Wednesday, June 29, 2011

If I could say one thing at your wedding....

This last weekend I was in a wedding of a dear, dear friend.  The bride and groom asked their attendants and a few others to assemble a bouquet of love and support for them. They asked each of us to speak for approximately 30 seconds during the ceremony.  More specifically they asked that we would share a word of encouragement, a thought on Scripture as it pertains to marriage, bits of wisdom from personal experience, or affirmation of what we know or have observed of them or our hope for their life together (and then add a flower, which they gave us, into a vase).

I agonized over this for DAYS. I mean, how can you really illustrate a picture of someone or sum up anything profound in 30 seconds? You can’t, unless you’re Maya Angelou or someone as poetically inclined. However I tried my darndest to add depth and wisdom and sincerity in my 30 second sermon. I said something along the lines of:

“Romans 12:10 reads “Love one another with genuine affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” We talk a lot about love but we don’t talk nearly as much about honor. To honor means to respect, esteem, dignify, to speak highly of each other when the other person isn’t around. Please remember to outdo one another in showing honor, to respect each other as much as you love each other.”

Or something to that effect. I had it written on a note card which got lost in the hustle and bustle of the never ending picture session.

I meant it, every word, and I chose that particular thing to talk about because frankly it isn’t something that my husband and I do well and I see the effects of a lack of honor. However there are a few things that I’d like to add in my 30 seconds +. Without further adieu:

1.    Don’t take yourself too seriously. You aren’t always right and your spouse won’t always get it right, and that is life.

2.    Do your best to see things in perspective, to see baby steps of progress when it feels like you have gotten nowhere.

3.    Remember how much time you spent planning your wedding down to the littlest detail? Remember how much time you spent the day before your wedding trying to make sure you had the best laid plans? Spend just as much time and effort working on your marriage daily.

4.    Serve one another in the little things. People say little things don’t matter but if something little matters to your spouse, then do your best to serve them in the little things.

5.    Make sure that your spouse’s name is always safe in your mouth. Never slander them or degrade them to other people.

6.    Make each other laugh.

7.    Learn about the ways your spouse likes to be loved and put them into practice, and in the same breath, see how they love well and do your best to accept it even if it isn’t your thing.

And there you have them… a few things that if given the chance I’d say at your wedding. There are more and trust me I’ve failed miserably at everything on this list, but we try and really that is all that we can ask of each other.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Truth in Fiction

I’ve always wondered how she copes.

I see her every week day at work, tired and emotionally strained. It is almost as if she feels everything. She’s only thirty years old but going on eighty.  

I knew a girl like her once in high school. Always fighting some sort of battle. Her inward struggles always managed an outward manifestation. She was angry, tired, sad, sometimes happy, joyful, and even occasionally relaxed. Whichever emotion possessed her at the time she never did a good job of hiding it. I found it annoying and exhausting, her ping-pong of emotions, but also in a strange way I admired it. It was unfamiliar to someone as unemotional as myself, or maybe I should say calloused.  

The high school girl had a coping mechanism. I noticed one day in the locker room before gym class. Thin precise cuts in rows of three down her legs, stopping shortly before the hem of her shorts. They were all in various stages of healing, some fresh and some already scarred. I stared a little too long and she noticed my lingering. She shot me a “mind your own business” sort of glare and so I did. I was too scared and thought I was too cool to care about someone like her.

Today I wish I would have said something, at least tried to make a difference.

I admit that I’ve often recalled this girl to mind when interacting with my coworker. It’s empowering knowing that there are no should’ve, would’ve , could haves yet. I’ve done my best to build a semi-functional relationship in our 9-5 lives. I’ve asked loads of questions trying to uncover her coping. I know she isn’t a cutter like the girl I knew before. Once she told me she liked to get drunk and hook up with random guys but I could tell it was a lie.

Then one day I started talking about this. The silly blog that I use to write about random little stories. I could tell right away that it resonated with her on a new level that I hadn’t experienced before.  Soon we were talking about her manuscript, the book she has started writing just for fun. I immediately offered to read it. She hesitated but eventually agreed.

I “proofread” it for her cover to cover last night. It was brilliant and enthralling. I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t the content that knocked me off my feet but the characters. She wrote herself into fiction, and for the first time I had a real glimpse into what she FEELS. She copes by lacing all her insecurities and shortcomings and feelings into a beautiful plot line. The story is far from finished and I can hardly wait for the finale. Sure, it is just fiction, but from my vantage point there isn’t much that I have seen that is truer than fiction.