For this extrovert, a huge part of what makes our lives so very beautiful are the people in it. Our wedding was the first time I really noticed that I place a high value on relationships with people…the presence of all those people who came together to celebrate Joel and I…it warmed my heart more than any material gift they could have given us that day.
My Mother-in-law, a former Methodist pastor, married us 11 years ago. She presented us with a piece of rope- beautiful, soft and burgundy. She discussed Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. Though a common verse used at weddings, her insight to it was new to me. I had previously been presented with the idea that the three stranded cord was the bride (me), the groom (Joel), and God. Yes, of course, I do agree God should be entwined with the bride and the groom. But the three cords presented to us on our wedding: Us, God, and the crowd of people surrounding us.
Eleven years. We have been married eleven years. It feels like two years and it feels like a hundred. I feel young and ancient all at the same time. This year we celebrated our anniversary by taking a stroll in a lovely downtown on a balmy November night, followed by a delicious meal. My in-laws babysat Jonah. They all live so far away…we celebrate Thanksgiving together every year- one of my favorite family traditions. There we were, surrounded by family- These people, who love each other. This family, who, when one of its members lives hundreds of miles away, makes a tradition out of seeing them.
When you’re born into a family, it’s just normal…these are the people you grew up with and grew in to. When you marry into a family it’s different; usually it’s harder. I am so very aware that few people feel about their in-laws the way I feel about mine. These people – who I would have picked to be a part of my family if I could have picked from anyone in the world – I love them. I am supported by them. They love well. If Jonah gets married, I hope he has in-laws who love him as well as mine do me.
My own family…my mom and sister…I cannot even tell you. One of my first blog posts was about my mom, a woman who has been my biggest fan my whole life. And my sister…who, in our adulthood has become one of my best friends. I like being near her more than anyone else in the world.
I have these friends…with whom I can have conversations that matter- about our hearts, and social justice, and Jesus, and food. Not once have they made me feel like I need to wear any kind of mask around them- because my messiness does not make them uncomfortable. They are silly, funny, and sincere-dare I say they are world changers. I am fortunate to know them.
I go to this church…full of real people. The best way I can describe it is that these people are all broken and being mended. They are a motley crew…and I adore them.
And this isn’t just in my personal life…on a very regular basis, at my job, I have these valuable “life talks” with my colleagues, and with these college kids whom I adore…as old lady as it makes me sound, they give me hope in the future…they are…passionate, intelligent, Jesus lovers.
My step dad once observed about me that I “gathered people. Wherever I went.” He was right. And these people have become my buoys- life preservers in a life that sometimes makes no sense.