Uprooted Women Like Me
Finding connection in an After the Boxes Are Unpacked study group
By Gillian Clark
Picture it. I'm at a church I've never been to, trying to find my way to a room for a group study for women who are new to the area. It was all I could do to not go back to my car and drive away. Surely this was going to be just one more awkward experience to highlight my loneliness among strangers.
Just two months prior, I had moved from the east coast where I'd lived my whole life and settled in a strange desert land where grass doesn’t naturally grow and the sky is always blue. I had no family or friends here. My house was full of unpacked boxes. I didn’t have a clue who the good doctors were or even where the Wal-Mart was. I was angry at having to leave my beloved home of Raleigh, North Carolina and all my friends and family. My two young adult children, one a rising senior, had to leave all their friends behind. Even though we had to come here for my husband’s work, I was still angry at him and at the world in general. I was in despair and lost, body and soul.
Now here I was, wanting to run away, but so desperate for friends that I made myself find the room for the After the Boxes Are Unpacked study. I cautiously entered and heard, “Welcome and come in!” The room was filled with others just like me ― newcomers to the desert. Relief flooded my body and I knew I was where I needed to be. The study leader greeted me that first day with such a wonderful warm smile. A box of Kleenex was on the table and I suddenly knew I had found kinship and a safe place to fall and begin to pick myself up. Over the coming weeks, we would cry and hug and try to figure out what God’s purpose was for us in our respective moves.
As the weeks would progress, I would learn through the study that God makes no mistakes and that I was indeed in the right place in more ways than one. He knew better than I how my life should unfold and He was not “out to get me” nor would he abandon me. Indeed, I learned that I am one of his children and that He is with me every minute!
But on that first day I was not thinking either about God’s presence in my life or about his blessings. All I thought was, “Ah. Here are other women just like me.” As I watched Susan Miller share her stories in her videos during each session, I realized that she was just like me – a Southern gal missing her heritage and her roots.
It was only much later that I was able to see God’s handiwork in my move and in the lives of the other women in the class. Now things don’t look as bleak, due in large part to that study group. I know that if I hadn’t had that group, I might still be lying in bed wondering how I was going to face the day. God knew just what I needed and He provided it through the study and those women. I am now co-leading the After the Boxes Are Unpacked study and taking other Bible studies at the church. I know what an impact this study had in my life and I hope to play a part in offering this blessing to other women.
Last week in our class, we were asked to think about what the best thing was about moving here. I knew the answer to that immediately. I had unpacked my boxes at my new home and my heart at my new church.
Behold, I will make something new. Now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
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