I mentioned more than once while on vacation about a month ago, that I had intentioned to write a “what i learned during my lent fast” post. Figured it was probably so long overdue or so long since i put real thought to it that it would fall into the “mental compost” blog pile…with the one about how I once saw myself as the ‘bride’ in Hosea and am still brought to (happy) tears when i remember Ryan’s response (during early engagement…when he still had an easy ‘out’) to my divulging the shady past that was my-life-before-you-knew-me-and-ok-some-when-you-did…and many more that i’m sure your better off not hearing, mostly about food probably. Anyhow, a friend of mine emailed me recently, asking about ‘how I found our church’ (or something like that). She knew there were no step by step or one size fits all instructions, but it’s always nice to hear how it fares with others. I shared my opinions on how i feel similarly to ‘finding a church’ as i do to ‘finding a spouse’. A loose analogy, but it works for me. I’ll leave it at that for now.
Anyhow, you may recall, for lent, for the first time since…I’m not sure when….I participated in that I ‘gave up’ parts of the social media aspect of the internet (i believe it became even more ‘specialized’ toward the end…as in…i was lame & not hard-core about it). Basically I did not read my feed reader (i.e. other people’s blogs)..least i don’t think i did…did not twitter (think i cheated there too) & did not visit any forums. Most noteably the traditional foodie forum where I hold the austere title of “moderator”. I was true to the last one. I discovered a few things. Such as: I thought I would have a slew of ‘free time’ to pursue things like…oh…meditation on scriptures? However, it would seem I was instead usurping time spent at the lunch & breakfast table with my kids…or time while they napped, that i should have been doing chores or prepping dinner so that I could play with them more when they were awake…ect. Yeah. Bring on the mama guilt! ugh.
But there was more. If I’ve talked to you in person I have probably mentioned that I had approx. 2.5 friends in my 9 months in florida. ..and I didn’t have opportunity to spend a lot of time with said friends..though it started increasing just before we moved away. In part I look back appreciatively to the Providential hand i was dealt….being apparently destined to leave….I’m not sure I could suffer again the heartache i felt when leaving Richmond VA. The first place I have vivid memory of friends that were women and legitimately, intrinsicly MY friends. Not born of an aquiantence via a ‘boy’ (i.e. making friends through newly acquired boyfriends, as was my MO in high school/college). They filled a role in my life I realized I had spent most of my life trying to make a boy fill. I’m sure Ryan is grateful for the discovery. His nights are free from chatter about cloth diapers, the virtues of pastured animals (ok..mostly..), and ideas on efficiently yet lovingly running a household..among other less savory subjects (he jokes that if i’m left alone with only women discussion of birth control always just ‘comes up’ somehow). Not to mention that said ‘Virginia friends’ and I had our kids together. I mean..not TOGETHER…but ya know…they’re similar ages (& mostly genders too). I had roots. Don’t get me wrong. There was no arm twisting on Ryan’s part. The Army Brat in me flew the coop with fervor. Always excited about the next new adventure. I am grateful for everwhere I’ve been, everyone I’ve met and everything those people and places God used to shape who i am. However, after i eventually get chickens, perhaps someone should suggest I just dye my hair when I announce whatever new plan I hatch after that one. I can’t help it. I seem programmed for a need for change every few years.
So, here I am, months into the newest locale…a few aquiantences – with some bright prospects on ‘real’ friends on the horizon – under my belt. Yet still feeling like i’ve hit that socially awkward wall. I’m putting myself out there. I talk to people at the park, I chit chat at library story hour. I go to womanly activity things hosted by women from church. And. I. feel. like. a. dork. but lonely? maybe. I don’t know. Enter “not forums”. Ouch. I LOVE the internet. I enjoy ‘social media’. Especially as one who’s family is dotted across the US (ok mostly dotted across the east coast, with one sibling in Illinios, which I’ve come to realize I don’t know where that’s categorized). I twitter with the idea that my main audience are the kids’ grandparents, peering in across the continent. Even as an Army Brat brownie (never made it to a full-fledged girl-scout), being trained with the song “make new friends, but keep the old…” I never kept in touch via snail mail. I kept in touch with 2 people. Only because both those people put fort the main effort and put up with my months of no response. Eventually even they apparently decided i wasn’t putting in my share. I get easily sucked into my own little bubble of ‘here and now’ and can’t be bothered to write and send a letter (or a blog post it would seem). However, just after our move to Florida it had – unbeknownst to me – become a crutch of sorts. The foodie blog in particular. What drew me in initially was trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with my son’s intenstines. But it became deeper. Then, as I slowly moved from wandering novice to seeming ‘expert’ (ok, perhaps not expert….’know it all’ perhaps?)…well, somewhere in there I found a family. As quack as it sounds. In fact when I realized we were moving here to Washington, I took note of the women on this forum who live in the area. And I’m happy to say I’ve had one of them over for dinner since we moved here. So it’s not ALL cloak and dagger anyway. But it was pulling me away from REAL life. It was stunting my availability…desire…to really reach out to the inconvenience of figuring out how to fit into other people’s lives. How to make friends. Again. Enter the ‘fast’.
I thought it would be a time of being reminded of who God is by the study of his word and hours of naptimes spent deep in prayer. Instead, I mostly felt lonely…disconnected… and compelled to pick up the…gasp..phone. It was during lent that I began to spend purposeful time with the women here that I’m becoming more and more connected to. I am a social creature. Granted, I don’t like a lot of hubub, playdates, and appointments. But I like to chat with some girls. it’s more than that though. I crave community. I need eyes outside my own nuclear family to peer in and remind me of things like, “well…did you pray about it?” or, “you know that’s normal, right?”. People who along with my own family, that I can take a deep breath and stop sucking in my stomach around (not entirely analogy). Praise the Lord that he pressed upon my heart to ‘unplug’. I did not find Him in the way I was expecting. But I found Him in the way he tends to work…people. His people.