Chasing Contentment

Tuesday, August 16

There's an old saying that you can choose your friends but not your family, and my hope is that some of my extended family would choose me as a friend as well. There's something precious about family, especially those living under my roof.

I once wrote an essay about Chosen Family, the people who I choose to have in my life with me. They're not related to me by blood, but they are close to my heart like love.

Several co-workers and I were talking yesterday about preparing our children for the school year, and one mother was telling about how she and her daughter were talking about how school was harder than home and church. At home and church, people love us without question (ideally), and we need to soak up all of that love so that we are prepared to face the world that doesn't always love us.

I want my home to be that kind of love-giving place, not just for my immediate family (which is one of my greatest goals) but for all who come through the doors. I want visitors (who will, admittedly, have to step over dirty clothes and toys and shoes and books and whatnot to get anywhere in the house) to feel loved, to see the love between me and Mike and Griff and Eliza.

My friend, Aleece, lived with us for a few weeks several years ago when Griff was just an infant. I had always sworn that no one would live with us, and yet, at that moment in time, inviting her in seemed like (and was) the right thing to do. And she came to know us deeply. She watched countless Astros games, flipped through the magazines I found interesting at the time, and rocked my Griff to sleep.

She saw us fight and be snippy and petty and downright ugly with one another. She saw us tired and weary and sad and unglued. In our home, we are the most real. We can all put on our good face when needed outside those walls, but when we're home, we're just us. And sometimes that's not very pretty.

When I was on the trip with Mika and Tara, I told them about my tummy fears (maybe if I tell my fears, they won't frighten me any more), and Mika's first response was, "I lived with you." She knew me, and I needn't fear.

The living and loving process brings us past the point of the ugly being what defines us. It's something that happens along the way, to be sure, but what defines us most is the love and the acceptance and the moments when we are at our very best. And so many times, those moments are these tiny little snippets of time when something tender is said or a touch is given or an acknowledgement of understanding is shared.

It's those things that I hope my family - and my home - provide to ... well, to one another, and to those who grace us with their presence. Our family. And our friends who are as dear as family.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, August 16, 2005  ]


Amen, amen, amen. I might have already suggested this before, but you should check out "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them" by John Ortberg. I think you might like it.

I really identify with this post. I want to get to a point in my friendships where we can see the ugliness and accept each other anyway. Just like God does with his children!

I'm curious too...but maybe you don't want to blog about it...what are the tummy fears you speak of?

By Blogger Jana, at 6:50 AM  

Jana -
I've put that book on my Amazon wish list, which is really just my library list in a convenient form. :)

As for the tummy troubles, years ago when Griff was a year or so old, we had this horrible period in our lives. Mike was still new to teaching, so he was writing lessons every night at home, and he was beginning his coursework for his doctorate, and he was gone a lot. His mom was sick and died in this time frame, so we were sorely overdrawn emotionally and physically.

Griff's allergies hadn't yet been identified, so he was sick a lot, and we went through several months where he would get sick and then we would get sick, too. A rotten snowball effect.

I had never had any tummy troubles before, but I had one stomach virus after another during that time, and I even once got sick at Griff's doctor's office, which was mortifying to me.

And it's a joke in my family that I would prefer to pretend that bodily functions didn't exist. We're sure not going to talk about it. (Mike thought my discomfort was hysterical when we were potty training Griff!) So for me to have tummy troubles was hard on my head and my tush, if you get my drift.

And though I've not had trouble like that in a long, long time, it's in my head. The embarassment of it all! So it's now one of my catalog of fears. But I'm taking the tell people up front approach to see if that will eliminate the embarassing part and thus the fear.

By Blogger Chel, at 7:31 AM  

Ohmigosh, Michele, you need to come to MY house, where there is little to no embarassment over those kinds of things AT ALL. It's almost embarassing HOW MUCH we talk about it. I seriously think God gave us gas so we could have something to laugh about! But I'm weird that way. Thanks for sharing. ;)

By Blogger Jana, at 10:37 AM  

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