I was filling out forms today for my oldest daughter to play softball this year. When I came to the part where they ask you to provide names of two people who can be contacted in case you are unavailable, it drew me up short. My mind went on a mental search of who I could write down, and then I realized…right…we really have no close friends here. Such things always makes me realize how much of an “orphan” I am.
When I left my husband a year and a half ago, after 25 years of marriage, I felt I needed a new start. I didn’t want to be around the old neighborhood where I would have to deal with people talking about my divorce. I also happened to live in an upscale neighborhood where many of the women seemed shallow, and hard to get to know. I had one good friend whom I really enjoyed talking to, but she was so involved with her four girls, that I really only saw her at the bus stop or occasionally at each other’s homes. We never went anywhere together, because she was so tied to her home life. Not a bad thing, but we only saw each other when our respective daughters were having a play date. I never felt like our friendship stood alone without our kids around.
So when I turned my face toward a new life, I intentionally left my old life behind. My girls and I moved an hour away from our former town and neighborhood. We looked forward to the fresh start, a new community, and for me, a new identity of just “me” and not the “newly-separated-and-soon-to-be-divorced” me.
And I love our new town. And I love the people I’ve met over the last year and a half. And more than anything, I love the way I’ve watched God meet me at every turn, and help me, and support me, and love me, and provide for me. Words fail to express my gratefulness to Him, but He has been nothing short of amazing.
Still, developing a sense of community for myself and the girls is an ongoing process. The first year here was enormously painful for the three of us, because once reality set in, the girls realized that they “weren’t in Kansas anymore” and they knew no one. They had to learn to negotiate all the cliques at school, and to find friends who would be faithful and not flakey, and that was no easy task. They came home with a lot of anger and frustration for the first year. Now, a year and a half later, they have both developed some good friendships, and it’s beginning to feel a lot like home.
But for me, the process of making friends has been much slower. I work from home, so I don’t get a lot of access to people. I’ve had to work to establish myself in a new church and to get to know people. After spending a year visiting churches, I finally settled on one and got into a women’s Bible study. And then God placed a woman next to me in church a few months ago, and we ended up chatting and found out we were both divorcees with kids, and “alone” here, and we are getting together every other weekend.
Still, it doesn’t feel like “community” yet. And what makes it harder is that all of my family of origin is dead, so my only real family (other than a few cousins who live in another state) are my girls. And my oldest is leaving for college in the fall.
While it would be easy to have a pity party–and I’ve had a few nose-blowers, believe me–what has occurred to me time and again is that if I didn’t have the Lord in this new life, I would be really, truly, incredibly alone. But God has looked upon me in my aloneness and made His presence known to me in so many ways.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:18) It’s true. He has come to me, and He abides with me, and He shows me which way to turn. He has provided for us financially, and He has blessed our health, and given us a house that feels like home, and given me an amazing client whom I write for. He has taken notice of every little detail of our lives, to show me that we are not alone.
I may not have someone’s name to put on the school forms, but we are not really orphans. We are loved and cared for beyond measure.