Do you remember Cast Away with Tom Hanks? I remember watching this movie at the theater with Julie back in 2000. I remember being in total amazement during the middle eighty minutes of almost complete silence. No dialogue and no music, only the sounds of Chuck Noland (Hanks) trying to survive. It wasn’t until he created a relationship with Wilson the volleyball that he actually talks again.
Chuck Noland (No Land) was alone on that island for four years. As far as he was concerned, the world had completely stopped. He kept a photo of his girlfriend, Kelly (Hunt), through the entire time he was on that island as a reminder of the life he had left behind and would be returning to. When he did finally return back to civilization, he was greeted by a world he no longer understood. Fire was just a finger pull away. Seafood was no longer a delicacy. His girlfriend had a new life with a different man. He missed the funeral of his best friend’s wife. Nothing was as he had left it. He was going to have to start over. Eventually he found himself at a major crossroads with no idea where he was going to go next. At the end, Chuck was alone all over again.
I took the above photo yesterday during church service. Jessica asked me if she could go forward and worship at the stage. This is something many of the youth do frequently. I was struck by the distance she kept between herself and the other youth worshiping. I’m not sure how intentional it was, but it was extremely symbolic of how Jessica is feeling inside right now. I desperately wanted a friend or sister to run up there and be by her side. Nobody did. It’s not because they don’t love her. It’s because they don’t understand her. They don’t understand what ten months in a group home is like. They don’t understand what months of isolation can do to someone’s relationships.
For Jessica, time has stopped while she has been on her own island. For everyone else, time marched on. Relationships have come and gone. Classes have started and finished. Gossip has moved from subject to subject. New news is old news, and old news is ancient news. Jessica is now a stranger in a world she knew for fifteen and-a-half years, and nobody gets it.
Jessica needs friends and family in a unique way now. She needs a different kind of love from those who love her most. She needs a love that puts effort into understanding the isolation she has had to endure. She needs a love that keeps her informed of the changes that have happened in her absence. She needs a love that stands between her and someone who would roll their eyes at her lack of knowledge. She needs a love that can sit in her presence and give her undivided attention.
Jessica needs the kind of love that reminds her that, unlike Chuck Noland, she is not alone.