I heard someone comment on another couple last week, letting this roll of their tongue: “Oh, they are the perfect couple—to have their life…. “ With a fake and very forced knowing smile I nodded and then wished I could find some kind of paper bag to release my impending puke.
I was sick.
Downright nauseated because truth is there are great couples, but there are no perfect couples because there are no perfect people. Maybe on the cover of People magazine, but not here in the world of reality.
When I was a little girl I would dork out and watch Anne of Greene Gables over and over and over. Until the VHS tape would unravel. Why?
Partly because I was a chunky, prepubescent goober and had nothing better to do. And partly because I loved the storyline, but mostly because I would get in lala land over Anne and her ever dramatic love life. Because every little girl dreams of what their Prince Charming will appear as in their own life. What he will look like. And who he will be. Even the hard core feminist wants someone to love her.
All that to say, we all have our fantasies and last week as we were going about our hectic ordinary,routine life, as I was chasing down something I had lost—usually my keys, phone, or one of my umpteen writing pads. This day it was my blessed keys. Seth was lumbering behind me huffin’ and puffin’ and lovingly sniggering which really translates: “My goodness I love this girl but how does she lose her friggin’ keys EVERY day? We have gone through SIX spares.” So he is always there, behind me trying to retract my steps to help me because it’s an infirmity no drug or therapy can fix—always trying to find whatever it is that I have misplaced. While his role is to usually play a full time Sherlock Holmes and be my “life secretary”, my role is very different as Seth loses nothing. Besides his sanity over my insanity. I however, usually find myself walking around the house talking out every direction of my mouth, always trying to encourage him because the melancholy monster can get ahold of him sometimes and shake him down and truth is me and the monster don’t get along because I just won’t stand for him to beat up my husband like that. At least without asking me first.
A lot of our days our messes. Glorious messes. Not at all like the movies. Or my imaginings as a preteen of green gables and its heavenly landscapes. Or even my dreams when I met Seth as a teenager. There are no horses, no golden carriages. There are no whisking me away and writing he loves me in the sky (which would creep me out anyhow).
But there is the glorious mundane things such as: snotty noses, Roman running naked in the house with his backpack on because he wants his cars and trains with him at ALL times, Sonny passing gas in the corner because Joe, our neighbor, fed him fried chicken, Nicholas playing jokes on me by putting stickers from the grocery store that say “boneless” on my rear only to have someone stop me and tell me, Posey talking as much gibberish as me except hers is expected because she is cute and 6 months and I am thirty- four years old and know better.
Then there is just Seth and I. Two people who on the outside see life through completely different telescopes —mine is bright orange with pink polka dots, messy,nicked and probably has dirty handprints all over it—his is black, shiny, clean, gleaming, not a smudge, not a smidgen. But what we see inside those telescopes are the same. The same dreams. The same love for traveling. The same brokenness that has led us the crossroad of Jesus- whatever-you-want-for-my-life-it’s- just-too-dadgum-hard-without-you. The same love of the urban life. The same love of big breakfasts and bold coffees. The same love for talking too much. The same passion for music though we have negative music talent—I love the lyrics, he loves the beat…that about sums us up. Then there is that same desire for our kids to know at an early age that there are people unlike them, that look different, act different and have way less. We always pray that if our children are going to compare their lives then we pray they’d compare it to those that have less, not more. And we have that same longing that ourselves, as well as our kids would know that poor people are often rich people with hurting hearts, in other words the harvest is plenty just look around.
Usually if you are that ant that I talk about, that nomadic one wandering the crooked walls of this geometrically challenged old house you will hear Seth telling me he wants to be in my brain for at least a day just to see what all goes on inside there because it seems so free –it’s the very thing that he adores about me and drives him nuts . Then you will hear me chuckle only to remind him that he really doesn’t want to enter the unchartered territory otherwise known as my noggin because the chaos and commotion would wear him plum out before he could take his first step—I always think my mind is like a dresser with all the drawers open…clothes hanging out, notebooks half open and pen smearing’s everywhere because the only way to create order in my mind is to have a little bit of pandemonium! A tidy mind would be my demise. My only saving grace is that I am driven as all get out so at least it keeps the commotion and bedlam moving along:)
And with these acknowledgements of who we are and who we are not we try to live out our lives…
Most days I come home with Posey, Roman and often Nicholas around 5:30, Nick complaining that he is s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g even though he ate a 5,983 calorie snack after school, Roman shedding his clothes as soon as he walks in the door because doggone it he missed his calling to be President t of the nudist colony. Posey being her sweet self, waiting for me to take her out of her blessed car seat and let her jump up and down in one of those obnoxious bouncy seats that I swore I’d never have, but then quickly realized that over the top, primary clad thing would allow me to make dinner and take a breath .
Shortly after I get home, Seth comes home grabs a kid or two, depending on how overwhelmed I am. Either wrestling with Roman or loving on Posey while he watches Jeopardy because that is just what you do when you major in history and don’t use one lick of your degree to pay the bills. The man has to show off his random, superfluous knowledge somehow. Then while eating we may or may not be serenaded by some over the top rap music which is our neighborhood’s trade mark. Most neighborhoods have kids riding bikes, Moms with babes in strollers. Nope, not ours. We have gangster music,wanna be artists, a hippie next door growing legal produce while I try to merely keep my house plants alive …oh, and an incredible view of Charlotte Pike…seriously, don’t be jealous.
Why do I tell you all this?
What does this have to do with a perfect marriage?
Well, it doesn’t.
It has to do with the fact that sometimes when you let go of what you thought your life should look like then it brings freedom to every facet of your life—including your relationships. This truth leaks into the smallest crevices of our thinking…every room in our heart gets remodeled: our marriages, our friendships, our everyday humdrum days that end up being our lives. All of a sudden life looks different. The rooms have not changed. No walls moved. The dreadful paint is still there. The worn out rug still the same. The pictures still hang crooked. The tables still need dusted. It’s just you learn to appreciate it instead of always wishing it were something else. Then that which was ugly becomes beautiful because it’s yours and no one else’s. Your imperfect life becomes your gift.
I am so thankful that life didn’t go the way I had planned, that I didn’t work in NYC like I wanted, that I didn’t move into a typical neighborhood, that the first few years of our marriage were hard…really hard…like I wanted to move back with mom and dad hard and thank the Lord for good counselors kind of hard!! But it’s the roads that Jesus sends me down…you down, the roads we try to desperately to avoid, that lead us straight to where you and I need to be…which is being yourself.
For most of our lives nothing has gone as intended for Seth and I. We plan to go South, God plans for us to go North. We plan to fly; God wants us to walk straight uphill. I planned to be done with kids by 32…well, we all know how that worked out We want Him to promise life will be safe for a good solid year, He gives us a tight rope and gently holds our hand not telling us where we are going BUT letting us know we will not fall if we just keep our eyes on Him.
Then there has been the journey of discovering who we really are when we thought or rather fought who we were. Seth and I have had to accept that he is an entrepreneur at his core (even though I brawled this like hell) – it is the most flexible and rigid lifestyle possible. Some years are over the top great. Some years not so much. But we have learned that plenty or want– it all is from the hand of God. All we are and have—time,money,talent, even our children are simply on lend until we are called home.
We have both watched me journey to accepting myself. I struggled with who I was—the way my mind worked—at an early age my mind was in the clouds…more like beyond the clouds. Even in elementary school I would “check out”. In first grade my teacher wanted to send me back to kindergarten because my mind wandered and I literally would leave this world during math and reading and escape to these unknown places—I would hear a bird or see a tree outside and there went my imagination off into “Lindsay Land” as Seth calls it. I hated it about myself. But it was in my DNA. My grandfather was the same way. He got lost going home because his awareness would wander, imagine, create. I will never forget my senior English teacher chewing me out about it one day because she said I dreamed too much. And she was right. I cannot help it. It’s what makes me lose my keys. It’s what makes me so disheveled. It’s what makes me the worst admin person EVER. But it is also the VERY thing God has used to allow me to write stories. I can stand in the grocery store line, world spinning around me and I will be constructing some sentence in my head all because I heard some sound bite, some interaction, something that signaled my subconscious…and off, off and away goes my mind. My brain takes a hiatus from this world and meanders down these wild, wondrous places that even I don’t know where they lead until I later write them down. Weird, I know. But, I either embrace it or go mad trying to be someone else.
I digress. ( can you tell I battle myself way too often??)
The voyage to me finding freedom in my flaws and beauty in my brokenness has been a bumpy ride. I for so long wanted to be who I was not. So often we get derailed in life, in our relationships, in our lives, because we are constantly getting on someone else’s track. When we get on someone else’s track we walk in circles—going nowhere fast, when we get on our own path, it may be a steep climb but at least it is going somewhere—the top. And the top is the only place you can see how far you have come. Only when you get to the top you see that you were never equipped to walk that other path. Only yours.
I have mentioned before when the weight to be someone you’re not becomes heavier than just being yourself than you have found your freedom. And it’s so true, my friends.
Why in the world am I divulging all this nonsense? What has this to do with you?
Well, it has everything to do with YOU. Because in life, in any kind of relationships…we have to love who we are to be able to love others…spouse,friends,family. And that means accepting that we are perfectly imperfect. Life is not the movies. It is so much better.
Because it is ours. It is yours. It is your story. Your legacy. No one else’s.
You’ll never live life fully until you stop looking at everyone else. Don’t get me wrong you will still peek at times. On really bad days you will glance over quite a lot. And that’s okay.
It’s the coming back that counts. It’s the: this is my flawed, wonderful marriage and no one else’s. It’s the: I am still single and I hate it every second of it but at least it’s my life I am living and no one else’s. It’s the: I am struggling with infertility and everyone is popping out babies like bunnies, but at least it’s my journey. And it’s the: money ain’t coming in, but my God I am learning that the phrase: “He is faithful” is not some feel good church cliche, it is TRUE.
All these things have one thing in common: They will end up being your story. It will be what changes and resuscitates the lives around you. Your story is the greatest gift you have in this life. No one can take it from you. It will be passed on for generations…if you just let it be yours.
Truth is this: Envy rots the bones, scars the soul, and suffocates the power of your own story.
Don’t let someone else write your story.
…And some all too ordinary pics of that which is our crazy little life.
Our post school treat..aka, Sweet Cece’s. if there was stock in this ice cream store, we’d be buying it:)
I love this pic because one day a week I don’t do any other writing but writing on my book. It’s not exciting or glorious. Just emotionally exhausting. And when i wanted to quit that day…because I just didn’t have it in me. There she was with that sweet smile. That’s all any Mama needs to keep on keeping on.
Roman with a backpack and a book. But he is making up his own story because poor thing he has way too much of me in him. The sweet angel “checks out” just like his mama. I have a feeling SEth is going to be chasing down TWO people’s set of keys one day.
I definitely went through 199 anti bacterial wipes that night then some. That place is breeding grounds for some kind of funky flu.