This weekend our families are gathered. It’s a bit like a patchwork quilt. Feller’s mom and her husband are visiting from Oklahoma, our oldest daughter is visiting from another space in Oklahoma and the children’s father is visiting my oldest son’s home in our other home.
Blended we are.
Marriage in my childhood home meant forever. My Geddie Grandparents were married well over 60 years, my father’s parents as long as my Grandmother Nunnally lived. My siblings have been married to one spouse their whole lives.
My life didn’t work out that way.
I am ever thankful for families I have. I have been accepted by Feller’s family and my children’s father and his parents have accepted and welcomed Les into their lives. Our marriage came long after we were both single, and from day one, I knew that we would figure it out for the children. Marriages sometimes don’t last whether or not you want them to, but parenting can work even when the marriage doesn’t.
We lived the fruit of that this week when birthdays came and both families gathered. There is peace among us.
It wasn’t always that way. I failed, my marriage failed….not once but twice.
Relationships take work and forgiveness and putting the past where it belongs and choosing the present. Feller and I have been married for sixteen years now, when I speak in small spaces, every now and then I am asked to share what its like to be a Christian who is twice divorced, (yes, so good at marriage I failed twice before I succeeded…and that success is a daily effort in reducing me and enlarging God).
Feller speaks, and it’s as though God opens his mouth and takes over. I often sit in awe at just how willing Les is to not “be in charge” for he’s a “be in charge ” kind of man. He speaks of hardship, of mistakes, of God’s gifts in his life. The listeners are still, they see this man who is so anointed to teach and they learn…we all learn…from how God uses him…I’m different, messier, and now, for the first time, willing to share more openly, for it just isn’t about shame anymore…
My story is much more humbling, it’s about an immature bride, one who believed life would always be fair, romantic and easy. A high energy girl who didn’t seem to pick up on important parts of marriage relationships or relationships period. A doer, one who sees the world as a happy place, who has boundless natural energy… Who always was a whirl of energy and needed to do, to engage, to be…. but wears people out…literally, if I don’t contain or work diligently to let that energy be used in appropriate ways. It’s an unfolding story, of obedience, of mess-ups of grace beyond effort given…it’s me and it’s you…it’s learning as I go…
Despite being in strong homes growing up, I didn’t seem to catch the many many lessons of how to make a marriage work that were laid out before me. Not many men are ready to deal with the high energy and creativity that is my life. I learned first hand that no matter how much someone loves you, sometimes it simply isn’t enough. Later the story was about love and loss, and babies who needed parents whether or not the parents were working together to be the adults their children deserve…other children who needed a step-mom but wanted her as much as they’d want a toothache…and the way love grows you into becoming who you need to be.
Later the story became about single parenting, and even later still parenting without enough financial support when even two jobs wasn’t enough. Giving up dreams despite victories, health failing, failing everything in life that matters to me, heartbroken. Life has a way of humbling those who believe they can do it on their own. Funny how that works, for we all need each other….and we all need God…where ever you find Him/Her.
These days, the children are grown, our family has enlarged to include other families for over 16 years. I am humbled again, not for the mistakes made, but for the gifts given in the restoration of our families’ peace. We are older, perhaps wiser, but absolutely still learning as we go. The next generation of babies isn’t here yet, but we’re entering the age of children marrying and having children. We’ve chosen peace among us and that has never been an easy choice.
This week the fruits of a long ago planted harvest were ripe for the picking. Love beyond reason….extravagant love for the children first, then later through forgiveness of self and others…we have forged a way…albeit different than many…to find family among us.
God is good….and I am thankful.