Naomi was a widow in the bible. Her husband and her sons died.
Naomi was bereft. The verse specifically uses that word.
Anyway, she was a widow and her children were gone, but she had two daughters-in-law. One was named Ruth.
Some of my most favorite lines in scripture come from Ruth. Naomi tries to tell her daughters-in-law to go on without her. To return to their own homes. Leave her be - in her hurt, in her great sadness. She tried to push them away.
They wept together.
And then Ruth.
My favorite champion Ruth.
She stood in front of her mother-in-law and she said nope. Not today, kid. In some of the most poignant, fierce words, she says, "Don't make me leave you. Wherever you're going, I'm going. Wherever you're living, I'm going to live there, too. Your people will be my people - my tribe. We're going to love the same Jesus, and when you die, well. I'm gonna to die, too."
And so she stayed. Loyal. Firm. Resolved. Unwavering. And Naomi? She believed her.
Bestie Betsy and I - when things are bad ... when life is rough and one of us is in some kind of deep, deep dark place ... we check in with these verses.
Where you go, I go.
Where you live, I'll live.
Your people, they're my people.
It's a hush. A quiet. A warm outstretched hand and a head nod. It's an, "I know it sucks right now, but the good is coming," in a way that each of us seem to understand.
It's a call to the other that we're not alone. Never alone.
You know, I'm not really a relationship expert. I suppose one failed marriage doesn't exactly give you street cred when it comes to telling people how to do it right.
Just ... but.
When I think about more.
When I think about people doing life ... permanently ... forever ... with someone else, I think of Ruth.
Someone that will always bat on your team even if you suck at baseball and don't know what RBI stands for.
Someone that will help you with the hard decisions, that will help you hang the pictures straight, and will help you get over your hurts.
Someone that will be in the same room with you and thirty other people, but will always ... always ... be searching for you.
Someone who hits their knees hard for you - someone that joins you on the floor.
Someone that keeps your secrets safe in their chest. Someone that encourages you, pushes you, makes you want to do better.
Someone that won't leave when it sucks the most. Someone that just ... stays.
Someone that says that you're enough ... worth it.
Worth the more.
Today ... I'm celebrating Ruth. Ruth and her brave heart.
It's almost March.
It's almost March and there are 1,000 things that I haven't told my seniors that I wish I could. If I could - if there weren't expectations, scholarships, objectives, standards, tests ... I would stop. Hold my hands up in front of class, circle their desks, and we would talk.
I would tell them things like travel.
I would tell them things like separate your laundry even if you think you don't have to.
I'd teach them to apologize. How to look at someone else in the eye, how to apologize, and how to not sneak in a tiny little but on the end. I'd teach them to rest in the quiet after they speak their I'm sorry, and I'd teach them how to absorb the consequences of the hurt they caused.
I'd teach them to not stop in the middle of doorways. In the middle of aisles. In the middle of the escalator.
I'd teach them to never stop in the middle.
I would have them take their phones out of their pockets, out of their backpacks, and we'd take a hard look at social media. We'd talk about what is appropriate to shove out into the world. We'd talk about how that stuff never goes away and we'd talk about the value in an argument online. We'd talk about how wars of words in print never really go away.
I would look at every single one of them and I'd tell them that they will know the heartbreak of loss -- if they haven't already yet experienced it. One day, they'll lose someone dear. We would talk about grace. We would talk about how it will harden the leather of their chest wall -- we would talk about the practice of love. Practicing love. The only way to loosen the leather. To loosen the hurt.
I would tell them that some days they're going to feel like they're drowning. No matter how much they think they have it together. No matter how accomplished they think they are. How smart. How tenacious. One day will come and they will be overwhelmed. I'd teach them about how to make a long list of things they can do. And I'd teach them to start with the smallest task. And then move on to the next.
I'd tell them that climbing out of it starts with baby steps.
If we had the time - if we only had the time. I'd tell them it's okay to be scared. To not know what their next step is. I'd tell them that there is bravery in fear.
Over and over and over, I'd tell them that I'm proud of the people they are becoming.
And I'd tell them that the becoming --
The rising and the opening and the walking out --
I'd tell them that it's all been my joy.
I'd tell them a hundred things. Don't mix cleaning chemicals in a small bathroom. Find a friend in college with a washing machine in their apartment, and never pay for the dorm washers. I'd preach to them to always have a DD. I'd tell them to not wear pajamas to class because it's tacky and lazy. I'd teach them how to set a table, how to greet a potential employer, and I'd teach them how to respond when that potential employer just doesn't hire them.
And I'd tell them over and over again that one small failure isn't their definition.
The rhythm of their life is not defined by someone saying no to them.
The rhythm of their life is defined by the drum they bang.
The song they sing.
The anthem they write.
I'd tell them to make it a good one. To sing it loud. To teach their friends the words. Because sometimes we forget the words ... and when that happens ... their friends can sing them back.
I'd tell them to be still sometimes. To stand in their backyards and listen. To stand in the middle of campus to listen. To take deep breaths. To look at the person that is talking and actually receive the words.
I'd tell them to write the thank you notes. Send the thank you notes. To practice gratitude. Every single day.
I'd tell them to give.
Give their time.
Give and give and give until it helps.
If we just had a little more time. I'd beg them - plead with them - to stop dragging their feet. I'd tell them that the dream they've got in their chests ... the dream that knocks incessantly around in their bellies ... I'd tell them to chase it. To not go with the masses, to not go with their friends, to not go with expectation.
I'd tell them to charge.
Keep going to the dentist. Shut up with the snark. Keep your heads down. Work hard.
Work hard every day.
I'd tell them everything that I've ever learned in the twenty years since high school.
I'd tell them to label their luggage, to not worry so much, and ...
A thousand things, I'd tell them.
Run the show, I'd whisper to them. Run.
I'd tell them to run and to not stop until their lungs are burning, their eyes are clear, and they are proud.
And I'd tell them I've been their biggest cheerleader all along.
If only ... If only there were just a few more seconds of time to tell them all.
Last night, we had a party at my house for The Boyfriend. It was warm outside, and I negotiated with the taco truck around the corner for a stack of too-good tacos and I created some kind of tequila concoction that was awful.
His good friends.
My good friends.
All gathered around in my living room.
I put up a card table, brought in every single chair we could find (even the bag chairs from the garage), and we laughed.
So many times, I buried my face into The Boyfriend's shoulder laughing, wiping my tears away, and holding on to my sore ribs -- gingerly rubbing the place where my errant gallbladder used to reside.
When I was little, we had Sunday dinner around the table. My dad would tell wild stories and we'd heard them all before, but still.
The laughing was constant. His eyes crinkle when he laughs, and his hands gesture wildly. He tells the most amazing stories. And I used to think it was a little slice of heaven, you know? That's what it's all about, I think.
Sitting together with the people that you love most.
Shoulder to shoulder with the people that have watched you change - that have let you change.
Laughing with the people that know about all of your insides.
When I think about memories - when I think about the days that will ultimately stay with me until the end - I sometimes think of them in color.
And last night, when the laughter raised up from the too small table and poured out through the open windows ...
It was golden. A soft yellow.
Kind of like the color of the lamp light on the white walls at 11:30 p.m. on a February Saturday night.
Here's to the golden memories. All of them.
Last week, I was sidelined with a rogue gallbladder. Laaaawdy. You do not want a rogue gallbladder. Ever.
Last Sunday, I was so sick with rib pain and back pain that I couldn't even stand up straight. I told The Boyfriend we were going to Omaha to Urgent Care. I put my shoes on and literally melted back into the wood floor - curled up in some sort of fetal position that felt better than literally anything else. He found me there after he started the car. Maybe that's the moment I realized it was a little more serious than the flu.
I could talk to you about the Urgent Care doctor that refunded my copay, and helped me put my coat back on when he sent me to the ER.
I could talk to you about Alison, Ashley, Maddy and Beth - my nurses on the fourth floor throughout the three days that I stayed in the hospital. The ones that patted my forehead with a wet, cool cloth, who held my hand, the ones that sat with me at two in the morning, in the dark, when my mom was asleep on the plastic couch. They sat there. Quietly, Holding my hand. Whispering to breathe when I would forget. Because that's what happens to me when I'm so hopped up on pain meds and anti-nausea meds that when I fell asleep, I just didn't.
I just didn't breathe.
I could talk to you about my ferocious, tenacious, unafraid-to-take-up-her-own-space doctor that had super cute glasses. The doctor that was at a conference this weekend pioneering mastectomy surgery. The doctor that told me that my gallbladder sand was the most beautiful she's ever seen (anything worth doing is worth doing well, you guys, including gallbladder sand).
I could talk to you about my anesthesiologist and his kind eyes. The way he listened and patted my anxious, sweating hands, and smiled at me.
But not today.
Instead, I want to talk to you about my tribe. My close you in their arms kinda tribe.
My brother and his funny jokes that masked his concern.
My daddy's worry that was felt over three states. The kind that will wash over a girl and sink into her bones, and his restorative faith.
My step-mom's intelligent, thoughtful questions.
My sister-in-law's sweet, comforting love.
My mom's get on the first available flight and stay for a week no questions asked kind of attitude. Her sit next to me on the sort of uncomfortable side chair in my living room for six days and watch an entire season of a show with me kind of love. Her drive you back to the ER a week later with steady hands kind of power.
The Boyfriend's lay your whole arm over the side of the bed so that I could cuddle with something warmer than my pillow kind of sweet devotion. His soft words in my ear. His worried eyes. His hands through my sweaty, matted hair. His climb into the hospital bed with me, his confident walk next to my bed through the operating doors. His perfect constance.
Bestie Betsy's iron-willed, incessant communication.
Friends on the other side of the state checking in. Her doctor husband sending snippets of advice. Try this. Do this. Don't forget about this. Covering both of us in their care.
BFF Suzy's frosty and peanut M&Ms and easy laughter. Distraction. BFF Amber's classroom copying, sub plan making, and group text level headedness.
What a rough week it's been. A wild, vortex of a week where I've lost moments, hours to dazes, seconds with The General. I'm going to go back to work tomorrow and I'm not even sure what my desk looks like. My surgeon cleared me today with a pat on the shoulder just like nothing really even happened. I wore actual pants for the first time in 9 days. I'm 16 pounds lighter. Strangely though, I'm not quite sure I'm back to my normal self. Maybe it's my normal self with four new scars. Er. Something.
I think I've learned a thing or two about tribes. About the ones that pull you in closer. The ones that wrap you with their words, their fervent prayers, their wild worry. The kind of tribe that you can feel reach through and put their hands on your shoulders. The kind of tribe that are still checking in. Nine days later.
Giving thanks that it was just a rogue gallbladder.
And not something even more serious.
That's where I am today. Happy February.
He was raised by a lioness of a woman, who, even now, doesn’t realize her own brutal, regal strength. He didn’t care much about school, but he did well learning people. His skinny, skinned knees forged paths down by a family creek in the summers and his chest carried the heavy weight of a dad that just never showed up for him.
That’s when he started picking up the sharp bricks - even though he didn’t even realize he was doing it. Cutting his small hands, he carefully began constructing a fortress. Sand taken from the playground filled in the cracks and slowly, light started dimming.
His mother divorced.
Had another baby.
And the little boy grew up.
So many of his days ended up pear-shaped. So many of his words swallowed back down, clunking down his throat. Tumbling through his lungs, sloshing around his belly. Churning. Heated.
His load was heavy. Angry. And he was barely even fifteen.
He dated a girl in high school and whispered all the things that high schoolers always whisper. Gaping words like forever and full words like always. I suppose they laughed together and I’m sure he loved her.
It was that first kind of love that epically moves and rearranges priorities and heartbeats. It was a love full of promising maybes and one days.
He went to college with her in the back of his head and his hands were only reserved for hers.
As things sometimes go, her hands were not quite as clean.
She shattered his precious, naive heart into a million pieces. On a hot summer day, he spat words at her - praying he’d never have to see her again … begging to whatever power he believed in.
A dad that wasn’t ever there taught him even in his absence.
Taught him a thing or two about promises.
How to mean what you say.
So he never saw the girl again. And he pieced together that brave heart of his. Glued it back together with a tribe of friends full of the same weary smiles and bad taste in music. Strengthened the fortress around him with dirt from the creek bed, cheap beer, and the angry heat of summers passing swiftly by.
There were other girls here and there, I should think. Others with pretty smiles, others that just filled spaces in time that he can’t even remember now.
He married a girl. Trapped in a relationship with a house and debt and other friends marrying and a formula that says, “This is just what you do,” he relented. And I think he may have even been happy.
But the boy is passionate.
Discontent with monotony.
And in the passing days of the same sun rising and the same sun setting, the boy became restless. Fraught. It all felt empty and used up. And maybe he was a little sore at himself for making the wrong decision in the first place. He suddenly seemed to live in a world that was rubbing him raw and the only way to make it all stop,
was to leave.
So he did.
He took his bag of named bricks with him, carefully thrown over his broad shoulders. The sack dirtied with time and use. The load still heavy and exhausting.
He moved away.
But he forgot that wherever you go, you’re still you.
And ... just like it happens in the movies,
he met a girl.
She was pretty. And smart. And funny, I think.
And the boy kinda cocked his head to the side and thought maybe he could love her for the rest of ever. Words that he thought had been forever lost in the storm came washing up to shore.
He did lots of pretty, shiny things for the girl. Things that boys ought to do. Tried to fit into her world. Tried. But the girl. She was sorta lost.
In a different kind of place than the boy.
Trying to forge two different ways, two different lives. She couldn’t pick. She’d walk down a road for a little while, and then switch back to the other path. And it was brutal. He held his breath so often, nearly losing who he was at the core in the process.
But he was willing, so caught up was he.
And then, just like it happens in some of the movies …
In the quiet of night, covered in darkness, she told him she was done with him.
And his perfectly glued back together heart from before shattered.
And his crooked smile faded a little more.
And, in earnest, he built with his bricks.
These were some of his darkest days.
His puzzle pieces were all askew. Like maybe he was missing the edges, or the middle, or no one showed him what it was even supposed to look like before they dumped the whole box out. He fumbled in the dark, dazed by a lack of sleep and a lack of peace and a lack of direction.
He sat on his lioness momma’s porch at night and his tongue stumbled over hard words and broken, jagged dreams and she listened. Her warm palm rested on his back as if she could help mop up some of his pain.
He meandered through his days. His hands bandaged from the sharp edges of before, and his heart buried so deep and sheltered so hard in his chest. He laughed a little too loudly, played a little too hard, hung out with people that were not like him at all.
like it happens in zero movies,
he met another and her mouth hung open when she saw him.
But the boy had learned a thing or two.
From his lioness momma.
From his absent dad.
From the first girl that crossed him.
From the girl that he wasted days with.
From the girl that nearly broke him.
The boy had learned a thing or two about jumping in head first. About plunging in too quickly. About rash decisions. And his maybe, and his always, and his forever bricks were tucked far, far away.
The new girl had her own lessons organized and tucked neatly into her back pocket. She had her own holy set of issues.
They began some sort of walk together. A hopscotch kind of devotion. Two steps forward, a step apart, a step by one, catch up by another.
She cut her fingers on his bricks and he cut his on her barbed wire.
A year after they met, laying in the dark, he told her he finally felt free from The One That Came Before Her.
And another layer crumbled. A little more light. A little more warmth broke through. And it was warm on their faces.
It’s dirty work, removing bricks. Sweaty, dusty, and tiring.
And the girl?
She learned so very quickly that the only person strong enough to move them was the boy.
And I heard that she wasn’t the climbing kind.
And she wasn’t a mason.
And she never really was very patient.
The girl is passionate.
Discontent with monotony.
And she adored him.
I suppose a person is never finished. Not until the very bitter end. Never finished growing. Never finished learning.
Never finished building, or tearing down.
I suppose that’s what makes all of our stories so good.
Sometimes I feel you clawing at the inside of my chest, trying desperately - wildly - to get out. Through my throat, perhaps. Across my tongue in a world of words that I’ve always never spoken, and through a song that was never meant to be sung. It feels good. It reminds me that I’m alive.
Lately though. Lately.
I feel you pound. I feel you rage inside a cage of marrow and splintered bone. Your drumbeat reaches all the way inside my ears - a pulsing go, go, go.
You ache a lot, you know? You’re some kind of twisted reminder that there are crevices and cracks and bruises and jagged edges and you will just not let me forget …
That you are there.
Sometimes I tear at my shirt, the feeling of claustrophobia so intense that I think it’s the material covering my chest that is holding me … trapping me … refusing to relent a grasp on me. But it’s you, isn’t it? It’s the feeling of you slamming into my ribs.
You stop sometimes, too. My palms sweat and a tingle runs down the length of my too straight spine, and I feel your pause. In every atom, every sinewy fiber, and every inch of my lungs that are holding in heated air.
I feel your pause.
I feel your reminder on some kind of spiritual level. I feel you telling me to take a deeper damn breath. To just take a second.
Before another blow comes.
Before another break happens.
Before another bullet barrels through.
But the very worst.
The almost unbearable.
Is the desperate break I feel. When I can physically feel you tear apart right down the middle. When my brain screams down at you to toughen up, to tighten your laces, to hold yourself together. When you don’t even listen. When a shining piece of you - one that has never been marred - rips.
That’s the very worst.
And I seem to be missing pieces of you, too. You know? I’ve given so much of you away to others. The scars that show I’ve cut away pieces with some kind of kitchen butter knife still remain. They’re labeled with names like The Fairytale and The One That Got Away and The Liar and The One That Made Me Feel Like I Wasn’t Enough. And now, another. The stitches are still too raw for me to name, but I’m thinking I’ll call this one The One That Was Too Dark.
You still keep beating.
Which, to me, has always been the most remarkably beautiful part of it all.
A steady rhythm.
Even in the darkest moments.
You’ve given me a count. Something to concentrate on.
I take a deep breath.
I take a step forward.
And I try again.
Disclaimer: This piece was inspired by something I witnessed from afar this week. And for The Moms and The Boyfriend (who is probably wtf'ing right now) -- this isn't about me.
BFF Suzy is cold reading a book that one of our mutual friends is writing. She speaks about lines from the book often, reflecting on the power of words. Just the other day, she said that our friend - who is living a big, wide open dream of her own - wrote about honesty.
Not just honesty with her husband, but honesty with herself.
And I kinda thought that was something.
When I was married, I was often busy with my hands. “Look over here,” I’d smile and shout. “Look at what I’m doing over here,” I’d tell people. And inside, I’d think, And whatever you do, do not look at what’s going on behind me.
Because behind me was a hidden hot mess of a broken, busted machine that was missing all kinds of important parts.
And then, when it was all burned to the ground, I took on the hard mantra of no more yielding. It’s a line I sort of jacked from Shakespeare, but it’s served me well for two years.
You do the hard (and right) things.
You say the hard (and right) things.
You value your own thoughts.
You listen to your whispers.
Just the other night, Craig and I had an important conversation about “the future”. And I realized (again) that we’re each still carrying a bag of surprises with us. Neither of us know what is in our bags until one of us rubs up against a raw spot - something still hurting from the last failed attempted at Something Serious or Something Special.
I stayed awake for a long time that night, thinking about how you begin again after living through something that was so sideways and so far from whatever you thought it would ever be. And I couldn’t help but wonder how you stop the same things from happening again. It feels like stopping a freight train … a train that you don’t see coming, and a train that has no clear destination.
Craig has old hurts that are obviously not mine to discuss, and so clearly inappropriate to publicize here, but it left me bewildered. So often he doesn’t speak about them (like all of us). Buried deep in his chest is a check list of wrongs - things that are cut so deeply into him. Engrained in the fibers of who he is and … don’t we all?
Don’t we all have frayed edges of dreams we lost? Fragmented moments that we hold so close to our bodies, and scars that we cling to for their memories and the knowledge that we survived. As he slept next to me - his deep breaths even and long, I wondered not just about him, but about people in general. I wondered how people still live their days freely, with faith wide and true … even through the fear.
The fear that it could all go sideways again.
The fear that you might be in ten times deeper than they are.
The fear that you might be left standing there.
In the rain on a Thursday afternoon.
Feeling through the wake of a hurt you’ve somehow already felt.
And oh my stars, I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m no longer cut out to be a magician. I can’t be the girl anymore that turns tricks with her hands to hide the charred bits of a lesson learned behind her.
If anything is real and true and certain, the thing I know for sure --
The thing I know for sure the most —
Is the glaringly obvious.
Life is nestled in honesty.
A quiet pause to remember where he’s come from.
A gentle reminder on a Saturday night to him that I have old hurts, too. And the steel - the hard, hot, searing truth - found in the girl that will not live that lesson again.
Yes. Yes, it’s true.
The only way from point A to point B is honesty.
I think that must be how you do it.
Small steps towards some kind of finish line that's out there.
Ahead of you and me and us and we -
Out there somewhere.
So, take the small steps heavily coated in realness. Listen to those whispers that reach up through your soul - small mercies that remind you that faith even though you're scared is brave.
Honesty is brave, brave, brave.
And so are you.
I read about a woman who got together with her girlfriends to celebrate the end of the year, and she made each of them come up with a high and a low. Kinda like Thanksgiving, when you talk about what you're thankful for, only not.
I've been thinking about it for a couple of days now, and I've come to kind of a startling conclusion -
The low point of my year was exceptionally easy to pinpoint. I can remember the days clearly, how the hours weighed on me as they dragged by, and the washing relief when it was all over. It's vivid. Those feelings are still jagged edges - not yet dulled by the passing of time.
I'm still trying to target a high point. As the days float by, each one looking a lot like the day previous, it's easy to succumb to the monotony. There were certainly sparkling days this year - a merry-go-round in California with The General, an afternoon on a creek bed with The Boyfriend, days with family, nights with friends ... all of them good. All of them food for a weary soul. What was surprising to me, as I looked back, was how many there were - how many joyous, good days.
"Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys." - Rita Schiano
This 2017 - the one that is barreling down on so many of us ... the year that is a giant exhale to so many that are crawling to the 2016 finish line ... This year, my goal is to talk more about my joys.
When every one else is busy picking a word for the year, or marking their, "I will go to the gym" resolutions on a piece of cute paper to tack to the refrigerator - I'll be over here keeping a list of the good things.
When I think about it - The Best Day memories of 2016 to me are fuzzy around the edges, and golden in color. They are days maked by The General's little hands, my mom's laughter, and my dad's funny stories. They are colored by The Boyfriend's bearded grin, and the sunshine - warm on my face in the summer.
What were some of your best days like?
I know a girl. She's got babies and a husband and a full time job. She's got a house decorated for Christmas, clean bathrooms, and a dinner schedule. She checks homework, wipes baseboards, and makes grocery lists in her head. She juggles doctor appointments, farming seasons, and sports season calendars. Her showers are interrupted by a five-year-old, her heart was splintered when her husband told her she was left wanting, and sometimes, there's a snot smear on her blouse at work. And at any given moment, hiding behind her picturesque, practiced, forced, fake smile, is a narrative that runs through her head:
I can't do this anymore.
This isn't love.
I want out.
So far out.
Out of the corner.
And she's not the only one. I look out across the ocean of faces every day and I see them - women are barely holding on. Beams of light diminishing in the face of spouses that half love, half care, and half try. Diminishing under the weight of volunteering for clubs and leagues and groups and committes. Diminishing in the onslaught of a society that pits a woman against herself with photoshop, social media, and apps on phones that are quiet, secretive, ticking timebombs for marriages.
She's tired, this girl I know.
In her bones.
She's exhausted. You can only really tell by the puffiness that surrounds her eyes from the lack of sleep and the lack of anyone around her to fill her bucket back up ... Her spouse simply chooses not to notice. It's easier that way, I suppose. Takes less work - especially if her spouse is as busy as she is.
It wasn't very long ago that I said I wouldn't get married again until I had it figured out - until I had it nailed down. Until I could point to a place in my own failed relationship and say, "Yes. This. Right here. This is where it all went pear-shaped."
Turns out - the answer was right in front of me the whole time.
It's paying attention.
Just three words (four if you count the contraction).
It's the noticing of the puffy eyes, or the lack of sleep, or the dinner being pushed around on a plate.
It's the noticing of sentences being cut short by laundry or the oven timer or a text message.
It's the noticing of how her boss treats her at the company Christmas party.
It's the noticing of how she rubs her neck as she walks up the stairs.
My goodness, we're busy, aren't we? All of us. Calendars bursting and Christmas is coming and also? We are not perfect people. We are not meant to plow through life. We are not built for break-neck speed.
We are meant for deep breaths and hand holding. And we are meant to live this life as witnesses to one another.
I'm probably not the person to hand out marital advice. In fact, on every single cute-wedding-advice-thing I come across, I write, "Keep separate checking accounts!" because #mytruth. But I've been observing the married couples in my own life for two years now - wondering, questioning ... how it all went totally wrong.
The wives I know that complain about their marriages are not complaining about things that are wild and out of control. I have no friends that are living in immediate danger.
I do have friends that are raising babies, raising money for classrooms, cooking dinner at night, folding and putting away all. the. laundry, and then going to work the next day with ironed pants and big, shiny, fake smiles and eyes that just want to shut for just ... one ... more ... second.
And the friends that I know? The ones that are like kids in Wal-Mart jumping up and down in front of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (day in the life of my kid) just begging for some kinda something from their spouse? An eyebrow raise. An interest. A head nod. A, "I sincerely want to know how your day went," kinda question?
Somewhere along the way, that sort of begging has been labeled "needy". And damn if that doesn't just suck a little. Needing acknowledgement isn't base. It's not annoying.
It's the difference between The Girl I Know staying.
One piece of acknowledgement from The Girl I Know's husband - one simple, "I see you. Tell me about your hard day and I'll listen - not to respond, but to just listen," would leave her stunned. But it would rekindle some of that faith she's lost in him.
I'm not saying I got all the answers, guys.
All I can really offer is what I've lived and what I see every day -
I see women working their asses off. On all fronts. They're like traffic cops - arms spread, whistles in their mouths, quickly shuffling everyone everywhere.
I see women that are doing the hard work - the good work. Every single day. And they're good at it. They're built to be good at it.
I have a friend that stopped by tonight and she sighed a heavy, deep, burdened sigh and said, "I just want to feel like I have a partner. Someone that makes me feel safe."
And I thought -
That's the secret.
Let's do more of that.
I watched a movie tonight called The Song, which is based on the Song of Solomon. I watched with one eye open, sorta hidden behind a blanket. Here's the gist:
Girl and boy meet.
Girl falls desperately in love.
Boy falls in love, too, but dang. Love is hard for him.
Boy has some daddy issues, but hey! Maybe she can fix them?
Boy becomes a famous singer.
Boy cheats on girl with a cute violinist.
Girl is at home watching over their son.
There's an argument (as you can probably imagine).
Girl kicks him out.
Boy comes back.
Boy sings her a song.
Girl forgives him.
Boy and girl live happily ever after.
And color me surprised.
Obvi I have strong personal opinions over here, but can we just --
Can we just talk for a second in generalized terms?
Because after I watched the movie, I was kinda like, really? That's the story from the Bible? Cause let me just SparkNotes that real quick. And it's not really, but I got a pretty good Sunday night bible study in and I ate like a half a pan of brownies. #jesuslovesbrownies
Love is hard. Right? Being in love with someone is daunting and sometimes, I kinda think what fresh hell have I even stepped in because hard. Opening your heart wide and holding your hands out wide and showing your cards - your Queen of Vulnerability and your Ace of Insecurity - is just tough.
And I'm not just over here spouting about dating life. No.
I was married for ten years and it was hard even then.
When you decide to do life with someone else and you walk next to them, and your steps match and your hands clasp together - you are taking a big chance.
You are stepping out on a ledge and just praying - hoping - that the other person will hold your heart in their hands, and guard it. You hope and you pray and you beg whomever you pray to that Your Person will live the verses of Solomon and Ruth and the other heart filled whispers of God. You hope and you pray that you will not crash and burn.
Because behind you lay a trail of rubble and still smoldering fires.
Because behind you is a long list of broken promises, almost-made-its, and dreams that were left half spoken.
Because behind you is a host of people that didn't love you enough, or in the right way, or when it really mattered.
And when you're walking step for step with Your Person, forging a path, you step kinda lightly. Right?
Because ahead of you is even more dangerous that what you're leaving behind.
Ahead of you is a minefield of terrifying maybes.
Ahead of you is a possible this-isn't-working-for-me conversation.
Ahead of you is maybe a pretty violinist dressed up like temptation.
Ahead of you? Might just be the fairytale.
You take a deep breath and you try to be brave, and you can't help but look out of the corner of your eye at The One Holding Your Heart. Distractions and every day life sometimes chip away at what you have, sometimes chip away at the armor The One Holding Your Heart is guarding with.
The hardest thing to remember sometimes is that the person you are choosing to do life with is coming from some place, too. The way they act is in direct relation to what they've endured.
And we've endured some things, you and me. Some hard things.
Those hard things shape us, grace us with rough edges.
Push us into shouting matches. Press us into corners. Beg us to cover the gaping holes before anyone else can see them.
Insecurities are ugly and vulnerability is exhausting. Trust me.
The Boyfriend and I are walking lightly, clinging to what we've figured out together and we're still learning the other's curves, edges, old hurts.
A week ago, we were sitting at a bar, and I was sandwiched between his sister and his brother-in-law. The Boy was sitting at the end, next to three girls waiting on drinks. I nodded at something his sister said and turned to look over at him. He wasn't looking back at me - but instead, laughing and talking with the girls at the end of the bar.
I think my mouth actually dropped open.
And easily, so easily, I slipped right back into that girl that I used to be. The one that smiled too brightly, laughed a touch too loudly. Inside, insecurity waged a war with vulnerability, and my hands clenched my coat on my lap.
We left the bar and I told him I didn't like it. Not one single bit. Didn't like how it felt, didn't like any of it. And there, in some kind of dark parking lot with a street lamp, he stopped and looked at me, and he spoke the words that I needed to hear.
If there is anything that I learned from one failed marriage, it's how to speak up - how much it matters to speak the hard words. I'm fairly certain that I will always be the girl that worries about the cute violinist dressed up like temptation. That's just who I am, I suppose.
That's where I've come from.
Showing that card and giving it over to someone else for safe keeping is, well, difficult.
What I guess I'm really trying to say here is that we are a broken set of people. We all have Things. We all have sweeping, gaping holes that render us incapable sometimes. And whether or not you've found Your Person, you still only want one thing -
and those are the sweet lines from Solomon --
I belong to my lover, and he belongs to me.
He calls me beautiful, and I am his.
Winter has past.
The rain is over.
I have found the one whom my soul loves.
Come with me.
You know what those lines sound like to me?
They sound like rest. They sound like the clanging of armor and old hurts hitting the ground. They sound like the heavy weight of the past falling to the floor.
Here's to resting with the one you've found that calls you beautiful.
Here's to that.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences.