Exactly ten years ago today, I walked into a College and Career church gym-night and met the man I would marry. It was my 20th birthday. Wes was playing game of 3-on-3 basketball and I was on the sidelines, trying to look like I was comfortable in the setting.
But I was desperate to belong to a group. I went the church in search of a friend, I didn’t know I’d find my future.
He came off the court sweaty and gross and plunked down on the ground beside me. I remember thinking, “Ew, you need a shower…” but then, he showed me a part of himself I still cherish today – his genuine heart.
“I like your necklace, it’s pretty.” He fumbles and looks a bit scared.
I nervously look down. Oh, yes, the seashell one.
“Oh, thanks.” Awkward silence follows.
Somehow we made our way into the snack room (which, might I add, was a much more comfortable setting for me than a basketball court… ha!). We sat and we talked and we didn’t stop until about three hours later.
Wes and I knew pretty quickly that him and I, we were one in the same.
Neither of us felt like we every really belonged. Not in our peer groups, that’s for sure. And if we ever did belong, it was to the wrong person or the wrong crowd. We were both 20, and both seeking just what on earth our future was supposed to hold.
We didn’t know what was in store for us. We didn’t know in those first few weeks of holding hands and talking for hours and him complementing me that my face was “well put together”. We didn’t know that within a year, we’d be pregnant with our first baby and planning a wedding. Yeah, sometimes, things work out like that.
Ten years later, three children later, the house, the garden, the hugs, the talks, the big decisions and the little decisions, the really, really rough days, and the laughing out loud days – here we are. To many, I might look the same – but I’m truly nothing the same.
Everything has changed.
We belong to each other. We belong to our children. We belong to Christ Jesus.
And in who we belong to, we find our true self. We grow, we change, we seek, and we find. And we love. We learn that love is so much more about accepting each other right where you are and realizing that we belong to each other because God gave us to each other and that right there – it’s a gift.
Our children belong to us and they belong to God and we belong to Him too.
The searching for where to rest is gone. Because we can rest right here – in this Holy Belonging.
When we can look around us at the happy, crazy mess of family life, we can embrace this sacred belonging and realize, God plants it in our hearts. Even the hearts of two crazy, confused kids at twenty years old. Yes, even then, we were searching for that space of knowing we were home.
And now today, turning thirty – I see the path that God laid out. I see the imperfect way we’ve walked it. And I see His loving arm around us whispering always, “You belong to me, children… I will take care of me – you take care of each other…”
All I can do it look up at the sunny sky and thank God for everything He gives. Grace -oh, boy! Grace overflowing my soul and love so abundantly.
I hear the giggles of kids hiding birthday gifts for Mama, I glance out the kitchen window and the leaves shimmer – I breathe out.
I am home.