdy abandon…the quiet times…the dancing in the kitchen times.  Even if you never have another time like those…you have had a lifetime of memories with each one to fill you in the dark recesses of you and get you through those nights of no sleep and restlessness.

Yes, that’s it…it is a restlessness of my soul tonight.  There must be more.  There must be friendships out there like we had this weekend…somewhere….someone to speak life into us…someone to speak life into.

Be still my soul and trust in God.The Lord is on our side.  He will prevail.  He will not let you be consumed with this life…but will fill you and give you purpose and strengthen and give you peace.

Fitting In

It seems my whole life I’ve been trying to “fit in.”  As a child I was the youngest in the class beginning Kindergarten when I was four…a whole three months before I would turn five.  I thrived in school; except socially.  I think I’ve been stunted in that area the rest of my life.  I was shy around boys forever it seems.  Now, I prefer talking with men.  Let me rephrase that.  I usually prefer to talk to men. I don’t feel the judgment or the attitudes that sometimes us women throw around at one another.  From time to time I sense being “set aside” by the male company like my opinions don’t matter, but unfortunately, I find that most in church settings amongst male leadership.

Tonight at my Counseling training class we broke up into groups…teams of four we will be with for many months and years ahead.  We had to share about how we came to Christ.  That was easy.  He’s done so much for me and has been my all for so many years.  Our team of four was only three tonight and the other two women have had very different lives from mine.  I could tell they clicked with one another.  I trust that my counseling pastor and Holy Spirit know who I need to be in a group with so I’m tentatively hopeful that at some point God will show me my part of fitting in.  I can see areas I’ve struggled in that I could help them with…but they are fellow counselors…not Life Care Recipients.  They haven’t come to me for wisdom or help…just friendship.  That’s the part I find difficult.  All of my friends over the years have fallen away.  My best friends from high school gave me up a short two years after graduation.  My best friends from college it took a bit longer…but other than facebook stalking me…they don’t really have any input in my life and haven’t been there for me for many, many years.  One of the statements made tonight came in the form of a question and answer.  “How do you know who your real friends are?”  “They are the ones when you are hurting who stand at your door and knock.”  I looked sadly at my husband and said, “Wow…that doesn’t bode well for us, does it?”

I wonder sometimes if it’s me since so many have left me over the years.  I mean, I see women laughing and chatting together in stores and restaurants all the time.  But I’m incapable of empathizing and small talk that other women enjoy so much.  I’m pretty serious.  I love a good joke and chuckle a lot to myself.  Maybe I’m insane. 😀  But life is so short I have a hard time not being real with people and most women don’t like that I guess.  I’ve mentioned before that I take a lot before I say anything…but there comes a point when someone is bellyaching or constantly harping or gossiping that I have to say…enough….and that’s when it comes.

I wonder if the same will be true of these women…my team.  Will they come to love me?  Will we come to love each other and our differences and gifts we bring to the table?  Will I ever fit in?  Am I really made for this counseling thing?  I am a truth sayer.  I must trust that God knows that and is able to bring just the right people my way who need my gifts.  I was once kicked out of youth group leaders (as the youth pastor’s wife) because other leaders didn’t want me in there … my friends….my peers.  I cried so hard that day and went to the pier to contemplate whether life was worth living if I couldn’t minister where my heart was.  I learned another hard lesson…in that death of my dream and vision…that God’s journey for me …if I submit…is much easier to bear and worth far more than my dream…but if I fight it….He will still take me down that road…with me kicking and clawing all the way…but with no peace for me.  If I desire peach…I must trust…and I must listen well to His voice…and submit to His plan…whether or not I fit in…ever.

“Human tragedies:  We all want to be extraordinary and we all just want to fit in.  Unfortunately, extraordinary people rarely fit in.” Sebastyne Young 

haha  You read things like that and it gives a reason…so I must be extraordinary because I don’t fit in…oh my….I wish it were true…I think it is more that God knows if I were to fit in…I could not give Him glory quite as well.  I must trust that He knew that when He made me.  I am extraordinary to Him and that’s all that matters.

John 14:14-16 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.…”