For most of my life, I have often felt like I didn’t fit in. As a teenager, I felt like I was meant to live in a different time. I felt like I started to find myself towards the end of high school and in college, I developed an excellent group of friends who I felt “got me”. Then, when I got married, I thought “this is it, I finally found someone who loves me, and all will be good”. Then, came the infertility…as I watched other couples and friends start to build families, I again felt left out. Suddenly, my friends were busy raising kids and even being around them was a painful reminder. When we adopted the boys, I again thought “this is it”, but I quickly found that in a small community, many families already had their “groups”. As Bolt began to really struggle, it felt further isolating. Why couldn’t I have the American Dream? We then picked up and moved across the country right when I was just starting to feel like I might have found a community. As I have said before, the move was the right decision, but also reactivated that feeling of isolation. Then, well, you know the rest.
Interestingly, in the past few months, I have really connected with the adoptive families group at church. It was feeling so alone that really allowed me to step outside my comfort zone for new friendships. However, with that, the feeling of not belonging has been emerged its ugly head again. While I now feel like I found a group of women who understand what parenting a kid from a “hard place” looks like, I look around the room and still feel so very much like a misfit watching couples mingle with other couples.
The other challenge I find, that churches are designed around families. You look around a service on a Sunday morning and are surrounded by families. I stand there in worship and often find myself overwhelmed by how alone I feel. I have one son who sits who his hands over his ears and both regularly excuse themselves for a bathroom run. I worry that people are judging me for the behavior of my sons. Part of me wants to shout from the rooftops, “I am doing the best I can”. Then, as I joined the sparsely attended singles group I hear that the church has so many groups that it can’t “publicize” groups that don’t feed a majority…
All while these thoughts are going through my head, I can’t help wondering if these experiences are teaching me empathy for the lonely…the left out…the misfits. I must take hold of the truth that we all have our own stories and those stories can either make us or break us. I don’t know the future, but I also believe that God can make beauty from ashes.