Reach

I was screaming.

Lying on the dance studio floor, lights out, next to a dozen other students, screaming as loud as my lungs would allow for my lost mother, father, sister and brother.

It was my sophomore year of high school and my best friend Harper had talked me into my first-ever audition for the Fall dramatic play, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”, based on a little girl’s experience at the concentration camp in Terezin.  To the surprise of many, and yet mostly myself, I landed the lead role:  Raja Englanderova.

It became a defining moment in my life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a hypersensitive heart.

Long ago, when it rained, I used to tape plastic containers over the top of the ant hills that formed along the walkway to our house.  I didn’t want them to drown.

And when another experienced a loss, it felt like my own.  I mourned, as if I had known them well, too.

I felt deeply but was mocked, shamed and criticized for it.

They thought I wanted attention, when all I ever really wanted was to lend my oversized heart.

To reach.

I ended up leading two more plays in high school and when it came time to graduate, I asked my drama teacher to write me a parting note.

And what he said has never left me:

“Give to the world your deeply felt heart.”

Well, World, here it is!

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Seeker

I saw her.  A quick flash passing through the blinds. I knew I had to move fast.  No time for shoes.  I wrangled open the stubborn door from the kitchen to the garage, flew down the steps and threw open the door to our driveway.  She was almost to the corner of the street when I yelled, “Hey!  Hi!  My name is Lauren and we just moved here a few weeks ago!”  My target was hugely pregnant, which is precisely why I had marked her.  “We’ve got two little girls, ages 6 months and 2 years.  We can be friends!”

Since then, I introduced myself to a young family sitting on their front stoop at Halloween and, on bicycle, high-speed pursued another mother strolling her twins in the back of our neighborhood.  All three have become some of the very best friends I’ve ever had.

Having moved from a very close-knit community full of young families, my husband and I feared we had made a huge mistake by moving to an older, established neighborhood.  While the lack of sidewalks and larger lots added desirable privacy, they also secluded us.  We were an island, until I swam.

Seeker.

I spent the majority of my childhood as a loner.  I had friends here and there, but had never experienced the love and support of a group like others on sports teams and sororities.  I saw group photos on Facebook and longed for my own.

Perhaps all it took was my desperation as a stay-at-mother to force me to seek.  After meeting my new friends, I organized monthly socials to be held at each of our respective houses, providing an opportunity for us to familiarize our tastes, our stories.  It worked.

With the addition of a friend I used to teach with, I’ve finally found my group and it is everything I had ever hoped it would be.

When my husband and I had to leave for the hospital at 4 AM to deliver our fourth daughter, it was that first pregnant neighbor who rushed over to stay at home with our three girls.  It was my school friend who relieved her.  It was the mother I met at Halloween who took my kindergartner to school and the mother of the twins who watched our others while I labored on.  Together, they seamlessly took my place as we welcomed sweet Elizabeth into the world.

Matthew 7:7 reads “Seek and ye shall find.”

I was lonely until I overcame my insecurities and Ran. Pedaled. Tried.  And it was there that I smiled, laughed and exhaled for finding what I had been looking for all along. My friends.

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