I’ve been waiting all week to write this post. I just haven’t known how to put it into words. You know? There are things that you just have to see and feel – “you just had to be there.” Sometimes, (very rarely in my world), you can share it on your living room couch sitting close to your Love, and somehow, miraculously, they “get it.”
A blog post is about as far from our living room as you get, so I just have to suck it up and do what I can with words on a page [i.e. screen]. Sometimes I wish I was a photographer, not a writer. But I have a husband, family, and friends with a good eye, so that helps. 🙂
I feel and see a lot of disconnection in my everyday life. I think most of us probably do. By this, I mean times when we just feel off – insecure and alone – no matter how close physically we might be to our loved ones, something is just off.
Every morning on my walk I pass homeless women and men just waking up from their night on the sidewalk to another day without security. I work in a pre-school with babies and toddlers who spend 10 hours everyday away from their mommies and daddies. Some 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some are in foster care so they don’t even go home to a mommy at the end of the long day. They are all so eager to tell me what their mommy or daddy bought them – to show me a newly gifted shirt, water bottle, or a pair of colorful sandals. Their parents are doing the best they can to connect with their children, with the very little resources they have.
I would like to say my own family is just bursting with connection.
I get home and Joel and I are like this.
And when the Lundquist clan all gets together we only have wonderful, meaningful times.
But of course we all know, that is not the whole story. My family is beautiful, for sure, but there’s a whole lot of messiness mixed in.
Many days, I feel just as disconnected from Joel as the 2 year old crying for her mommy when she says goodbye every morning at my pre-school. No matter how much quality time Joel and I have reading together, cooking to jazz, going out for breakfast, etc., things happen and I often feel this “disconnect.”
All that to say, I’ve found that my understanding of “connection” is a bit skewed.
So here’s the story from last week.
I see this elderly couple every morning when I go for my daily walk. We’ve never spoken, but we always wave at each other. The wife walks with a limp, so the husband holds her hand and helps her along. They walk through the water even though it would probably be easier to walk on the sand. Everyday without fail, they show up and walk alongside each other, the husband moving at his wife’s pace.
When they wave at at me – I FEEL the JOY – the connection they have.
And last week when I saw them, I cried. Not just cried, but bawled. Right out there on the beach. I couldn’t help it. I was overwhelmed with the reality of what it means to walk alongside another person faithfully in relationship through a journey.
This couple is not frolicking through meadows, healthy and full of energy. They are limping along, enjoying the ocean lapping at their legs, offering each other strength through what is not an easy part of their journey.
That is connection.
That is what I want – to know that no matter whether Joel and I are happy or secure or whatever – we are connected to Christ (He is the vine) and we are connected to each other no matter what this journey brings. That is not a feeling. That is truth.
Last week I deleted Facebook from my phone because I realized I was getting depressed and discouraged seeing all the (apparently) happy, hopeful, harmonious photos of couples and families feeling all ooshy gooshy lovey. (And I fully admit, we do it too!) Lately I’ve caught myself thinking – I must be doing something wrong – I’m not that way. But those photos are moments, not the nitty gritty stuff of life.
Brene Brown says, “If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path.” *
Vulnerability is messy. It means Joel and I are going to days when we miss each other all over the place and have to have hard talks. There are going to be many times when we hurt each other and have to learn to say, “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.”
“I’m sorry again.” “I forgive you.” (x70x7)
We have to learn to love the messy parts of each other, too. (The parts we don’t post on Facebook).
And there will be those moments I “feel” connected – like just now when Joel walked in and surprised me to say “Hi” for a minute before he had to run to class. It makes my heart burst with joy.
But then there will be other times when my heart is sad because we’ve “missed” each other (not understood, failed to meet each other where we’re at), and it doesn’t mean we’re disconnected. It doesn’t mean we’re doing things wrong. It means we live in a fallen world and we have to learn “our way back to each other.” Like everyone keeps reminding me, it’s a process. It’s a journey.
And this week, I am so grateful for that couple out there on the beach everyday, holding hands as they limp along, showing me what it looks like to be faithful in relationship no matter the circumstance – moment by moment, day after day, year after year, whatever this journey brings.
Now I’m going to cry again.
*Quote from Brene Brown’s Ted Talk, “Listening to Shame“