i have a friend who has wrestled with God for a really long time about being single. at one point, he truly felt that the Lord was asking him to surrender his dreams for a family, and learning to live in the tension between honestly wanting to surrender and yet not being super-happy about it was difficult for him. we were talking about it one night, and he asked me what i thought, and i found myself saying, without really thinking about it, “i just wish the Church had given you a better story.”
but as i heard myself say it, i knew it rang true. a better story – to believe in, to hope for – would have made the struggle a very different experience.
the story that is painted for us, from the time we are very small, is this: “…and they lived happily ever after. the end.”
it’s reinforced as we grow up by playground rhymes: “…sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…”
and then we get to college, and people really do start pairing off, falling in love, getting married, and having babies.
and those of us who – for whatever reason – didn’t get married… we are left wondering: “is it me? is there something wrong with me?”
we don’t always think that way, and we don’t always feel bad about it. but in those late night moments when it would be really nice to have someone to talk to, or in those horrible moments when an unexpected bill shows up, or when there are just everyday details like how to buy a car or sell a house or what to do next in our careers, and having someone to sort it out with us would be the best thing ever… those are the moments in which we ask the hard (and often wrong) questions.
“what did i do wrong? why am i alone?”
and the loneliness can choke us.
we’re going to talk more later on in this series about giving the Church a better story – but in the meantime…
can i just say this one thing?
i don’t just mean all the however-true-but-nevertheless-cliché things people mean when they say you’re not alone. i don’t mean that God is with you and that everything is going to be okay, that it isn’t always going to be like this, or that people are praying for you. all of those things are probably true, especially the part about God being with you. but knowing it doesn’t always help.
sometimes you just need someone to take you in.
someone with living breath in their lungs, expelled to tell you that it will be okay. someone who is smarter than you are. someone who can buy your groceries or watch your kid or help you pack when you have to move. someone with warm hands to hold your icy cold ones. someone to hold you while you cry, or cheer you on while you take down that one last seemingly unsurmountable hurdle between you and a whole new better life.
sometimes you just need family.
the kind of family who shows up even tho they’re not related. who meets the needs you have and allows you to meet theirs. the kind of family that just adopts you into their lives, as is, without apology – and expects the same from you. the kind of family who are the hands and feet of Jesus to you, who share their stuff and give up their time because they know you need them to, and that you would do the same for them if you could. the kind of family who really doesn’t care that you could never pay them back.
we are not always going to get it right, this trying-to-be-like-Jesus thing, this trying-to-be-a-better-family thing. we are not always going to succeed in proving to each other that we are not alone – we will forget to show up, to check in, to ask about each others’ days.
but that does not mean we should not try.
God is with us.
He is with us…
He has given us each other.
and we are not alone.
"Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else." —Fred Rogers via @momentumdash
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"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Einstein