I won't lie to you. I've spent the past year pretty much oscillating between hating my life and trying to make the best of what I had left. I've been depressed to the point where all it takes is a song on the radio or the sight of something that reminds me of my family and friends back home and I cry. We've found an "okay" church, but there's no place like HOPE. Our church community in Naperville set the bar pretty high for any church we would ever find in the future. I missed my family. The thing about my family is, we could go weeks or months without talking but if any of us needed anything we'd be there for each other. So even when things were smooth sailing, I always had the security of that safety net beneath me. Having that safety net of love that gives you a safe place to land is empowering and liberating. It means you can try more things and you never really fear rejection. Because even if they reject you, your safety net stands ready to catch you and clean you up and hold you until you're all right again. I've been out here all alone. I know that my whole support system was only a phone call, text or email away but that's just not the same thing as a hug, or a long talk over a cup of coffee. It's just not the same.
But gradually, it's gotten better. First I found a few really special people here. They are diamonds. They are truly some of the best people I've met in...forever. And I can't believe how lucky I was to just fall into knowing them. But with them, it's a little bit better. And then, I met the rest of my husband's family. Now, up until actually meeting them all I knew was what I was told by others about them. And some of it wasn't all that pretty. But we ran into each other online (Facebook rules) and chatted and they seemed cool, and then we met Mr.'s cousins and aunt. And wouldn't you know it, they were actually really good people. And I'm related to them. Who knew?
Yesterday, we hosted Christmas dinner for Mr.'s extended family. And it was perfect. It was fun and the food was good and the company was wonderful. I got to know them a little bit more and bond with them a little bit more too. It was one of my best Christmases ever. And as I stood in my kitchen finishing up cooking and getting ready to serve the meal, my brain did a little rewind of all the moments that led up to this moment...(insert montage of meeting and dating and getting engaged and getting married and having a baby and moving across the country here) and I couldn't help but feel very grateful for the journey.
At the end of the night, as folks were getting ready to go home we paused to take a big family picture in my living room. Or if you're from the Midwest, in my front room. If you're from Chicago, in my fronchroom. :) But the point is, we took a big, happy picture all together and all I could do was whisper a prayer of thanks for the gift of even more family to love. When I saw the picture after Mr. pulled it off his camera, one thing popped out at me: the phrase on the plaque on the wall behind us all (which is also the title of this post).