I took a trip last week to a town in the middle of nowhere Illinois, called DuBois. I had heard about a weekend get-a-way from friends for singles, and finally decided that I would give it a try. I was very leery to say the least, I had attempted to get involved in different groups and connect and would show up to activities to realize the mean age of participates was 75. Yes I’m getting older, and I may not be a spring chicken anymore…but I did not yet fit into the qualifications of that age bracket. I do not yet have AARP as my primary insurance.
What I found in DuBois was a sanctuary. Yes, there were individuals ranging from age 25-72, but it did not feel like age gaps were there. It was a very large family that had gathered together with a common element that drew them to this place in the woods…we were all single. Some divorced, some widowed, and some never married but we all held the same stamp on our resume and tax forms. There were no barriers…we were in a “safe zone” where the walls could come down and we could expose the daily struggles and feelings without recourse.
The weekend consisted of morning church services, afternoon free time, an evening service then evening activities of a bonfire and hayride. The setting was a beautiful lake that offered the activities of pontoon rides, canoeing, and for some unfortunate individuals who rocked the boat a little to much swimming. There was horseback riding and walking trails, along with volleyball, basketball, and ping-pong. Or you could just sit and soak up the peacefulness of the scenery on one of the many benches that were along the boardwalk that overlooked the lake.
I went searching for answers, friends, and peace…and God gave all three. Transparency is not an easy thing for me, I keep my feelings and thoughts locked up and rarely talk to anyone due to trust issues and fear of letting anyone in to close. I had a situation in my life that I walked into willingly, knowing ramifications and results that could result. What I did not understand or grasp when I started on the journey was that I would learn the lesson of what felt like betrayal, which turned into broken bonds of trust, by a best friend and later a family member. I already had trust issues, but when someone that is supposed to be your best friend, and then someone that is family who is supposed to have your back no matter what breaks the bond of trust…it can leave a solid wall with a firmly locked door, not open to anyone.
I have spent two and a-half years of my life immersed in school and obtaining my RN license, when I came out of the bubble I lived in of stress, homework, clinicals, and books I realized that the world had went on without me and all my friends had gotten married and started having children. Kudos to them…but that left me with my job and not much else in my little town that closes down at 9:00 pm. On the heels of broken trust and being alone, I started questioning life, God, and if it was all ‘worth it”. I let flesh tell me that the whole “church” thing really wasn’t what it was cracked up to be; maybe what I had been taught all my life was not really required or ‘needed’. I would look around at individuals who was basically living how they wanted and claiming to be a Christian. And yes, I understand that in Phillippians 2:12 we are told to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”, and people have different ideas of what is required and what it will take. I knew in my head what I believed, but my heart was doubting. I still attended church and was involved because though I was floating, searching, and trying to make sense of where I found myself…I realized that that was where my strength came from. I talked to my pastor after he preached some sermons that was basically stating “shape up because we are soon going to ship out”…I then was praying to be content and accepting.
Do I have steps to take to be what I want to be…yes. But at DuBois I found friends that were there looking for connections too. I found peace daily when I stepped outside the doors and soaked up the serenity of the lake and went to church services. God let me know that He is real, He has plans, it is worth it…and most of all that He can be trusted. I may not have a life map in front of me, but I know that He is my compass. I still have a path to journey down, and I may still have days that I don’t understand and I question…but I think that that is part of life in general.
I do know one thing though…I am glad that I went to the town in the middle of nowhere to find a sanctuary and I am looking forward to seeing where I go from here. It is a daily process and journey, and I look forward to taking it a step at a time.