I looked in through the driver’s side window and saw them dangling in the ignition as if they too were taunting me.
“Look, but don’t touch.“
Through the glass they mocked me.
I stood alone in the parking lot feeling the heat of the early summer sun beating down on me, and why shouldn’t it beat down on me? Everything else had lately.
My shoulders were slumped. My eyes were wide with fear and incredulity. My belly, carrying my precious baby boy, was still for once as though even he was holding his breath, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
I had no choice but to go back into the small, rural bank. It was about the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t have the strength for this. I’d left moments ago after asking about the mortgage that would soon go unpaid due to a lack of child support.
The bank tellers looked at me blankly when I asked if anyone could help me get into my car. They knew I’d been inside only moments earlier asking similar impossible for them to answer in the way I hoped questions about our family home.
How I could keep my home when child support wasn’t being paid?
How I could sell my home when my ex insisted on using prices beyond what our local market carried?
Could anyone help me when both our names we on the mortgage?
Could anyone stop my credit rating from dropping faster than a brick in a shallow bucket?
They had no answers about the mortgage – or my car.
I left the bank and sat dejectedly on the picnic table where employees must sit around laughing about family stories, gossiping about the latest teller news, and whispering about pregnant women who are left alone by their husbands.
I sat wishing there was someone to call.
I thought of my husband two hours away at work. Most women would call their husbands when something like this happened. Mine had made it clear I was a burden. I was trying to do everything right and not stress him out more. I thought if I only I wasn’t such a horrible person, he’d come back. I shouldered the blame for his actions. I couldn’t call him and bother him more.
I thought of my friends and family. I didn’t want to call them. At this point, most knew what had happened and were very protective of me. I knew many would come in an instant, but I also internalized the belief that I was a bother, a burden, unworthy.
I sat on that picnic table not knowing what to do, unable to make even one more decision, and not having energy to do anything about any decision I made anyway. Too much fell on my shoulders. I just couldn’t take anymore. Locking keys in the car was something I’d have called and laughed over with my husband or a friend about only a few weeks earlier. They might not have been able to help, but the laughter we’d have shared would have been enough.
This day, I was alone.
And there was no laughter.
I don’t know how much time passed before I stood up and began to walk the 15 miles back home. I had to get back to my other boys. I had to put one foot in front of the other.
In the middle of nowhere, I was completely alone.
In the weeks after my husband left, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of doom. Everything I’d believed in my heart to be true seemed a lie. Every piece of life we’d built together over 17 years I dusted off, mulled over, and questioned. Roots we had planted for our boys were ripped up mercilessly by the one who had sworn to provide and protect.
One of the greatest weights I carried was that feeling of being totally and utterly alone.
My husband worked a lot, so I was used to doing all the housework and lawn care, paying all the bills, and taking the kids to appointments and activities by myself.
But this was different.
This was alone.
There was no one to share laughter with, no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to get second opinions from when the kids were sick or hurt or I just wasn’t sure of something.
There was no one to reach the top shelf in the kitchen and no one to help get five little ones out if a fire broke out in the middle of the night.
There was no one to dream plans full of Hope for a better future with.
Aloneness prevailed in every area of life. Despite so much support all around me, I was alone in my decision making, in the responsibilities I carried, in providing comfort and love and support and example for my boys. I was judged and found lacking and inadequate in every little thing. I parented and worked and lived out of fear of messing up and not being good enough, and there was no one I could explain this to completely.
This was nothing like having a husband who worked a lot.
This was terribly and utterly alone and under attack at the same time.
I didn’t get very far that day by the bank. I stood, walked across the corner, and headed south toward home. Maybe I went 100 yards. Maybe more. Maybe not, but it happened.
The young man ran after me calling from the same bank I’d just left. I recognized Colin as one of the bank’s tellers. He couldn’t help me get into my car, but his Grandfather had been a locksmith years ago. He was retired now, but maybe he could help.
Colin had already called him, and he was on his way.
I sat in the parking lot with this 20-something year old kid not knowing what to say. It was the first time that day I felt tears sting my eyes. I didn’t know whether his Grandfather would get those darn keys or not, but suddenly I wasn’t alone.
And that made all the difference.
We often think we are entirely alone in this big, scary world. We can be alone in a loud, crowded gathering, alone in our bedrooms sobbing into pillows, or alone on a picnic table in a distant bank parking lot.
The absent love of the family we think we should have makes us question our worth and the purpose of our creation. It makes us question the Creator and His willingness to Love us.
Our earthly family is designed to reflect the Father’s Love, but earthly families are flawed. Free will is a reality, and our free will isn’t always aligned to God’s will. Sometimes our choices lead us to spouses who have sent up red flags. Sometimes choices of others leave us carrying the weight of their freedom through no fault of our own.
Even when we are abandoned by our fellow man, we are never abandoned by God (Deuteronomy 31:8). He knows our needs. God knew from the beginning human beings need others. We see this in the Book of Genesis (and in many other instances throughout the Bible). God created man to name and care for the animals, but he created woman to Love and care for man. In the perfect world, this is how it would be.
We don’t live in a perfect world though. We were cast out of the Garden of Eden to dwell with earthly abandonment.
Many will use human abandonment to justify belief that God has abandoned them too. Since the family is designed as a reflection of God’s family and God’s Love, many will use human abandonment to rationalize abandonment of God. They will not see their abandonment for what it is anymore than their spouse will see his for what it is.
Realize that the abandonment by human loved ones is not result of God’s abandonment but a result of the gift of free will, a gift even you, the abandoned, are given. Realize that, while God allows free will to embrace sin, He also has the ability to use sin for Good. Realize that earthly abandonment is freeing in many ways.
Once you are abandoned by a human loved one, you are not constrained by his beliefs. You are not held back by his weighty demands. You are not held prisoner by his limitations.
Abandonment frees you to receive the power of God’s Love and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. God never abandons you! He never leaves you brokenhearted (Psalm 34:19). He is always Hoping and waiting for your embrace.
You may have been abandoned,
But you are Never alone.
God is just waiting for you to get off your picnic table and start walking Home.
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