Or PPD as it is also known, is that feeling you get when your friends were all around for an extended weekend and fun times were had and now it’s Monday. Everyone has gone home, you forgot to do laundry and you have to face that proposal or meeting that you wished had been miraculously cancelled.
Being a full-time missionary means that PPD is often a regular part of life. Friends move on and off the mission field. Teams from home come and you are given just enough time to connect and then everyone gets on a plane and you are faced with a Friday night alone. Being a single woman means these are never good times. The loneliness is tangible and I kind of shuffle around the house looking for signs of life. Since I am indeed alone, I find none but my own left over coffee grounds…and I start to pout. Yes, I am an introvert and crave alone time–so none of this is incredibly logical… Nonetheless, my imagination takes flight and I determine that I will be alone forever and that no one loves me. Nor that anyone ever will really love me. It’s a pretty pathetic sight. (You can only imagine how volatile things get if PPD comes at the dawn of PMS.)
Today, I was cleaning my room and resting from 2 teams in February & March, I was beginning to feel that old, unwelcome feeling. Since it is Sunday, I decided to catch up on some missed sermons from River West, my home church. Guy started a series on Ruth recently and talked about Naomi first. Naomi was alone. Super alone. For real A.L.O.N.E. In her culture, your man was everything and a widow without a husband or sons was worse than nothing–she was a walking target for injustice of every kind. Rather than bring her daughters-in-law into a tragic future, she even sent them away, to return to their homes. Guy talked about the deep scares that Naomi was suffering under and the impact that trauma can have on our ability to see rightly. When Naomi told Ruth to go, Ruth responded with one of the most beautiful statements of solidarity and love:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16 & 17
Just before this verse, it says that Ruth clung to Naomi and refused to be moved. She was committed to continue the journey that God had set her feet on. It’s truly a beautiful moment.
But Guy pointed out something really interesting that I had never noticed. Naomi didn’t really respond. Ruth uttered pure poetry and love and Naomi was too blind to really even notice that God had not left her alone but had given her Ruth. When I heard this, I thought, “Has God provided me a Ruth and I missed it?” As I reflected on the week, I realized I have been surrounded by Ruth’s, but I have just been too dim to appreciate it.
I am never really alone. This morning I skyped my parents. We hadn’t talked in a week or so and it was a joy to see their faces. Although all is clear now, mom had a brief cancer scare recently and I was just happy to see her looking relaxed. Dad commented on the weather because he always comments on the weather. He really hates the cold and is jealous of my Africa heat. My big brother is getting married in December, so we discussed all the plans! I’m trying to help with some planning from Uganda and it is fun to think of ways that they can celebrate together.
Next up was a skype with my dear friends Ashley & Daniel. We talked about the sweet baby they are expecting in July/August. I saw Ashley’s baby bump and wondered at how lovely she looked and what great parent’s they will be. I cannot wait to be Tia Tina to this new little one and show him/her the many delights that God gave us to enjoy: skittles, fresh baked bread, the sound of Sam Cooke’s voice, the purr of a kitty…
I also received quite a few emails, texts, cards and Facebooks posts from people this week just telling me how much they love me, how they are praying for me, or just saying hello. Jonathan in particular wrote a post about my strengths that really did make me cry.
All that is to say that I am surrounded by Ruth’s, whether I have all my favorites in the room with me or we are strewn around the globe. And for that, I am so deeply thankful. Although I’m sure I will forget again–I think I have written this exact blog some time in the past– but until then I will thank God for each one of you that has shared some TLC over the years that I have been serving away from home. I could not do it without you.
And I am even more resolved to stand alongside the Naomi’s that I know here and around the world–the women standing alone and facing uncertain futures. You are not alone–not as long as I can help it!