We have this awesome new wheelchair van that gave us freedom. After being cooped up in our home since October (I won’t even mention the two weeks before that in the ICU at the hospital), February seemed like a new lease on life. We enjoyed going to church as a family and jumping into a homeschool co-op. We slowly started to get to know the community we find ourselves in for this season.
Then, Covid-19 hit, and we are homebound again. Quarantine life feels eerily familiar – except this time Hubby is stuck at home with us! A friend sent me a text asking how we were and joking that I should write a book on how to survive being stuck at home. I laughed but realized that I have had a good deal of practice over the course of the past 7 months.
A road trip for a scholarship competition at my Alma Mater with my eldest was a much needed reprieve during my stuck at home season this fall/winter. A dear friend from my college days, who still lives in the area, opened her home to me for the weekend. I played the role of supportive mom through the campus tours and waited outside the interview rooms during the day, but at night I sat on her couch with my feet curled up under me. There is nothing like picking up – face to face – with a true friend. We laughed, shared our hearts, and I felt the deep sigh of contentment that comes from somewhere inside me when a soul need is being met. “This is the true gift of community,” I thought as I fell asleep that first night in her home.
The next day, walking the grounds of the university, I felt this strange sense of coming home and yet being a stranger as I looked at everything through my son’s eyes. He was making new friends even in the few short hours that he had been staying in the dorm — while I was bumping into friends from days past who now like myself had grown up. They now held positions on campus, and I had a man-child by my side.
One very brief conversation brought the idea of community to mind again. A fellow mom, who shares my blessing of parenting a child that the world might label special needs, saw me. Really saw me. As we spent a moment getting to know each other again, words of encouragement flowed. There is nothing like finding someone who understands my life and will call it blessed rather than hard.
I want that type of community for my son. I joked with him that I would go back in time and do it all again. He was skeptical – thinking of the high tuition and all the papers that would need to be written. But I was thinking of the late night pizza in the dorm, weekend ministry trips, prayer partners, and the pranks that we pulled through the CPO. I loved the cafeteria and studying with my closest friends in the classrooms.
I was giving Asbury a lot of credit – and I do believe that space was a sacred gift in my life, but in the days since our visit, I have been thinking through the seasons of life when I have had community and the seasons when I have felt utter isolation. It might have more to do with me than with my choice of university or the season of life I find myself in.
This year, I have experienced both deep loneliness and immense fellowship to the extent of which both leave me in wonder. I don’t have the wisdom to write a book on how to survive such swings. For sure, I have learned some survival tricks that aid me in the desert times. I probably could write you a bullet list which may or may not be similar to the ones flying around the internet these days. In times of struggle, I have tried hard to follow lists of well meaning experts hoping to keep my faith and sanity in the midst of lonely times. I tried so hard and hold on tight waiting and hoping for the next long weekend with a friend.
In a particularly difficult season a few years back, I found myself in a new short-term home after some significant losses in my personal life. I was lonely, grieving, and fighting for my faith. I finally came to a point that I thought I was loosing the battle and I had to stop. This is where I thought I would loose all touch with God. I couldn’t hold on. Funny how my expectations can be so very wrong.
“Be Still and Know that I am God” Was the verse that flooded my bruised and lonely heart. That was the game changer for me.
In times that are hard and isolating, I am learning to lean into that truth. Be still. I pray that I can be still and hear his voice, have deeper community with him, and know him in new ways during each season. Just know Him. Call on His name and see what happens.
For me, that is when a new list seemed to appear. I am not sure I can explain it….but it seems the more I lean into knowing God, embracing stillness, and letting my heart cry out for survival in a hard season….that is when breakthrough happens. I can see the gift of nature around me that helps me to breath deeper and survive one moment. He helps me to weep harder to release emotion which helps me survive another. God brings the name of a friend to mind that I text. I can suddenly appreciate a card that came in a mail. I enjoy playing a game with my kiddo. I have energy to exercise, or I suddenly am introduced to a new worship song that makes my soul sing. By being still and simply knowing God, I can appreciate the gifts he has just for me to help me make it through today – one moment at a time. I am taking note of each of these. That is my true list.
I can be tempted to wish back for my college days when I lived in the dorm with my close friends. I think Soccer Dude was right to be skeptical about my desire to go back. Wishing for what I had never meets my needs for today. Stilling my mind, my wishes and expectations to focus on just knowing God….that is where the true gift of community thrives.
In this season we find our schedules open. There ins’t a soccer season, homeschool co-op, band concerts, or music lessons. Meetings at church are canceled, and we are not in the midst of planning a huge gathering for Easter. We can be still. What luxury. Will we lean into this time of being home? Can we be still and know God in new ways? With some tears of frustration, contemplation, and honesty with my own heart, I am trusting Jesus to show me how.