I am a hoarder.
Seriously, I have more people in my life who love me and whom I love than any one person should be allowed to have.
Just for example, my thank-you list for baby gifts is 74 people long. I don’t know the average, (I could make something up) but that seems really high to me!
These are people who when I asked if someone knew a teenager I could hire to weed my yard, snuck over to do it before I even woke up (a colonel's wife, no less!). Who show up at church with a Starbucks frappuccino for me, just because they were thinking I might need one. (I did!) Who hear that my baby is sick and offer to make me some chicken soup. Who beg to watch Ayla for me so I can go run errands or go out with other people.
(sounds like someone's primary love language has become acts of service)
The people who are related to me, either by genetics, marriage or choice (you know, the fremily type, not to be confused with frenemy) are the dream team of a family. They believe in me, encourage me and forgive far more than you can imagine. (well, several of you reading this are in this category, so I guess you actually can imagine)
This people-hoarder phenomenon became apparent to me in John’s absence. When he was here, after we'd spend time with friends, we used to look at each other and say, “We know the best people in the world!” I had no idea how true that was until this year.
I don't think you really know how good your friends are until you need them.
I think his absence also paints a sort-of target on me that makes me more visible to others, more a subject needing friendship and support. I haven't always been super comfortable being on the receiving end of that, but I am learning the joy of being receptive to such things.
Because he’s gone, I’ve been able to travel across town and across country with Ayla to visit lots of these people. I've stayed in your homes, eaten your food, thrown poopy diapers away in your trashcans. I marvel at the friendships that have seemingly bloomed from nowhere (like a Craigslist ad) and others that flourish under newly-available intentionality.
Every night when I put Ayla to bed, I start our prayer by thanking God for the people we've been able to see or talk to that day. And almost every day since John's been gone, one of your names have come across my lips.
“Wait a minute!” you’re thinking. “Why is she talking about people when she’s supposed to be talking about the other side of the coin today?”
This IS the other side of the coin. On this side there is an image of me (still holding the drooling baby girl) surrounded by this great cloud of iron witnesses/supporters/cheerleaders.
I am not alone.
Oh, and I have an amazing daughter.
This may have been selfish of us, but we prayed for an easy baby. God went over and above that with her. I know He gave us the daughter we needed and threw in a bunch of features to bless others as well. She is healthy, sweet, funny, outgoing and pretty stinking cute.
I write about her more than anything else, so I won’t belabor it here, but my gratitude that I get to spend all day most days with this precious gift pulses through me as steadfastly as my own blood.
(Ok, maybe I will write just a little bit more about her)
I do dread the day in the future when she doesn’t think I’m the greatest thing in the world. When she’s too cool for me, when I embarrass her, when she knows more than I do, when I disappoint or fail her, you know, when she’s a teenager. I don’t think anything I do this year or ever will guarantee we will always have a perfect relationship. What I do know is that this is a special time. These days, even without John, are gifts. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.
And of course, there’s God.
(my atheist readers will just have to skip ahead)
At the end of John’s gospel he wrote that if each thing that Jesus had done on the earth were to be written about, the world could not contain all the books. I know he’s using hyperbole to make a point, but I can relate terms of recording what God is doing in me during this separated year. I don’t know how much of it I will be able to or want to write about.
What I can tell you now is that He is here.
He is loving. He is active. He is in control. He is generous and comforting. What I know most of all, though, right now, is that He is here.
So on one side of the coin there is Absence and on the other there is all this
I can’t be thankful for just one side and hate the other. It is all the same thing.
Of course, what I have in Presence with me will remain when John is home. But my sense of these Presences is heightened because of his absence.
Joy and pain, gratitude and sorrow. These are not opposites. They are notes in a chord. Threads of a cord. They are inseparable and necessary for me this year.
This is how I am doing.
I am okay. I miss John. I am blessed.
(Join me tomorrow for My Digital Marriage.)