A few weeks ago I was able to go with my husband as he traveled out of town for business. His client was in Omaha, Nebraska. He asked me if I wanted to leave a day early and spend that day in des Moines, Iowa, a city he had spent much time in with a previous employer. It was only a 2 hour drive from Des Moines to Omaha. As we neared the border of the two states, there was a sign that read, “Thank you for visiting Iowa”. A little ways down the road from that sign there was another that read, “Welcome to Nebraska”. I wondered what the land that lay between the two signs was called? It wasn’t technically Iowa or Nebraska if I based the territory off of the sign. I considered it “No Man’s Land”.
As I thought about that, I compared that concept to my own life right now. It is a strikingly similar picture. I feel as though I am between “lands” right now.
For the last twenty-four years, I have been needed by kids. Some of those years held more intense needs than others of course, but my purpose was being a mom and my duties included all that came with that title–laundry, cooking, taxiing, teaching, and disciplining to name a few. Those kids are grown now. Each of them is on the path to starting their own life apart from mom and dad. When my work projects are finished, which will happen in three weeks, my days will be an empty slate. Yes, I still have a husband–a wonderful husband. His job, though, doesn’t change because the kids grew up. His parenting does, but his job, his employment, remains the same. It keeps him very busy and away from home more than I would like.
For the past eleven years we have lived in the community we currently live. For a while, we attended church in this community. Our kids were involved in community activities as well as some school activities. Many times, when I go to Walmart for groceries or to Target for something, I see at least one person I know. A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to Dairy Queen. What started as a quick trip for ice cream for our son who had just had surgery, turned into a twenty minute conversation with some wonderful friends who happened to be there.
Now, my husband is wanting to move. The five bedroom house is big and quiet much of the time. It costs a lot to heat and to cool. The lawn is constantly growing and difficult to cut. The driveway in the spring is muddy and the cars get covered in it as we sometimes struggle to get them parked without getting stuck. Probably the most inconvenient aspect of where we live is the commute he must make to work. His job will always involve being in the city…and traffic is unbearable to and from there. There is a townhome community closer to the city that he feels we should move to. They cut the lawn, they clear the snow, and the commute would be much less stressful. It isn’t that I disagree with him. I believe it makes sense to move–even though the cost will be higher than the five bedroom house we currently have.
The problem, for me at least, is this feeling of not belonging anywhere right now. Everyone feels the need to belong, to fit in somewhere. Since we stopped attending church here, there is a disconnect between us and the people who once considered us friends. The church we attend now is 35 miles away. It’s difficult to build friendships from that far–few people would be willing to drive to where we are to get together for a BBQ. This morning I sat in church and listened to a sermon on going out into the community. While I agreed with everything said, for us, at least right now, that just doesn’t fit.
I am living in No Man’s Land. I don’t belong here, but I’m not a part of there yet either. I tell myself I don’t need people–that I am fine just being alone. The problem is, that just isn’t true. While I do enjoy solitude and quiet, I also know I need a few close friends. Even introverts, like me, need to feel as though they are accepted and needed. There needs to be a purpose to wake up every day and face the battle that is life. So much of that battle has to be fought alone simply because no one can fight the battle for me. Still, a comrade or two battling with me, if even part of the time, might take me out of No Man’s Land and help me feel like I do belong somewhere.