27 December 2014

Of Marriage

Marriage is so weird.

It's pretty much the only time in one's life (barring unforeseen circumstances) that you look at another person and say,

"You know what? I like you. And even though I haven't known you for an extremely long time, I know I like you so much that I want to see your face pretty much every. single. day. for the rest of my life. I want to hear your voice every morning and every night - I don't think it will ever annoy me.

"I want us to make tiny people that look just like us and will drive us insane - I mean, literally, we'll question our sanity - but, for the most part, should be fun. And then we'll somehow raise these little people to be responsible adults. You and me. Who are barely responsible adults ourselves. Yeah, we're gonna do that.

"And because you'll be breathing the same air as me every day, you're going to see me be pretty ugly. It's okay, though. I mean, I like you. And I trust you. And I trust that you'll see that ugly and still somehow like me. Most days. And you'll see me go through some really hard things - because life, itself, is awfully ugly at times - and I trust that you'll hold my hand when I cry and somehow still see beauty on that scrunched-up, red, blotchy, tear-stained face. And more than that, you'll somehow help me to survive those days. And I think I can do the same for you.

"Don't get me wrong. There will be days we'll get pretty angry with one another. We're not going to agree. And we might get to the same page, or we might have to agree to disagree. We'll get so bitterly angry on some days that if you were anyone else, I'd probably stop responding to your facebook messages or I'd just decide we're better as arm's-length friends. But since it'll be you, I'll have to remind myself that I really do like you and that we're stuck with each other, so I'll try my best to see things from your point of view or at least to admit that, while you may not be right, you're not necessarily wrong, either. And that will have to be okay.

And then we'll do this. Every. Single. Day. Until we die.

I mean, really, how does that sound? Sound good? Want to do that?"

"I do."

Really. It's crazy.

If anyone else said that to us, we'd run away and maybe file a restraining order. But when we wrap it all up in a pretty white package tied to a shiny ring, we're okay with it.

It's clear to me this is a God-created institution. Because only a man in a different kind of institution would have decided we were capable of such a commitment. Yet our Creator created us to love - in the same crazy, unconditional way He loves us. And He welcomes us into this kind of relationship with one another to show us just how crazy and unconditional that kind of love is. How hard and, yet, how unbelievably worth it it is, too.

Which is why the only reason this insane institution works is when we choose to let Him show us how it's done.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

15 December 2014

Of Fading Beauty

I saw a portion of a fashion show on-line this morning - just a snippet, really. I was drawn in because something about the fashion/modeling world has always intrigued me, so I didn't necessarily go in with a critical eye, but with one that appreciates a certain artform, really, to the whole production of it all.

And in that clip of the final moment, all these beautiful young women, standing on the end of the catwalk, laughing, holding hands, smiling - as if this were the culmination of the best time of their lives - I was struck by the reality of it. Rather than envying their solid thighs and flat stomachs, I saw their future laid out before me.

They will spend the rest of their lives trying to hold on to this moment.

This moment where beauty equals flawless make-up and zero percent body fat. The world, too, will do nothing to make them believe they should not do all in their power to cling to their youth. Aside even from the barrage of "beauty" messages flung at all women daily, it's just the fact they have now displayed themselves for all to see - as icons of beauty and perfection. And when the worldly definition begins to fade in their own bodies, outsiders will hold up their photos - the fallen angels who maybe have bags under their eyes, imperfect skin or (gasp!) cellulite - and do all in their insecure power to be sure we all see how they have faltered. They've "let themselves go" - as if it's the personal responsibility of the individual to stop time or the aging process altogether.

And I pitied them. Because they most likely have little reason to believe this endless pursuit of youth and beauty which has been their livlihood, their world, is nothing but a passing shadow. That maybe there is a beauty in aging naturally. That maybe they have more to offer the world than a perfect body. And that, maybe, there are things in this world (and most certainly above this world) that are worthy of so much more attention, of grasping, than what they have been told.

And I pity us - and every girl at home - who sees this culminating moment and feels maybe they lack something and maybe they, too, given the right make-up or clothes, can achieve this form of perfection and this defining moment of joy that comes from reaching the summit (a peak which comes far too early in life, if youth is truly the goal).

There is just so much more to this life than the world will allow others to believe. Who will tell them?

05 December 2014

Of My First Daughter

Dear Micaiah,

I loved watching you dance in the leaves last weekend. Or, rather, twirl while waiting. Waiting for them to fall so you could dash to catch them. Jumping through your imaginary hopscotch board on the driveway. Waiting. Just so you could catch a bit of autumn in your hands. I delighted in watching you, my beautiful daughter - way bigger than I ever gave you permission to be.

It occurred to me - you are the first little girl with whom I've stood in the front yard, watching for leaves to tumble through the air.

Being the oldest, you have had to struggle with Mommy and Daddy as we bumble through this parenting thing. As we determine how we're going to discipline and when. We've expected so much (at times too much) from you because we still don't know what we can expect from a little girl your age. As the big sister, we expect you to set a good example and, let's be honest, at 6, you still need a good example. And we fail so often at that. And let's not even talk about the ways we've failed you at potty training.

But despite all the difficulties and weighty expectations, I want you to know, I treasure you. I fill with joy at all the moments we've shared, because being the oldest doesn't just mean you the first child in my womb or the first baby of my own flesh held in my arms.

Yours were the first tiny hands I held as those precious legs learned to stumble their way over this earth. Yours were the first bedtime stories I read (I was so eager, I started on your very first night at home - with, appropriately, "In a People House"). Your feet were the first I tried to squish into tiny shoes. You were the first strapped to my grocery cart - the first little hand waving, "Hi!" to every stranger I passed, melting them with your endless smile - you are still melting hearts at the grocery store.

You were the first I buckled into a stroller and the first for whom I stirred together baby cereal. Your head was the first little bald baby head I washed. You were my first pint-sized cookie-baking partner and the first arms I wrapped around a squirming baby brother. Your toes are the first little nails I painted and the first to dance on top of Daddy's.

Yours were the first little hands I taught to roll dice on a game board or how to hold a hand of Skip-bo cards (your great-grandma would be so proud). You were the first little dancer I've driven to class. You're the first one I ever packed up for a sleepover at Aunt Dayla's or whose hair I pulled up into a princess bun for the local parade (in fact, your hair is the first little girl hair I have ever successfully pulled into any hairstyle that was passable).

You are my first daughter and I have learned so much from you. Thank you for your patience, your smile and your sweet innocence. I love you so much.

Love always, Mommy