When I first moved in my home last fall, it wasn't long before the winter came with all its chill and howling winds. One night, I heard a cry outside. I knew it was the call of a cat but I couldn't see where it was coming from. I turned out every light in my living room so I could see better into the darkness outside, and I waited as I looked.
The cry came again. This sound pierced into my gut and made me want to help. It was a call of distress, the cat wanted the warmth of the inside and the comfort of the radiating heat.
I spotted him. There. Tucked in along the hedges, a natural blocking for the wind, he was all curled up.
He called and cried and broke my heart. I was pouting to my husband "We have to do something!". The lonely cat made his way beneath my van and tucked in behind the tire. Still, he called.
I placed a box on my porch with a blanket and some food. I created a shelter for him but it seemed it was too much to ask of him. He refused the comfort for lack of trust and continued to hide himself away under my van for a few nights. I even moved the box to the very spot he sat on the sidewalk and still, he refused..
After those nights, he was gone. I had hoped someone took him in or he found his way home. I worried about him. Yes. I worried about a stray cat.
But this morning, in the thick of spring weather, he was walking in my yard and hunting for birds. He looked a bit thin so again, I wanted to help. "Why can't I just go scoop him up and bring him in, show him family, and fill his belly?"
The truth is, he wouldn't let me if I tried. He's accustomed to being alone. He trusts loneliness more than a stranger with an outstretched hand. Even if I knelt down low, holding out my palm, and spoke gently to him, he would eventually dash off. I know because I've attempted this before.
Really, my whole life I've been doing this; finding stray animals as a child and wanting to care for them. I must have driven my parents crazy! Crickets, toads, dogs, cats, wounded birds, and I'm sure more than these - I would bring them inside or put food on my porch to lure them into joining my family.
I was like this with people too. I would find the lonely and broken and want to make them family. As a child, my Sunday School teachers would bring new children to sit beside me because even they saw this trait in me and knew I would want to help them feel at home. As I grew, I was sometimes hurt by these wounded people I would befriend because I would wear my heart on my sleeve and love them full on - even as they took advantage or mistreated me and my wide open heart.
And again, I feel this need to bring people in and make them family. As I watched that cat in my yard, I wondered how many people were wandering right then. People who are accustomed to loneliness. People who would lash out and try to hurt you if you got too close. People who run from community and maybe not even out of fear, but out of their habit of isolation.
My heart aches because I too chose isolation at a season in my life. I felt that my new marriage, followed by a first born child was my "picture perfect" and I didn't need anyone. I isolated myself and allowed my friends to only see what I wanted them to see...if I saw them at all. The more time I spent alone, the more I believed the lie that I should be alone...because the world had surely moved on from me.
Friend, if it's you that came to my mind this morning, don't believe that lie. The world hasn't moved on from you. No. The world is missing you and that thing that only you can bring to the community. The world is missing your unique qualities because no one else can fill your shoes.
I'm praying that God would fill your heart with whispers of the amazing and beautiful person you are and why He made you. I'm praying that He shows you what it is that He created you with and gives you a first step toward using those things. I'm praying that He wipes away the insecurities and the lies and as those things are exposed, know that He will wrap you up in a blanket of love and peace. You're safe. It's safe.
Come and sit next to me. Be family with me. Let me tell you, no matter how long it's been, it's so good to see you. I'm happy you're here.
Love, Your Sister,