It is odd that since Paul and I have been married, no matter how much we move or don't move, what we do or don't do, I still haven't found that place that I would call "home" for us.
Mind you, I am aware we are a pretty big package. After all, you aren't just taking me in; you also take my husband, and my 3 kids... possibly my dog and my cat too. It's a big package! It can be too much to handle for some... but at the end of the day this is my family and it's the only constant factor in my life that God has blessed me with - these 4 other people and 2 other creatures that I can count on to be there for me and be there with me.
Maybe that's the reason why loneliness strikes so hard and so often for us.
I also suspect that we are so eager to find this home that we jump into relationships and bond quicker with others than they are willing to bond with us... then they get sick of us... then we are left hurt and wondering what we did wrong... when it was the bonding in and of itself. We don't have to be close friends with everybody! Maybe distant friends, once a week if that much friends, will suffice.
Easier said than done. While everyone else has brothers, sisters, parents to be with, at the end of the day its pretty much just Paul, me and the kids. A few phone calls to mom and dad, but with the time difference and distance its hard to coordinate the time for conversations that doesn't steal away from anybody else's time.
I have spent the whole year of 2011 trying to not take things personal and the truth is, everything has only reinforced the thought that we just don't matter. Which I suppose if this is the case then its pretty good that we're all the way here in Alaska and not wasting any of our loved ones' time.
It's actually pretty sad, because most people have no idea what they are missing. Anakin is smart and sharp as a thumbtack! Compassionate unlike any other kid I've ever met. He's helpful and funny... Fun to hang out with... And then there's Brielle, who's smart, can talk about almost anything, and knows just how to smile at you so that she wins - no matter what! Caleb is just a fun little dude. Mostly happy, a bit of a brat, but that's only because he doesn't quite know how to use words to express what he wants... once you figure it out, its all fun and giggles from there! Yeah... you'd have no idea what you are missing.
We have spent the past few years unwelcome, uninvited, ignored, and kicked out... unforgiven, unloved, uncared for. And just when it seems like things are about to look up, like we may just have found that support and friendship we were looking for, we are given a bill to remind us of how much it has cost us, or how much we are not worth paying the price for.
I mean, I never presumed to deserve anything. I know we don't deserve any of it. I guess I was naive enough to hope that perhaps grace and mercy was in the works.
And what gets to me the most is that Paul and I can't get upset over it, can't say anything about it, can't do anything about it - because we are otherwise nailed for it. If we are any less gracious, or unconditionally loving, we are immediately sent to our execution. How dare we, right? We never really belonged in the first place, so we have no right to protest... We're just getting what we deserve.
I only pray people would realize why I react so offended at times: Because almost always, you are not just rejecting/neglecting/ignoring ME. That I could live with. You are also hurting my precious babies' feelings, and my little ones are too young to understand why you are nothing but an old memory now... why they don't hear from you or see you anymore. And if you were hoping they didn't care I'm letting you know that they've asked. Over a number of different church homes, acquaintances, even blood relatives... they remember, and they ask. And I would hate for them to ask of themselves the same question I wrestle with often, "What is so wrong with me? Am I not worth it? Not even a little?" I don't know what is more heartbreaking; the fact that they've expressed these feelings to Paul and me, or the fact that we keep lying to them to protect their little hearts from feeling so unloved.
So we keep moving forward, giving the kids something new to look forward to, hoping one day we find "home". I'm not entirely sure what "home" looks like, but I've always said that "home" will be where someone takes Paul fishing. I don't know why, but I've been waiting for another man to step up and really take Paul fishing. Not a late afternoon lazy attempt at a creek somewhere, the kind of fishing trip you would plan with your son or brother. Where you get up before daybreak, get your best gear together and go during the best season for it. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm hopeful.
I know "home" is where my kids will be loved on and not bribed. They don't need to get gifts or candy to be spoiled, I'd like to see other people help me as they see in them the greatness that I do and love them enough to partner with me in raising them to greatness. I don't mind the proverb, "it takes a village to raise a child". I could use all the help I could get. I've seen people care about my kids this way - I know people I can name that I thank God for every day. There is a lady or two (usually from church, though not always) in every town we've lived in that has covered our family in prayer and have consistently loved on my kids. I'm thankful for these women. I know there are more out there.
I don't know what to expect out of my "home". I guess I don't really ask for anything for myself. I'm a "love it or leave it" kind of person, and people either like me or get irritated by me. But I guess what I've been missing (pretty much since I became an adult) were the people who loved me enough for who I was, where I was, to keep pushing me forward. I remember as a teenager there were adults I could talk to about anything and everything. They were always there for me, cheering me on in the right direction... I guess you can call that "shepherding". And I don't remember (personally and individually) being "shepherd" since I lived in Oklahoma City. It's no easy task, I am a lot of work! I'm not saying no one has cared, because that is not true. But it makes a world of difference the kind of "how are you" responses you get as you are leaving the church building versus an all-nighter in a car... I very lovingly remember that while most teens HATED going to the youth pastor's office, I absolutely loved it. It was a moment where I had his undivided attention and him giving me that length of time meant a lot to me.
I know that life is a series of seasons, and each season brings a change because without change we could not grow. It's sad when I think of the relationship I have with some people in this season that was much more closer and personal in seasons that have passed. I think I'm in a season where the old proverb is true; you can feel completely alone in a room full of people! I think I would've died of loneliness if I had not been working at Petco during the time that I did; found what felt like my only friends in the world to unload with, who joked with me and laughed with me, and encouraged me and let us take showers in their apartments when I was homeless...
It takes effort on my part to direct my mind onto every person, from every season, one by one, and acknowledge that they have loved me and have been kind to me, that they have expressed their care for me - even if I cannot say it about everybody I know, usually in every place and season in my life God has placed people who loved on us when we needed it. I am thankful. In my prayer time I name these people, one by one, and thank God for them, and ask God to bless them. But we are still lonely... and we are still roaming...