Turn right. Now drive 1.2 miles and turn left. Aight, well now it says to go 2 more miles and turn left again. I sat co-pilot with my dear friend and fellow AmeriCorps participant, Stella. We were stationed with the Red Cross in Charlotte and I was giving directions to an apartment recently affected by a house fire. Okay, now take a right, I continued.
This was back in the day pre-iphone – and GPS’s were sorta just kind of new-ish and so I had google mapped it and with paper directions in hand, I sat advising of each next turn.
YOU’VE ARRIVED!! I excitedly announced. I was pretty proud to have been guiding us, like a Boss I had taken my co-pilot title very seriously and intentionally.
But then there was a BIG PAUSE as we glanced around at all the big tall buildings of metro Charlotte.
ARRIVED? We turned to look at each other, both with completely perplexed looks on our faces.
We were supposed to be 20 miles northeast of the city and we were surely NOT there so I flipped the page back to see what I had entered and I had NOT entered the address or street and had only entered one word: Charlotte
And so that’s exactly where we were, we had arrived in the middle of “Charlotte.”
Stella looked at me. I think she may have been a tiny bit pissed. I should have. Been concerned or apologetic. Or something. I should have felt bad. Because people were counting on us to show up. And we were much later than we had informed our arrival to be. But we were so far off from our destination that I threw my hands up in the air and belly-laughed until I could not laugh any more.
In that moment, we weren’t lost, we knew exactly where we were. We just weren’t where we had expected to be....
Guide me then, God, ok? I mumbled out this morning. You’re like the Shepherd or something so guide me back to that place where I belong.
I always sorta hated the sheep n’ shepherd analogy growing up. I was told that sheep are dumb and so I always thought it meant that I was just dumb, wandering off into nomads land; some aloof, unintentional fat fluffy thing.
Or if I wasn’t just dumb, then I was at the very least lost – a poor map reader in this life. Not good at following all the Biblically instructions, it must be my sinny-sin-self that had landed me lost, sort of like the prodigal son. Gone and lost.
The saying goes that as the shepherd, God will leave his 100 to find his 1 and so I pictured this sheep miles and miles away from the flock literally about to unknowingly walk off the edge of a cliff or maybe it already had and was hanging by it’s wool from a branch on the cliff’s edge, the shepherd needing to extend his staff, meaneuver it around the sheep’s neck so as to yoink it back to safety.
I ALWAYS thought the analogy was about being in an unsafe place and then needing to be back safe. Or being lost and the shepherd finding me.
But this morning, I pictured myself WITH AND AMONG the flock.
Just not belonging.
So it’s not like I wondered off.
And I don’t feel lost. I know exactly where I am, it’s just not where I expected to be.
This is how divorce is feeling for me. Like all my hopes and dreams and all the things that I grew up thinking would just work, didn’t. And all the sheep surrounding me still have their white picket fences, but I don’t.
And so I feel like I don’t belong. Like I don’t fit, the black sheep of the flock. It’s sorta like that whole thing about how you can be in a crowded room and yet feel so alone.
Maybe I entered the wrong destination from the start? Maybe the whole point of life wasn’t to have everything JUST the way I planned, but to do my best each day with the best I have. And that’s enough. I don't know. But I’m not sure what it would look like to feel like I belong again. And so, today, this morning, I asked my Shepherd to guide me. Not find me. But guide me. That to be a black sheep was okay. That he would just walk with me in it and bring me to a place that felt like home again.
I think it’s going to be step by step, his staff guiding me in and through it. And when I can’t see two steps in front of me because all the other sheep are so close that I can’t see overhead, that I just trust his guiding touch; therein lies my comfort. That he is beside me in it. And we’ll walk, as long as we need to, until it feels ok. And if it never does, he’s still there comforting me in it.
And you? maybe you too? Maybe you feel like a black sheep? Maybe it doesn’t make sense – whatever it is? Maybe it feels so far from what you had hoped and desired? Or maybe you just are watching everyone around you have everything you had wanted or planned and so it’s hard. Like really hard to want that which “the other sheep” have.
And maybe we just can’t change it. And maybe it won’t make sense, like we’re gonna feel like a misFIT because the reality of our lives just doesn’t FIT.
Maybe we never will be able to.
But maybe it doesn’t mean we’re lost. Or dumb.
Maybe we're just human. In need of a Shepherd; a hand upon us.
Today, my deep ache for you is that in the parts of your life that feel so misfitting, you would feel your Shepherd's touch. And may that feel really, really good - a perfect sense of peace and comfort. Let the very fact that he is with you, be enough.