I’ve been feeling dislocated lately. I know that’s the wrong way to use that word, but it’s how I feel.
Between my parents and kids there are plenty of people around, so I can’t by rights call it loneliness. But I feel unsettled and frequently uneasy.
Last week I took the girls to dance class. I didn’t know any of the parents there (my dance friends were travelling that week) and they were all talking about how terrible their children’s teachers are this year. It was all I could do not to hold up my hand and interrupt, but before I did, they moved on to talking about how wonderful their vacations were and how terrible it will be when they finally “have” to take their kids with them. “They’re too young to enjoy a cruise.” “We wouldn’t be able to drink as much.” All that to say, the dance parents weren’t my people.
I told myself to stop whining about it and call someone, but my phone wasn’t working. It just kept flickering in and out of service, so that I couldn’t even text Sam, and while I understand that this is a First World Problem, it was vexing. Dance went on and on, and I hadn’t even brought a book (#firstworldproblem).
And then Sam on his white horse to pick up the girls so I could go meet two of my fellow homeschooling moms for tea, and we had a beautiful conversation about our brokenness. About having to turn to Jesus every day to look for grace, and I wasn’t lonely any more.
They say 1.75 million Syrians have fled their country. Nearly a third of the country (7 million people) is in desperate need of food, safe water, and basic necessities. Half a million Burmese are displaced– a whole generation. About half a million Haitians are still homeless after the 2010 earthquake. Those numbers are staggering and unimaginable and I am whining about my phone.
I don’t mean to be spewing statistics, but it helps me to remind myself of the faces I’ve met who make these statistics real to me. When I was in Haiti, and when I was in Thailand, they were my neighbors and bid me welcome. They are still my neighbors, and I can still be their community. Even when my cell phone isn’t working and the dance moms are on my last nerve.
My hope is that this sense of displacement I am feeling will turn my heart to pray for– and seek out to befriend– others who are displaced, for whatever reason. I am inspired by those around me who are making community: my family, ministering daily to one another. My dad, who faithfully delivers Meals on Wheels and stays to chat everywhere he goes. My friends who just became foster parents. The families in our homeschool group whose heart for the elderly leads them to visit a nursing home regularly. The committed staffs of Samaritan’s Purse and Oxfam and Doctors Beyond Borders and World Vision and Free Burma Rangers and Partners Relief and Development who teach me what persistence and caring and hope look like on the ground among millions of displaced people.
And no, loving those who are so far away from me and my pampered first-world life isn’t the same as loving the dance mom sitting across from me, and sometimes it seems easier to throw money at a problem than to be a neighbor. Auntie Leila had a beautiful post recently about making community, and I had to go reread it. It turns out that we all need community. I am blessed enough to have it here, even if I have to come out of my shell and get off my phone to see it.
How have you experienced community this week?