This is a page of my journal from twenty years ago. A glimpse into who we were then and a revelation of who we have become. Us:
A husband and a wife.
Four children, including two teenagers, one pre-adolescent, and one toddler.
Two cats. One totally disobedient dog. And two horses.
This is the make-up of our family.
Needless to say, with all our comings and goings, individual personalities, and distinct wills, ours is not always a peaceful place. There is plenty of teasing and laughter…and fun. And if I'm honest, quite a few thunderclaps of conflict as well.
And I love it.
Oh, I don’t always like it. I am, after all, a woman who thrives on solitude, order, calm, quiet, and peace (rare qualities in this busy household). Yet I love the richness, the ever-changing variety, the heart-stopping intimacy of shared thoughts. I find such safety in the “kindred spirits” I have found in each of my family members.
I know what they like…
They know what I like…
We know what we like together.
There is something soul-satisfying about a shared beauty; a favorite song on the radio, a breath-taking sunset, or better yet, the groggy-eyed wonder of an early morning sunrise. When I see a brilliant rainbow with my family, it takes on a deeper beauty because we gasp in wonder together.
This family of mine is nothing like the still-life portrait I once imagined it would be. For goodness sake, we can’t even get a quick snapshot of all six of us smiling with all 12 eyes open at once!
I am learning, ever so slowly, that if I let go and stop trying to get everybody to be quiet and still and orderly, I enjoy this crazy crowd a whole lot more.
Though I treasure order, they do not.
Though I love quiet, I have never known one of them to leave our noisy family circle to seek solitude for the sake of silence. They prefer noise, and lots of it.
And while neatness seems essential to my peace of mind, not a one of the rest of them care a whit if the house is in perfect order before they go to bed, or when they get up, or anytime in between!
I’m finally getting it.
That family peace consists more in letting go and accepting each other than in trying frantically to keep everybody calm, quiet, and tidy. I am learning that conflict is sometimes okay (will I ever really believe that?) and that closeness comes not by obliterating conflict, but by living with it comfortably.
We do not always agree. In fact, we rarely all agree. And that’s okay. It is when we graciously respect each other’s differing opinions and ways of doing things that friendship sprouts like well-watered weeds all over the relationships in this family.
So I am learning painstakingly slowly to let go and enjoy this crew of six. I am daily resisting the hundreds of urges to control and corral them into my version of the Happy Family.
They are they…
and I am me…
and together we are us.
Then there were six of us. Now there are fifteen.
In the midst of living real life we have grown and changed, wept and danced, learned, grieved, become real friends.
We are still Us, still in love with Jesus, still learning how to follow in His footsteps. And, perhaps most real of all, still in awe of the incomprehensible truth that He loves us just as we are.
May you delight in the truth of His love this week.
From my heart,
P.S. I am away this week, road tripping and camping high in the Sierra mountains I love, with the man I have loved for well over 37 years. I'll keep checking in so we can pray, together, for those whose hearts need a touch from God. Leave your name- or not. As we hike and explore the beauty of the Creator, we would love to bring your hopes to Him who hears our cries.