What does it feel like to be an orphan? What are the unique challenges and opportunities? And how can we learn to walk as Storm Sisters with friends who are orphans?
These questions have whirled around in my head and heart lately so today I asked a friend to join me on the blog to help us all understand how it feels to be an orphan. Claire (not her real name) is single and has no living siblings or parents or children.
So pull up a chair and a cup of coffee and listen in to our conversation.
Thank you Claire, for joining us on the blog today to share your unique story. I’m so grateful for your honesty. I’ve learned much from you.
Thanks Afton for including me in your blog project. I am honored.
Let’s jump right in. What is the hardest part of living as an orphan?
I need to take into consideration that I have absolutely no family members to fall back on. As I am getting much older, it is getting harder and harder for me to tackle all my responsibilities, i.e. making all major decisions including remodeling projects, major purchases, etc. It would be nice to have a second opinion sometimes.
I struggle to find honest people to help me do small projects in my house, things like yard work, getting Christmas decorations out of the attic and higher areas in the garage, or watching over my house when I travel.
Especially around the holidays I get really down because almost every year I have to be concerned who is willing to let me spend mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas with their family.
My biggest concern is if I ever had to go to the hospital. Even though people will offer to go with me, I would probably still feel alone because I do not have “a close” relationship with that person like a husband and wife, for example.
And what is the best part of living the way you do. Is there a best part?
I am starting to become more content in my situation; however, the occasional loneliness will always be part of my life.
It is nice that when I leave my house in the morning and come home at night, it looks the same so I have more time to study, read, or do some other things that I enjoy.
Living alone, my house is quiet all day so I can devote more time, my thoughts, and soul to God without being distracted by anyone. Since I went on a mission trip with my church this summer, God is giving me the opportunity to be involved in several other people’s lives. It all depends on my attitude and how I communicate with the Lord every day. If I focus on Him first, things will fall into place.
I know that being part of a church matters to you. How can the church join you in your unique journey?
My pastor in two sermons recently talked about including singles in family life and vice versa. He even talked about a family who gave a single young man a key to their house. He did the same. I just sat there and thought, why is it so hard in our society to pay more attention to this matter?
I know quite a few older singles; even though they have family, they are often alone as well.
I can go to Sunday school and attend all kinds of functions, but it will never replace the integration into a family setting. I would suggest that the church create a ministry where willing families are designated to invite singles for dinner once a month or be included in a family outing or function. I don’t remember when I was invited to a family function by anyone in a church.
I am a very active person and try to get involved in many other people’s lives, but by the end of the day, I am still alone and belong to no one.
And how can a friend best step into your world and become a Storm Sister?
I had a friend who did this. When I first told her my story and was really down about being alone or lonely, she willingly invited me to lunch, took me to an appointment I was dreading, and offered to take me to the doctor. Every time I lamented, she listened, and even though she could not take my burden off me, I could tell she cared deeply about me.
That gave me a lot of encouragement and security that I did have a friend who tried very hard to understand, put herself somewhat in my shoes, and did not run away after a couple of times. This, I think, is what a true Storm Sister can do—just listening or spending a couple of hours with a person to comfort them with your presence or jump in with both feet when help is needed.
Of course there are many more ways to be a Storm Sister, depending on the individual situation.
Another thing that I really cherish is when people promise something and they keep their promise. That tells me that this person is serious about his or her caring and help for me. I myself try very hard to do these things because I know how it feels to need help but also get disappointed when the promise is not kept, of course that depends on the reason why.
Years ago I was in a support group after my divorce, and our mentors were an older couple who truly acted as a Storm Sister and Storm Brother. I could call the lady at two in the morning, and she would listen to my cries and comfort me. I always tell my friends, if you need anyone even in the middle of the night, I’ll come to your rescue, and I really mean that.
Finally, a Storm Sister can help someone alone by making a phone call. Sometimes I would just like to talk to someone when I am home all day alone. If I step out for an errand and look at the 0 message upon my return, I can get disappointed that no one thought about me all day. Of course I can also pick up the phone and call someone, but most of us in single situations, especially me without any family, often feel like we would be a burden, an intrusion, or seem needy. Every relationship takes time to develop, but we all need to start somewhere, right?
Thanks so much for your time and your wise words, Claire. I’m grateful to have this honest glimpse into your life. As we wrap up the blog today, let me ask you one last question: How does your faith help you navigate each day?
The mission trip I went on has changed something in me, and I think the little devotional book, Jesus Calling, is really helping me to focus much more on God and His presence every day instead of focusing on myself.
God has opened doors for me to serve Him by bringing people into my life that need my help and that takes the focus off myself. I remind myself that He also controls my every day moves and works all things together. He is just an awesome God! And if I trust Him fully and believe that He is in control, things will work out according to His will and NOT mine. I just hope and pray that this faith of mine will continue to be strong and not waiver in any circumstance.