Suddenly Alone

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{Editor’s Note: Before today’s wonderful post, I want to let everyone know our daily articles may experience changes over the next month. Instead of Monday – Friday, we will be posting on a reduced level due to health issues within our staff. You might have noticed we have had some issues–both technical and health–that have not allowed us to post on our regular schedule recently. Please remember Mentoring Moment’s staff in prayer for health and for the Lord’s writing creativity. In addition, if you would like to submit an article, favorite recipe, or craft project, please do. We love publishing your articles. Our theme of Family @ Full Strength will continue through June. Blessings, Kellie}

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Our three years in West Virginia were hard. The other 2,500 residents of the small town we moved to, saw us as outsiders. Having come from Ohio, we were “yankees” – a derogatory term in the South, and those around us considered themselves southerners.

Being the principal of a Christian school is much like being the pastor of a church. You are at the mercy of ever-changing boards and varying personalities. My husband, Jerry was the principal of the town’s only Christian school. Disciplining board members’ children is like playing Russian roulette and Jerry got the loaded chamber.

Two days before our daughter, Angel, graduated from high school, Jerry was let go as principal. That meant we’d be moving. All of her hard work in finding the right college—just the right distance from home—was for naught. Where would God have us go? Now “home” for her would never really be her home.

The Lord opened a door for Jerry in Raleigh, NC. The distance from Angel’s college was still good. Alex, her brother would start his senior year at his new Christian high school in August, and Jerry would be the principal. We agreed that I would stay in WV until our house sold.

We took Angel to college on a Saturday. I cried all the way home. My heart was broken. My baby girl, my firstborn was gone. We left her there among strangers—something we as parents learn never to do, but now it was encouraged.

The next day, Sunday, Jerry and Alex left for NC. Within three days, I went from a noisy house of teenagers preparing to move away to a deathly quiet house with just our dog, cat, rabbit, and me. Suddenly, I was alone. I was only 36 years old—too young to be alone so suddenly. My chest physically ached.

I busied myself with packing boxes. Keeping only a few dishes out for my personal use and that of Jerry and Alex for their weekend visits, boxes quickly piled up. I stored them in Angel’s bedroom. Walking into that room brought certain tears. The long shelves Jerry had put up for her doll collection seemed to scream, “She’s gone!” when I entered the room. The more it looked like a storeroom, the better I felt. I gave her daybed away and leaned the mattresses up against boxes. Now, it was a bedroom no more.

On the wall in the guestroom was a huge map of the United States. I marked where my “baby girl” was, where my “baby boy” and husband were, and where I was. I’d stand and stare at the seemingly short distance amid the triangle of dots. My stomach felt hollow and my chest hurt. I couldn’t swallow food past the lump in my throat. I exercised, drank soup, and lost weight; something I didn’t need to do.

Jerry and I had grown to love a sweet couple there. They were from Wisconsin and we “yankees” commiserated together. Between visiting with them and packing boxes, I tried to fill my days. Being alone in a town where no one liked me was terribly lonely. God finally had my undivided attention. “Lord, did it take this to get my attention? How thick-skulled I must be!”

Each morning I audibly greeted Jesus. I felt our realtors weren’t trying very hard to sell our house. I knew God was our true Realtor and I’d plead for that to be the day He sold our house. Every Monday I’d say, “It’s a new week, Lord. Please sell this house this week!” Each Friday I’d say, “Today’s the last day of the week, Lord. I know you can sell this house today!”

Summer turned to fall. Every morning I’d roll over and grab my Bible before my feet hit the floor. I’d read from His word and listen to what He wanted to tell me. I kept a running conversation going with Him throughout the day—aloud. My pets thought I was talking to them.

I grew spiritually more during those three and a half months than the previous 15 years in my Christian walk. I learned what it meant when God says “no.” I learned that He loves me for who I am; I should change for Him alone. He didn’t see me as a yankee, just as His daughter. I learned that if people choose not to love me for who I am, it’s all right.

With Thanksgiving approaching, Jerry and I decided I should move to NC and let the realtors show the house empty. God would help us handle the financial burden of two mortgages.

It was so nice to be with my family again. However, without Angel’s presence, I still ached with the reality of my empty nest. It would take two and a half years for that house to sell and even longer for the dull pain and emptiness in my chest to subside.

Alex graduated and joined Angel at college. While that was another hurdle for me, it was the shock of that first sudden, totally empty nest that really threw me. However, God used that time to reach me, teach me, and help me grow. How could I ever regret that?

My children are out of college now and are my adult friends. My growth has made me a better model of Christ’s mercy and love. God’s ways are not our ways, but He always knows best. He is the best Teacher!

About Kelly Stigliano

Kelly J. Stigliano has been a speaker and writer for over 25 years. She and her husband of over 30 years, Jerry, enjoy life in Orange Park, FL. To learn more, visit www.kellystigliano.com.

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