“When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of “ME, TOO!” be sure to cherish them.
Because those weirdos are your tribe.”
Note: This blog post is dedicated to my tribe, in no particular order:
Riley Greenberg, Ashley Yopp, Carlee Latham, Dalton Horn, Kavan Killian, Emily Perdue, Carley Christiansen, Hannah Miller, Victor Salazar, Karsten Francis, Alyssa Holcomb, Michael and Katy Burbank, Matthew Marr, Ale Campos, Shannon Barron, Emily Ryan, Dustin Grabsch, Jason McKibben, Tyler Walker, Summer Odom, Jen Strong, Theresa Murphrey, Kelli Peck-Parrott, Billy McKim, and so, so many others to name.
Thank you all for loving me so hard.
In graduate school, I often amused myself by writing inspirational quotes on the white board that hung above my office desk. One particular quote stayed on the white board for nearly all of my final semester:
THIS QUOTE was a reminder of what God had given me while I was in school: a circle of friends and mentors that became my family. My “tribe” knows me for who I am down to my core, aside from my funny quirks, aside from my last name, aside from my prior accomplishments.
The love I was shown from my tribe felt entirely undeserved yet wholly unconditional. And, it was my greatest task and honor to love them back and love them hard.
Members of my tribe continue to check on me even now as I now live a thousand miles away. On a daily basis I am still loved hard by my tribe, and it nearly breaks me on a daily basis that I am so far from them now.
But alas, here I am, trying to go on about my life without the physical presence of my tribe. While I do not know if or when I will ever get to “do life” with them again, I do think that my best chance for thriving where I am depends on finding another tribe…
To be honest though, finding another tribe feels almost impossible right now. See, tribe members can willingly stand to answer the questions that pound so loudly in my head:
Who will love me?
Who will be in my corner no matter what happens?
Who will think about calling me up when there’s a free hour or two to spare?
Who will need nothing from me except just me completely?
Who will understand what my heart beats for and longs for?
Who won’t bat an eye when I’m not exactly following social cues or norms?
Who will encourage me when the days are long and offer little hope?
Who will laugh with me when I just need comic relief?
Who will cry with me when empathy is actually the best medicine?
Who will love me, and who will love me hard?
Those are hard questions to answer.
So, how do you exactly go about finding another tribe? What’s a lone wolf supposed to do without her wolf pack?
Or, better yet, is it true that there times when you just have “buck-up” and be a one man wolf pack?
Prior to finding my tribe in Texas, I felt a lot like how I do right now: alone, awkward, insecure, and not really belonging to anyone. Graduate school lends itself to the tribal pursuit because you basically have a built-in set of similar-minded folks who were just as crazy as you were to sign-up for this kind of torture. But, I know that was not the only factor that led me to finding my tribe…
For some reason, I’m pretty sure God is wanting me to learn a lesson or two about how to go about “tribal pursuits,” and He is letting me go ahead and feel quite alone, awkward, insecure, and not belonging to anyone in the process.
“Why would God want me to suffer like this? Why must I be separated from my tribe? Why hasn’t another tribe adopted me yet?? Why would He let me feel this uncomfortable and lonely?” My whines seem strong enough to summon the finest cheeses to be served alongside my bellyaches.
“BECAUSE I NEED YOU TO KNOW HOW TO LIVE AS A ‘ONE MAN WOLF PACK’ TO BETTER LOVE YOUR TRIBE, VAL.”
WHOAH—–Pump the brakes. Did God just really make a Hangover reference?!?
Here I’ve been squirming and fighting and throwing tantrums about being away from my former tribe and not having a new tribe already in place where I am… Here I’ve been trying SO HARD to force new relationships to pacify my loneliness and grieving heart…
AND YET GOD WANTED ME TO LEARN HOW TO BE ‘ALONE’ THIS WHOLE TIME?
…That can’t be right. What good would that do for Him or me?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
I hate silence, and I really hate being (or feeling) alone. But, sometimes God needs both to happen in order to get to the deep stuff in our hearts and minds.
As I have had more time this semester than ever before to reflect, read, paint, cook, and simply think by myself, I’ve come to know God a bit more by His loving, gentle character. He’s shown me just how strong and resilient He intends for me to be in Him and Him alone.
Furthermore, God has been kind enough to bring forth random connections with new friends here to keep me motivated and hopeful about potential tribe members.