I'm in a new stage in my life where I have been in one location now for almost five years. For those of you who do not know me, that is a record. If I were in my home country, I would officially call this place "home" now. Except that I'm partial to the place which we have chosen to call "home". It's got mountains, sky, rivers, lakes, and beauty.
But this is a record. I've never physically lived in one place for so long. What makes this more interesting is that four of those years have been in one house.
Now, we did switch churches two years into the five, so some switch in friends.... I'd be happy to switch churches again, but we shouldn't. We went to this one because friends said it was good, and it has good things, really good things.... but it lacks some things. If we were going to be here for two years, the lack of those things would be insignificant, but as we go on into year three and there is no change in front of us on the horizon, I am less and less content with the lack of those things. I miss joy. I miss singing out of delight. I miss transparency and small groups where we are NOT instructed not to share our lives because "this is time for serious study of the word, not a sharing time". Of course we were all told, "if you have a problem, you can ask to talk to the pastor." No. No problem. It is just that I wouldn't mind getting to know people and being able to say that, "hey, this week was a hard week because I am struggling with a pulled muscle in my shoulder, can you all pray?" I miss singing. I miss singing. Oh, and did I say I miss singing? The church sings. They've even gotten adventurous last year and got a guitar to play along with the piano. But, I miss singing. But I am not going to church hop again. We are here. I might, however, sneak off on Sunday nights and go to a church which sings. Maybe they even share their lives. Who knows - I might even find some people who are not already in a clique.
But that brings me to what I wanted to talk about in this post - friends. I'm struggling right now with friends. It is not that I don't have any. I have a lot of people I am friends with. But it is not easy. And I am afraid if I talk about it in my circles of friends here, that I will be labeled "that MK" again. I'm too old to be just a MK with issues. I don't think that is all there is to it.
As I thought about it this morning, I wondered if it is in a large part my fault. I've moved so often now. At least every few years. I wonder if I've just gotten tired of making good friends. Yes, I have friends, but... I know if I make a good friend, a best friend, that I will just end up leaving her. That will hurt me and hurt her. I wonder if I keep a distance on purpose.
Then there is the other issue that I find it hard to fit in. For all of me to fit in. I fit in well, but that part of me that doesn't fit in... people might not see it... but it is part of me still, and I feel different. I feel like parts of me no one can understand. Yes, I get excited about a sale at the shoe store, and might stop by to get my daughter some Sunday shoes, but part of my mind might also be on events happening on the other side of the world. You know, that part that the rest of my friends might think about for the five minutes it is on the evening news. When I wake and read the headlines of "Another Bomb Blast Blows in City", I don't think, "yeah, yeah, again, where is the creamer for the coffee gone?" Instead my mind stops and thinks back to explosions I have seen, and I stop to read which city, which country, where in the city... It is this part of me that my friends will never understand.
This last week was a tough one for me. I said goodbye to my husband as he went to travel, and this time the travel was not as safe as usual. We had a solid reason to be concerned, but we both agreed that we can not back down at every threat or breath of wind. But that day that I took him to the airport was a heavy one. The week after he left here, but before he went there, (he visited another place first) was hard on me. Wondering. Waiting. It was that week I struggled in my relationships with friends. When I felt very alone. My friends listened, but they could not comprehend. It was outside their realm of experiences. And they tried. But they tended to respond with, "wow, and I thought I had things to worry about!" That is not what I wanted them to say. I don't want to belittle their worries or struggles. I just needed to reach out to someone and have someone reach out to me. In the end, it was my son's piano teacher who knew what to do. One day, she just walked over and said, "I just don't know what to say, but I know this has to be hard on you. Can I give you a hug?" yes. A hug was wonderful.
But I felt alone. I still do as I wait out the time until he returns. I am more at ease now, but still aware. Aware that things still do happen, but more at peace now. But I feel alone. This is a part of my life where I have no connection with the world of friends around me, and I feel alone.
I wonder if I don't make close friends because I am tired of goodbyes or if it is because part of me just can't connect, or if it is some combination of the two.
Or is it because we are out of a normal group of other missionares where we are, and if those would be the circle where I would draw my closest friends from.
Or is it that I am so new still into these people's lives. My history with them is short, and they have grown up together.
I don't know, but part of me is lonely. Wishing for one good friend.
I think I can find them. I found one once when we stayed somewhere a week. Amy and I hit it off immediately. We did crazy things together. We escaped late at night when our eight kids were sleeping to go load up on cokes and chocolate and watch Mama Mia together. Since it was so late and the theater was empty, we laughed too loud and danced in the aisles. I wish I lived near Amy. We'd have fun. But Amy was a pastor's wife and I was a missionary's wife, so we were both so happy to put down our role's expectations and just enjoy life.
Part of it is that I am in a different culture here. It is so different than my home. So close, but so different. It has a different rule set for making and being friends. I don't know if I've figured it out yet. On my team, I am the odd one out and in my surroundings I am close enough to not be too different, but different enough not to fit in well.
Long post. No clear question. But how does it work with you? Do you find after being out for several terms that you are able to keep close friends? Do you make close friends easily? How do you manage that?