"At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self." Brendan Francis
I think this quote has summed up my journey these last year and a half. Leaving one's community and moving somewhere totally new would of course be a lonely journey. So in some ways I was expecting some loneliness but the depth to which I have descended into loneliness has caught me by surprise.
I remember as a young girl my mother affirming in me that I was very good at making friends. I have always thought that some of the wonderful fruit from the pain of being a third culture kid was being able to build a community fast. I basically lived in two places as a child Kenya and west Texas. As an adult, I have lived in several places. Some places have taken longer to build friendships than others but community has always come. Even as I write this, I know that with time God will bring community because he has built us for that but this desert is hard to walk through. It is not only hard because I am an extrovert and I gain my energy from being with people but because I feel that my sense of self has been lost.
Maybe, I have lived long in the part of the world that one's self is defined by one's place in community. Now that I have no community outside of my family or a very beginning community, it feels as if I am a bit lost.
"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty." Mother Teresa. Dave and I have always felt that our wealth has been our relationships and this journey has felt like 'terrible poverty'.
Besides moving somewhere new our family is going through transitions of 2 children going off to college. Although, I am so proud of my 'adult ' kids this can really change the dynamics of your family and its culture. Besides missing them terrible , it has taken some adjustment to our now family of 5. I am growing to appreciate and like our new family dynamics but it has been yet another change.
With such a change moving to the U.S after living in Africa for so long and our family changes and transitions, it has been hard to walk through these with out a community close by. The few phone calls and e-mails that we have received have been so appreciated but we have needed people to sit with us that know us and know who we are.
Just before Christmas we had some missionary friends over who were on furlough. After always being the new person and stranger at so many events and functions it was a breath of fresh air to be with people who knew me. It was so sweet to talk about familiar people,places, and experiences. For them to talk about our future based on our past shared history. Then on Christmas Eve we had our first visitors from East Africa --dear friends that we have known for many years. It was so nice to be with them and to be known. To laugh together and also share our struggles.
I think it was those experience in someways that helped to define the loneliness that I was feeling. It was not just not being able to hang out with girlfriends for coffee or praying with brothers and sisters....it was not being with people who really knew me and knew all the exciting journey that God had taken me on.
Sometimes because we are so far from our previous life it is easy for it to seem that it did not happen or was just a dream. Yesterday, I connected with a couple of my friends in Rwanda. We chatted over FB and although I would have preferred to have visited face to face...I was very thankful for this technology and connection with friends.
We started our first weekly small group in our home here in Chicago last Sunday night. I could see the beginnings of our new community. I know that my loneliness will not be a forever thing and this is just a season.
"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:16 .This has been the redeeming fruit of this season---sweet fellowship with my Lord ---going to Him when in the past I may have turn to others. He has and is caring me through this time of loneliness.