I’ll admit it openly. Living with my in-laws has been wonderful in many, many ways. Still, there have been moments, and even some days, of tension and uncertainty between Peggy and I. Forgiving, apologizing, and trying to make sure we understand one another definitely takes more effort now that a month (and a little more) has passed since the kids and I arrived.
Still, she and I both know that the effort is well worth it to maintain the friendship that started when I was just a teenager. Long before I knew I would marry her son. She is worth every effort I can make, and she is worth my faithful prayers for her. (To answer the question I know is brewing in some of your minds: No, I don’t ever pray that God changes her – I only pray that he blesses her, and that the kids and I are blessings to her while we are here.)
It is hard to feel suspended and out of place. No matter where we go here, my kids and I are guests. Family or not, we are in homes not our own. No matter how welcoming, home-like, or open the house is, we are guests. Homeless, in a sense.
It takes tremendous effort and large amounts of grace to be good guests.
It also takes a lot of little things. Small apologies, small conversations, small kindnesses exchanged.
It takes my sitting back, and just watching Granny & Grandad interact with their grandkids in ways I never thought of. Watching those moments that are unique to loving, wise grandparents. Watching the patience they have with their grandkids in areas where I am so impatient, and being open to learning by observation.Little things like Granny dancing a jig with her grandson, and teaching them how to play Irish instruments, air-band style. Going to secondhand stores to find little things for the girls to make hand-sewn dolls “just like Granny did when she was little.” To do things together that will delight and enrich the kids’ lives in ways that we grown-ups can only just remember. Painting, sewing on a button, trying something new, eating together, reading together.
T-shirt capes, kissing freckles, daily chores, corn husk dolls, blackberry forts, mud pies, chickens, campfires, cloudy days, the first fall rain, and the special quiet that belongs to the country. Random “I love you’s,” text messages from far-away friends, homemade eye patches, tennis shoes thumping in the dryer, morning and evening coffee together. A treasure chest filled with (what else?) treasures of four children.Our lives right now are rich with flavor, character, and joy in the midst of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. They are growing richer by the moment, in spite of the hard things. In spite of feeling a bit homeless and out of place. In spite of being separated by four states from my Very Best Friend and Lover. In spite of being emotionally weird, and in spite of not fully understanding all that is going on.
It really is the little things in life that make it so much bigger, and open my eyes to see where I can grow and change and mature a little bit more. (Okay, a lot more!) It is the little things about being here in this house that I love so much, and that is where I try to live. In the moments, in the little things.
What are the little things in your life today that make it all worth it? What people in your life do you find to be worth the effort of going through hardships in your relationship? Why?
Grace & Peace,