As these last days and weeks have dragged on into months of isolation and distancing, I can’t shake the upside down feeling. Not much is as it should be. My family is out of place and out of sorts. Just this week with slight loosening lock down measures I took my children with me to the store, their first outing in two months. My five year old daughter talked to every person she met and rushed through the telling of all the names of friends she misses any time she had a captive audience. She is starved for connection. We all are.
Yes, there is Zoom and Skype and FaceTime. Yes, we WhatsApp with friends and family attempting to connect in meaningful ways. Yes, we remind ourselves that flattening the curve is important and the upside down-ness is not forever. The parts of our beings made for connection, real life physical connection, still starve.
Moving overseas, the connections with those we left behind took on a different form. We grieved the losses, but understood new connections would be made in our new home. My own parents, siblings, nieces and nephew, and friends were missing from my day to day life, but these in person holes were soon filled. A new, real life community formed around me. I am Aunt Anisha to countless mission nieces and nephews. While thousands of miles separate me from my mother, older women step in to provide comfort and guidance. New friendships forged in the shared experience of living overseas lend peace and hold us up when the homesickness strikes.
But now? Now when all the daily connections are missing and new relationships cannot be formed to fill the gap?
Recently our mission community experienced a exodus of expats. Our hearts hurt to say goodbye to many friends who had become family. Sharing my sadness with a teammate, she responded, “Yes. Sometimes I can feel so alone here. But God always reminds me that when I am lonely and my friends have left, He is the friend who never leaves me.”
We were created for connection- real life, physical connection with other people. People made in God’s image, fleshy carriers of His love and goodness.
God, how I miss your people! I pray. I thought I knew how to do this, how to cope when saying goodbye and forging new relationships is such an innate part of mission life. Surely I should be able to cope with these temporary distances, but they are so hard!
The distance is hard. We all feel it. We’ll keep those Zoom sessions and WhatsApp messages. Instead of stopping to talk with neighbors, we’ll cross to the other side of the street and shout across our greetings as we pass. We’ll remain socially distant and wait.
In the waiting, may my upside down heart remember that there is a Friend who is never distant, who is always with me, who created me for connection, and will provide for that ache just as He always has.