We were there to photograph my daughter and her friend, wanting to bless the friend with lovely images of herself. We wanted to capture a budding friendship, and create images for each girl to shine a light on her inner (and outer) beauty, and we brought our family so we could enjoy a sunflower field at the same time. It was unseasonably warm, and ever-the-
over-planner-optimist, I’d hoped to capture some family images and a new headshot all on the same day. But sweating while I carried gear (with plenty of help), and lacking artistic focus except for in the favor of the girls, I was giving up hope of the second goal I had. Busy appreciating their youthful beauty, I self-criticized. I didn’t feel pretty, and being in front of the camera did NOT sound fun. I’m not gonna lie: I was having one of those self-centered, pouty moments, when hope in marriage seems fragile and elusive.
“Go stand over there, mama,” my girl said. She instructed her dad to join me. May I add that sweating profusely while standing among fields of sunflowers (mixed, surely, with the inevitable weeds) does NOT make me feel romantic, either?
She wouldn’t budge, though. She took a moment and knotted my hair into some bohemian on-the-fly up-do, and she touched up my lipstick. She used her shirt sleeve to dab the “glisten” on my nose. And then she told me to snuggle with her dad.
For just a few minutes, I forgot that I was hot and bothered, feeling chubby and disheveled, and let myself relax into my husband’s arms. I let myself feel the way I’ve always wanted my photography clients to feel: free from the “weeds” of the everyday, and in love with the guy who won my heart all those years ago. I felt like “his girl,” and I felt pretty in his eyes.
For just a few minutes, while our youngest kiddos and my daughter’s teenage friend tried to ignore our “mush,” I melted into the moment, and I let our daughter remind me of one of the things in this life that really matters: the commitment of two people to “make it work” over decades, despite our individual and mutual brokenness, for a bigger purpose than ourselves.
By pushing me to get outside myself, my daughter reminded me that the fragile gift of hope in marriage is worth nurturing. It sets an example for the generation to come.
We’re in a season of transition as a family. My oldest two are exploring their next steps in growing and pursuing their calling. They’re primarily living in other states, thankfully close together and pursuing relationship with each other. I’ve never been the mom who couldn’t wait for them all to leave, and I’d be lying if I said their leaving didn’t leave a hole in my heart and in our home and rhythm as a family. (Ask me sometime about the big, wretched ugly-cry that shocked me when my second headed off to hike the Appalachian Trail). But something really cool has happened along the way.
I’ve been “surprised by joy,” as C.S. Lewis would say, in the changing rhythms of our family.
There’s a new type of interaction happening, between us as parents and our children, and between our kids, themselves. It wouldn’t be hard, though, for me to fall into a type of mourning, a grey-state, that shadowed the sunlight of what’s happening in our home. The ones still living and studying daily with us, their parents with a new type of attention to give, are both grieving with us at the parting of their siblings, and reveling in the sweetness of our ever-changing daily life. Stopping to melt into that is a gift, for me and for them.
Heaven knows, life is full of fields of weeds. From our inner mess to the mess in our world, it would be so easy to lose ourselves in a cloud of resigned survival. But I’m so thankful that my Papa uses my family to make me stop and melt into the moment. I’m praying that with or without a sunflower field, I will remember to seek the heart of my husband with tenderness and grace, to find the romance in the everyday.
How do you stop and melt into the moments, finding hope in marriage and love in the weeds?