Sunday, December 13, 2009

Where The Heart Is

When I set off for this adventure to Portland without my boys I didn’t know how it would all play out. Grateful for employment in a place where I would be with friends I anticipated being busy with work and social activities and even sort of felt excited to be “on my own” for a while. After all, if this was the way it would be I might as well make the best of it, right?

When I started my job I was “on call” meaning I could work 40 hours in the week or 10 and I would not know which. Thankfully I worked quite a bit, out of necessity for the center but also, I think, because they saw that they’d hired someone who was there to work and work hard. With so many hours at work I was not left with much time to sit idle, a blessing to be sure, because the first weekend away from my boys was very hard. I spent most of the weekend in tears and second-guessed our choice for me to be down there without them.

It is an interesting animal, loneliness. One can be surrounded by friends who are loving, and who you love and still feel lonely. This was a surprise to me. I had never experienced it before and my soul mate, my best friend, was busy taking care of our family in a different state. I couldn’t share it with him. I couldn’t just sit next to him and have him hold me through it. It was an awful feeling.

I’ve been able to go home throughout this experience, which is also a different kind of scenario all together. I remember the first time I went home. I was excited but knew that Logan had established a routine with the boys and I didn’t want to upset that. I was to be a visitor… a temporary presence, in the life of my husband and children… that was difficult to navigate. I didn’t want to rock the boat, but I am their Mom at the same time… It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t fit there. And I didn’t quite fit in Portland without them. Suddenly this grand adventure became a survival experience. And I turned at first in the wrong direction… back to what was familiar before I had a husband and children because that was what I had known. And it was not healthy.

Oh, I didn’t see the bottom of a bottle of Jack or any silly thing like that. But how much does it take to turn one’s heart from God? Not much I imagine and loneliness became the norm. ~ It was so different. So hard. I was living with our dear friends the Russells. No one can ask for a more loving family to be a part of, though there are so many in the PUMP community. I felt welcome, comfortable, useful and loved… yet, lonely. What a paradox.

And one Sunday morning I woke up in prayer. I woke up asking God… Create a clean heart in me. Renew me. Cleanse me. Show me your way, God. This loneliness can’t be from you. This can’t be what you had in mind for me in this time away from my family. I’m yours.

Things changed after that. I became aware of just how much I should have relied on Him all along… I shake my head, thinking I should have known from the start, but Satan has a way of playing his game and I didn’t anticipate him being such a strong player. I am just so grateful that God is bigger and stronger and so forgiving. I am thankful that I can turn back to Him and immediately be next to The One who will fight for me.

My trips home have not been easy. I’m still not sure where I fit in with them yet. Logan is an amazing husband and father. He has a way with the boys that I didn’t recognize before. The boys are even less dependent on me now than they were before I left, which I keep telling myself is a good thing… And I have found a bit of my own way of doing things, found that some independence is satisfying… something I still wonder over whether it is okay or not.

Right now I am house sitting at Cash Mountain. It is beautiful. Quiet. Solitary. I have had a chance to think about the last several weeks while I sit in front of a crackling fire in a comfortable, cozy house. I wonder what the point of all of this has been. What is God up to in this? Well, this is what I know…

Jesus is still the most perfect man to have lived. His life and sacrifice are perfect partners because without one the other is pointless. The two together offer a kind of peace that is beyond human understanding. That this is freely offered to the world, to me, is unfathomable and it draws me to want to be everything He wants me to be. There is no loneliness when one stands in His peace.

I need Logan like a shadow needs light. I can be with the best of friends and have a good time, but I am only half as much as I can be without him next to me, in my life, every day. God has made us one flesh and I need to be next to him. This I would not have fully recognized without this time apart.

Our children will become more and more independent of us. So, we need to show them how important it is to be dependant on God, His grace and His peace. Every day.

On Christmas Eve I will go home for the last time. I have a one-way train ticket that pulls out of Portland at 8:30 that morning. We’ll spend Christmas together and every day after that. ~ That is eleven days away and I can hardly wait!

We’ll find a new normal in Portland, I’m sure. Many things will be different. Some things will be the same. I will still have a loving husband and wonderful children (and a cute dog). God will still be forgiving and faithful.

Everything else… is just details.


Elice said...

Oh Leah, what beautiful words. Thank you for your openness and honesty in sharing. This has been a very good reminder to me today.
Love you :)

Amanda Peterson said...

Although my story is different in the circumstances, i totally identify with the thoughts and feelings you shared. thank you for putting them to words.

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Cheryl Russell said...

We are really excited that all of you will be here soon! We are thankful for your friendship and love you all dearly. It is great to see you reflecting on this experience. I loved what you shared about what you have learned. Have a great time with your family. Love you!