Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Gift of Being Lonely

Gloria and I in '90
Lori and I in '92
I am a very social person- I love to talk and think of myself as approachable (I guess everyone else could have a different perception, lol). Growing up, we moved around quite a bit- so I had to learn to adjust and make friends. I always seemed to find someone who I became close to. Let's see, I have about 12 girlfriends that I remember being very close to when I was younger.
My wonderful college roomies
College wasn't easy at first, I lived on campus, and most of the students on campus were much younger than me. After my first semester, I found my 'groove' and made some friendships that remain very valuable to me almost 10 years later.
When I first moved to Texas, I was so excited, I was about to live just a matter of feet away from about 80 other staff members and 300 students. Lupe and I arrived home from our honeymoon in Cancun 1 day before Lupe went back to work. In most situations, that would be no big deal (and I had no idea it was at first)- but this was very different. I thought I was ready for this insane schedule and soon found out how unready I was.
Lupe was walking into "summer camp mode" (or no life for 2 months mode)- which means: working 9 weeks straight (no days off) for 12-15 hours a day. I know, that doesn't sound possible- but after 6 summers- believe me, IT IS! I knew his schedule was long- but I was not prepared to wake up without him every morning and going to bed at 8:30 every night just so I could be with him (although he was asleep). Not only was this his schedule, but it was majority of all the staffs schedule.
Angie and I
So, it didn't take long for me to become very lonely, very quickly. I was in a new state away from ALL of my family (who I am close to), and everyone I did know (all of about 5 people) were unavailable ALL the time- working at the camp. Lonely, turned into awkward, which turned into sadness, which turned into depression. I could only clean and organize my house so much, and with all the time I had on my hands- it took me about a week to unpack and decorate my new home. I remember 2 phone calls I received about 3 weeks after I arrived, they both basically said to me- "..I wanted to give you space to unwind and get settled...". I thought to myself, I don't need space- I NEED a friend.
Debbie & Michelle, lifelong friends.
After summer ended, things got a bit better. I had my husband back for one, and I began to get to know some of the staff at the camp. I made some very good friends who greatly impacted my life and who I still value and turn to (one of them suggested I start this blog). Problem is, the ministry we were involved with was/is a bit of a revolving door. One of the main objectives is to train people up to go out and impact the world. There are many who may be there forever, but the majority are there for a few years and and after being trained and mentored, they set out to pursue their new season. Which, I believe it is a great thing to have a place that trains people up in the things of God and send them out to make a Godly difference in the world. As great as it is though, it's never easy to watch people walk in and out of your life.
Sandi became my lifeline more than once
In all of this, I learned a great many lessons. I learned not to allow people (friends, even Lupe) to 'complete' me- God is the only one who can do that. Instead of relying on everyone else to fulfill me, I had to depend on God. I learned the traits and value of a true friend. I became very weary of fake people, fake smiles, fake words, fake acknowledgments. I also learned of things I needed to change in myself, so I could always be a sincere friend. One of the negative things I learned, was to distance and guard myself a little to much- I always seemed to look for an ulterior motive or underlying motive in everything anyone said or did (I am continuing to work on this one).
Not surprising that I only have pics of Sarah with my girls
I will be forever be indebted to the handful of my Texas friends (including my family and husband), who loved, accepted, embraced, held, walked, talked, corrected, ministered, and laughed with me- and occasionally let me melt down, scream, rant, rave, be unreasonable, and emotional. No matter how far apart- we pick up where we left off and continue to give and love.
Since moving back to Florida, God quickly surrounded me with some wonderful friends who sometimes are my lifeline. I am so blessed to have so many friends- near and far, old and new- and through my loneliness have learned to value each one so much more.

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