Alone in the Crowded Room of Friendly Faces
By Thea Coker
There we were, a room full of nicely dressed women sitting around large tables, in the church fellowship hall of one of the largest Baptist churches in town. Everyone was chatting with their neighbor and waiting for the blessing so we could go to the buffet line at the front of the room.
I felt so alone that day, in the room full of friendly faces.
I thought to myself, “Thea, what are you doing here? You don’t belong here! I’m sooo not like these other women. God help me!” I am a divorced woman, married to a divorced preacher in the Bible belt and now I am a PREACHER’S WIFE! How did I get here?”
Preacher’s wives don’t talk about their husbands in front of other preacher’s wives, they talk about their children. I was sitting there quietly listening to several conversations around me. Some of them were discussing what was going on in their child’s private Christian school, some were discussing home schooling issues, and others were discussing what was going on in their child’s sports events. The older ladies were talking about their church plans for Bible School coming up that summer and the Women’s programs at their church. I just sat there and smiled and listened. I didn’t know anyone.
Again, I ask myself, “What am I doing here?”
Smiling at the lady across the table, with my most used fake smile, I think, “Lady, if you only knew what was going on in my life right now, you’d also say; What is SHE doing here?”
My oldest daughter left home that year to go live with her alcoholic father. It was the worst day of my life. She was only 15, my beautiful baby girl. I’ve missed her every second since she left home. Out of the blue, she called me crying, to tell me she’s pregnant. My heart is so shredded now in constant pain; I can hardly breathe, much less, muster any small talk with these women. I want to run…run away from everyone. I’m sure none of these preachers’ wives understand what I’m going thru in their little “Everything’s Rosie world”!
I recognize these feelings I’m having. Sadness, fear, anxiety, anger and the biggie… loneliness. I lived for many years in this silent place in my head, while I was married to an alcoholic. My preacher husband tries to console me, but he has no clue what a mother feels. So, I’m alone in my pain.
“Get it together Thea. Don’t cry here at the table. Smile! Ask about their kids and maybe they won’t ask about yours.”
I think my love for my children is the hardest idol to surrender. I know I should love God the most in my life and I do want to, but to love our unseen God more than the child I can see and touch, is a lifelong struggle to surrender. We don’t know when it happens, but in an instant, a life is being formed within us, to be nurtured in our womb, and carried in our heart forever. As our child grows, we know that there is a living being within us… but it is not us. The months go by and we feel the tiny movements in our womb and we watch as little hands and feet push out eager to escape into the big outside world.
My mother wasn’t thrilled when she found out she was pregnant with me. She thought she was too old but she accepted that her baby was a gift from God. My mother told me that she prayed for me and sang to me while she was pregnant. I too have prayed and sang to my children when we were still one.
After a while, they leave us, bleeding, they are expulsed from our body, and as the Bible says,” in pain we bring forth our child.” I think many times loving mothers often live their life in pain, bleeding as we see what we have no control over, wanting to protect them from all harm. I’m bleeding today; my heart torn apart as I watch my precious baby girl live the life she has chosen. She, like most children, thinks she knows everything. Just like I did. Foolish little girls.
My Mama always pointed me to God’s Word. She told me I needed to learn to LIVE in His Word. His Word would not return void. She said His Word was like rain that would water seeds and produce growth in His timing…a harvest for the Glory of God. Yes, I have seen a harvest of joy in my life since I’ve learned to live in Gods promises, but it’s seems harder to do when it comes to your babies. The FEAR of the unknown is crippling but at least I finally learned where to run to… I run to Psalm 139.
So often I wake up in the middle of the night, with my mind in a frenzied terror of what is happening to my baby that I can’t even breathe. Where is she? What is she doing? Who is influencing her? Why God, Why? And there it is again, FEAR, a lifelong enemy has me by the neck dragging me down a road I know too well. Where do I go to, in the middle of the night when darkness smothers the life from me?
I remember my Mama’s voice… “Thea, run to Jesus…run to his Word.”
So I do, in the middle of the dark nights and also now, sitting here in this crowded room of friendly faces, my heart remembers His Word to me from Psalm 139.
1 ‘O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2 You know when I sit or stand. When far away you know my every thought. 3 You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. 4 You know what I am going to say before I even say it. 5 You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head. 6 This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe! 7 I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. 9 If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. 11 If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. 12 For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you. 13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! 17-18 How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me.[a] And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!”
This life my daughter has chosen is not the one I ever wanted for her, but here we are, so how can I glorify You Lord, as I walk this path with her? I know from experience when I’m living in constant pain, it’s not a place I want to live alone. My mama said I am never alone and I need to surrender everything to God. I must NOT cling to my will or my desires. I must offer them all to you Lord, with open hands and faith that looks only to You and prays, “Not my will, but Yours be done”.
Once again, I say, “Yes to You God. I surrender.”
All of a sudden, things appear different. I can breathe a little easier. My smile feels real again. I know God has a plan, much better than mine. The entrance of your Word brings light… Darkness flees!
“Thank You Lord for all these friendly faces and for all the children represented here around this table. Pour Your grace and mercy out to these women and their families. Help me to live a transparent life because I know there is NOT an “Everything’s Rosie World”. PAIN comes to all of us one time or another. Help me to always look to You and Your Word and give me words to point others to YOU, the source of all joy and to live in expectant faith to see Your glory put on display.”
In the meantime, I am resting, as I am learning to live ONE DAY at a time, ONE STEP at a time, enjoying your gifts of grace in EVERY day.
“And God, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for this precious little life, my very first grandchild, Your Gift of Grace! Bless this little child within my own little child. I trust YOU!” You know BEST.
It’s been over 21 years since the day I sat alone, with a mother’s bleeding heart, in a room full of preacher’s wives. I’m still a preacher’s wife but a retired one now. What a journey! I didn’t have a clue, when we said, “I do”! Preacher’s wives certainly don’t live in an “Everything’s Rosie World”! We live in a world FULL of tribulation but it’s our Fathers world, where He is ALWAYS working ALL things together for GOOD! But He’s NOT in a hurry. We must learn to be still, surrender, be patient and wait on the Lord.
My little mixed up baby girl? Well, she made the biggest decision of her life. Out of LOVE, she surrendered her baby for adoption to a Christian couple that had prayed for years for a child. It was the hardest day of our lives as we went thru this together. My beautiful baby girl gave birth to her beautiful baby girl and placed her in the empty arms of another mother. And we grieved and cried in our emptiness while they celebrated in their fullness. God’s will was done. Thru the years, as my heart grieved and I felt the loss, I often prayed Psalm 139 for her and her family, knowing that the Lord was with them and His plan always works all things together for the good for His children. Silently, in my prayers, I would ask God, “Would you let me live long enough to finally meet my first granddaughter?”
It’s been a long wait! But God has answered my prayer. What AMAZING grace! That very special place of love in my heart that held a precious baby girl, my first grandchild, was opened wide to a beautiful young woman I could SEE and HUG and LOVE…once again… God’s gift of grace! Thank You, God!
Let’s talk about it…
- 1. Are you weary from praying for something or someone because the outcome looks hopeless?
- 2. Are you tired of being in God’s waiting room? Has this testimony of God’s grace and God’s perfect timing encouraged you to keep at it?
- 3. Do you have an “as long as I am breathing” commitment to interceding in prayer for God’s will to be done?