Blessings in Disguise
By : Renae Collins
“Say goodbye just as soon as hello
Say “I love you” just as soon as you have to go
Find comfort in everyone you know
Just as soon as you find out about tomorrow
But try not to think about your breaking heart
Try not to think your world’s falling apart
Remember all that happened, before the ending, at the start
Life passed us by like a dart.”
There’s an earthquake rumbling in my world, my life, and my solid ground, my foundation, is crumbling and wasting away with it. Ten months ago, I turned 13, and ten months ago, on my birthday, I found out I was moving to Versailles, Kentucky. We were at Faith Baptist Church that day, the church that my dad was thinking about pastoring. I remember going to the bathroom while the members voted on whether or not they wanted to call my dad to be their preacher. I walked back in to hear my dad talking about the process of how we would move down here. I knew what it meant, but my heart wouldn’t let my mind process it just yet. I eventually gained the courage to question my mom on what was going on. “We’re moving,” she whispered softly. It was then, in the middle of prayer that I broke down in tears and fell in my mother’s strong, protecting arms. Unfamiliar arms wrapped around me after service, embracing me as if I would fall faint any second. I sobbed in the arms of at least one hundred and twenty strangers that day. They all assured the same things. “It’s okay. It’ll get better! I had to move when I was your age, and I survived!” But their “comforting” words did nothing for me. They didn’t take away the burning pain that seemed to course through me. Realization was setting in.
I dreaded the next day of school when I had to tell all my friends I was leaving. They all cried as soon as I told them, not knowing what they’d do without me. Some I had known since I was five years old, others I only knew for a couple of years. Although my friends at school knew the heartbreaking news almost as soon as I did, my church members didn’t. It took my dad a month to tell Little Sewell Baptist Church, the church I’d been attending all my life, that we were leaving and he would no longer be their pastor. He’d been a pastor at that small town church for nearly seventeen years, so it was as hard for him to say as it was for everyone to accept. It was the second Wednesday of March, our monthly business meeting. I was clutching to Amy’s hand. We both knew the blow my dad was about to convey. I think Amy was one of the hardest to leave. We’d known each other since I was three, we grew up together. Her family had become mine and I never imagined leaving them until college. “I would like to announce my resignation.” There they were, the words that had been playing through my dad’s mind for the past month slipped through his lips. I fell into Amy’s arms simultaneously and we sobbed together. After service all the members came around, hugging my neck as we all cried together, some more than others. I was going to miss this place. The church had its flaws just like any other. The members bickered over mindless things and some never talked to one another, but Little Sewell Baptist Church was the place I belonged. They were my friends, my family.
The next four months prepared me for my final departure. Since the time my dad accepted the call to preach at Faith Baptist, we would go down every weekend. We weren’t going to officially move until the end of the school year, which I was thankful for. At school, I was leaving Madison, Zoe, Ciara, Shannon, Shayla… At church, I was leaving Amy, her brother Josh and her mom and dad, Karen, George, Dale, Donna, Gale, Bonnie, Alma, and a number of others, everyone I’d known since the first weeks of my life. I was leaving Gloria, too. I didn’t even think about leaving her until we packed the last box. Sweet, gentle, old Gloria. She was a lady at my church, someone I looked up to as my Grandmother. She had Alzheimer’s, though. Up until her husband died, she lived under the careful eye of Dale and Donna, her daughter and son-in-law. But after Howard died, her other daughters took her to live with them in North Carolina. She barely remembered anything, not even that Howard had died. But every time she saw me, her face radiated with happiness. “There’s my girl! How are you doing, Sweetie?” We’d have the same conversation over at least twenty times. “How’s school?”, “You’ve gotten so big!”, “You look prettier each time I see you!”, “How are your brothers? Boy, I miss them!” I loved every second of our repetitive conversation. How was she going to be able to take us moving away? Would she even remember? I couldn’t stand leaving her or leaving anyone for that matter. These were the faces I’ve seen for thirteen years, and now they were being replaced by a whole new set of faces.
Over the course of five months, I’ve grown use to these new faces, close to them even. We bought our house in July. I still cry when I think of home. I cry when I worry about my friends, when I talk to them and hear how horrible everything is going now. I cry when I get home from school sometimes. I simply don’t feel accepted here. Let’s face it, I’m shy. I’m slow to trust but I’m quick to love. I’m lucky I’ve had the guts to talk to the few people I have without getting snappy. My way of thinking is this: Everyone is out to get me. Trust no one, and I won’t get hurt. Simple as that. Maybe if I push them away, I won’t get kicked off my feet. There are a few people I’ve grown close to in school, though, but there’s no way they could ever be the same as my other friends, my family as I like to call them. Truth of the matter is, I never imagined “home” as being the one place I didn’t belong or didn’t feel accepted. My church is really supportive, though. After long, hard days at school, I can always count on my spirits being lifted every Wednesday night. They know that I’ve had a rough day, so they make sure to do something to make me happy before I go home and get to sleep. Then, every Sunday, they tell me that maybe Monday will be better and they’re praying for me. My Sunday school teacher, Mary, is someone I turn to for guidance, also. So far, she’s encouraged me the most with my transition. I couldn’t ask for a better church, but I still wish I had my old one back.
Now I’m learning to accept that my wish won’t be granted, no matter how hard I try to make it come true. The move is over and this is my home now. The earthquake is over, but I’m still feeling the aftershocks. It’s been ten months since I found out I was moving. Five months since the last day of school, the last time I saw nearly all my friends, and spoke to half of them. Five months since I saw the last beam of happiness and sunlight slip from my grip. I never thought I’d get it back again. It’s been four months since I officially moved down here, five hours away from my mountains, bountiful deer, snow clear up to my waist in late November, my dad’s ramps, all the cows in the world, and Magic Mart (which they need to get down here before I drop one on top of K-Mart). It’s been three months since I started school, but ten months since I felt like my true self. I’d look in the mirror and see an unfamiliar face looking back. This stranger had the same curly and untamable hair, same Irish green eyes with a touch of hazel in the center, and the same round, child-like face sprinkled ever so lightly with freckles. She looked like me, but a new, unrecognizable glimmer of sadness intoxicated those hazel-green eyes and round face. I changed so much in a short amount of time from a happy-go-luck girl to a girl simply going through the motions.
I felt like I lost myself on the day Faith Baptist called my dad to preach, and I just recently found myself again, better and stronger. I withheld the storm. Now, the quake is gone, the aftershocks are fading, but the pain will always be there. You must be thinking that I only look at the negatives in moving here, and as true as that might be, I see the very few positives. I have a bigger home and a closer family. Back home in West Virginia, I was never very close to my parents. Now, I feel like we can trust each other more. I have a great church. It has its flaws, yes, but the members are always there for each other and never let anything phase them. They’re headstrong for the Lord and for the members of the church. I learned who my true friends are. Those few who still keep in contact with me and I know I can still trust them with everything even though I’m so far away. I’m more confident. I can actually get up in front of my church, in front of a hundred people, and sing a hymn solo; no music, just me and my voice. Most of all, I’m closer to God. He sent a trial my way, a test, and I passed, not with flying colors, but I passed.
“Straight faced, tear stained
I’m leaving the place where I was raised
But it’s just God making room in my life
For those blessings in disguise.”