About a year ago, when the land across the road was for sale, I thought about how great it would be to buy it and create a homestead for women and their children who had been in abusive relationships. I think it would be so healing for them to be out in the country, working with the goats and chickens, breathing fresh air, running through pastures. One of these days, I hope to figure out how to make that happen.
Yes, it was a big dream -- a million-dollar dream -- and how could I ever hope to make something like that happen? But it was not something that just popped into my head when I read that article. It's something that I've been thinking about ever since I heard about Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life, (which I still haven't read) and started asking myself what am I uniquely qualified to do? What special gifts do I have that fit together perfectly to create something that the world needs?
I love my life out here, but I don't think that I will ever be remembered for saving a rare breed of livestock from extinction. I will never make millions selling organic food. I think I did a good job raising my children, but they're almost grown, so they don't require all the hours they did 10 years ago. There is a part of my life that I tend to forget or ignore, but then Someone comes along and seems to say, "Did you forget where you came from?"
I was sexually abused for my entire childhood and had an abusive boyfriend in high school. I "ran away" 2,000 miles to college and rarely looked back. I was a statistic, but I was one of the "lucky" ones -- with the love of a good husband and the help of a few good therapists (and good insurance), I was able to overcome a past that could have destined me for a life of self destruction.
Every now and then as I am happily living my middle-class life with all its many blessings, someone comes along and makes me think about how far I've come. That's exactly what's happened these past few days and why you haven't heard from me since Sunday. That's when I met a woman who is a victim of domestic abuse, and I invited her to come stay with us. Over the past couple days, we listened to her, walked with her in the pastures, and introduced her to all the animals. She laughed when four goats piled on top of her as she sat down in the grass and Coco the goat learned to unzip her jacket pocket. When Mike got home last night, he told me she looked a lot happier and more relaxed than when she arrived. I agreed.
Today it was time to take her back to a world of court rooms, restraining orders, and police reports. She smiled and laughed as she told others about the goat unzipping her jacket pocket, a stark contrast to her demeanor when talking about her own life. She thanked me for letting her stay with us, and she offered to help with the animals whenever we might need it. I gave her an escape plan in case her ex ignores the order of protection again. She said she'd follow it.
Ever since I started thinking about my personal gifts and all the things I love -- talking and listening to people, living out here with the animals, being understanding and passionate about abuse survivors -- I didn't think I could do anything because I didn't have the budget to create something big like the homestead I mentioned in my NY Times comment. Then it occurred to me that I don't have to do something big. I can do something small. I can help one single woman. So, my million-dollar dream has been downsized. But my little dream is something I can accomplish. Just because I can't help 20 or 30 women today does not mean that I shouldn't do what I can to help one. And then I can help another . . . and another.
I don't have a concrete plan yet, but amazingly enough, people are coming into my life to help with this. Someone emailed me recently after reading my NY Times comment from last year, asking if I was doing anything and how she could help. And today I walked into my church just to kill some time, and several women were watching a video lecture on domestic violence. It's almost a little scary the way all these things are falling together, but I'm starting to understand why I'm here and what I should be doing.