A little over a week ago, I began a new journey in this wild, roller-coaster-gone-off-its-rails life of mine. A new chapter that seems to place the coaster solidly back on it’s track.
Last Monday, my daughter and I arrived in Lynchburg, Virginia to begin a new life together.
I was homeless for 4 ½ of the past 6 years and I’ve been divorced for almost 14 years now. In all that time, I lived with one goal...the day she’d come to live with me. It didn’t happen the way I had thought it might. When I laid out my life map, I didn’t see the detour through homelessness. I didn’t see the “Man Under Construction” signs. I didn’t see 4 ½ years where she couldn’t spend the night, I couldn’t tuck her in, or make her breakfast.
But God did.
There is a lot for me to digest, now that this is over. The first two days we were here I found myself sneaking off to my room, many times, to break down into sobs where she couldn’t see me. First it was the pain I felt that my daughter is with me, and that means she’s 500 miles from her mom. It had to be this way –which angers me on several levels- but her mom knew this was the best thing for her and she agreed to let her come here. We haven’t gotten along for much of our post divorced life, but I have to give her credit for doing what is best for our daughter on this.
Still...it seemed like the first two days here drew a giant exclamation point on the fact that I am divorced. That my daughter has never really known an intact family. I was broken hearted. This was not the dream I had for my little girl when she was born.
Then too, I think I wept so frequently during those first few days, because I was finally able to say I was formerly homeless. Over the past six years this had become my identity. I wore this like a holocaust cloak and it grew heavier every day. In my gut I still have a nagging fear that something bad might happen, and I’ll be homeless again. Maybe this is what those folks who lived through the Depression felt...never again feeling like they had enough security, no matter how much money or food they could stockpile, or how far ahead they could pay their bills. I suppose that’s not an entirely bad thing, it will keep you hungry, and make you smarter with what you have. But there is no rest there.
And I need rest.
This thing has worn me down to a nub and I feel the effects. I hope the old happy-go-lucky Craig reappears someday soon. Mostly...I hope my prayer life can be restored. I don’t pray for myself very much. I have a hard time trusting God to do the things I need done each day, and so I take the burden onto my stout shoulders and find my own way. I guess the combination of Immigrant grandparent work ethic, having success at most stages in my life, (before the mortgage collapse) and the haunting feeling of being alone in this world, drives me to find a solution as fast as I can. I have a terrible time with looking at a problem and saying “Okay Lord, I don’t have an answer...it’s up to you.”
I have to have an answer. I’m a dad. My daughter is depending on me to have one. If I fail this time she goes down with me. That wakes me up at night.
I feel numb. I thought that when this long desert was over I’d have a lot to say about it, but –at least right now- I don’t. I can barely string my thoughts together where my life as a homeless dad is concerned. It’s all a blur. A long, embarrassing, agonizing, shameful, painful blur. The only thing I know, that I know...is that God is good. God was always with me in this, and somehow the pieces will come together and this puzzle with take on a shape and ultimately it will have a purpose. That last statement just brought me to tears. Because over the past 6 years, when I have raged in the night, shook my fist at heaven, barked out my anger, demanded that God tell me “What the &^%$ do you want from me?!” (which I had literally screamed at the top of my lungs more than once during this debacle) and once or twice imagined myself walking up to His throne and punching Him right in the face, (yes...I’m sorry but I got that angry with Him sometimes) I always fell back on that one truth. That one lifesaving truth that reminded me that God was not surprised by my calamity, and that He still loved me. Sometimes He just has a funny way of showing it. But He is good. He had a plan all along and I am blessed enough to still be alive to see it playing out. I don’t know what lies ahead. I do know that my daughter is along for this portion of the ride and that gives me hope.
Which I haven’t had in a long time.
The journey continues...