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These Are My People

August 29, 2010

It has been an interesting experience getting together with friends since I became a wife.  My single friends hesitate a little more with me, my married friends want to share a bit too much now, and my gay friends just think I’m crazy for committing myself to one partner for the rest of my life at such a young age.  Let’s be honest that once you have found the gold at the end of the dating rainbow, relationships start to shift and people look at you differently.  These relational shifts have been surprisingly alarming at times, leaving me unsure of where exactly to fit in and how to relate to others with this new label I carry.  It’s often assumed your relational needs are instantly and automatically fulfilled the moment you get married, but I think that’s a poor assumption.  Marriage was not the only thing God had in mind when He said it was not good for man to be alone.  We all need people, in whatever relationship context they come.  I decided I would make a point to pay better attention to who “my people” were, to notice those who I depend on, and who support me outside of my married relationship.

Week #1:  My People Cost Me Therapy:

I am sitting at the kitchen table at my sister’s new apartment in Florida.  My mother, my sister, her husband, and I are frantically flipping cards in a heated game of “Pounce.”  We haphazardly throw kings and queens and aces in reckless piles before another person has a chance to get their card on top.  Shuffle, shuffle.  Swish.  Slap.  Shuffle, shuffle.  Swish.  Slam.  Slam. “You scummy scum!” my mother shouts out as someone puts their card in a pile before she can.  The game is heating up, and the trash talk is plenty under way.

“I’m going to nail you down to the floor!” shouts my mother.  Shuffle.  Shuffle.  Swish.

“You’re mean!” I yell back.  Shuffle.  Slam.

“Yeah,” my sister says.  Slam.  Shuffle.  Slam.  Slap. She is moving too quickly for the rest of us.

“Eeee!  Eee!  You’re going too fast!” my mom panics, in an octave only dogs can hear.

“Stop freaking out,” my sister responds, “you’re as uptight as Lauren during her wedding planning.”  Cheap shot.

“I hope that’s not true,” my mom retorts.  Shuffle.  Swish. “I don’t want to be like Lauren.”  Wait.  Pause.  Hold the phone and slow down – what?  I freeze my cards mid-air.  She looks over at me and bursts out laughing.   Bursts out laughing.  I flop my cards in a heap in front of me and watch them slide off the table and onto the floor.  3 months of therapy to find out that I cannot prevent becoming my mother because I already am my mother, and then she announces she doesn’t want to be like me?  I know I’m no prize, but seriously?  Is that like saying she doesn’t want to be like herself?  She is still laughing when I look up at her.  In fact, now all three of them are laughing.  All three.  My mother is laughing so hard tears are coming out of her eyes.  I am glaring.  They are laughing.  What a super confidence builder.  I stare them all down with squinted eyes and a thin strip of a smile.  Is this what God had in mind when He gave me my people?

Week #2: My People Are Liars:

I returned home after that Prozac-inducing card game and decided that the best way to build myself back up would be with a haircut.  Fabulous.  I love getting my hair cut.  I booked the appointment, walked into the salon, sat down in my chair, entered into minor chit-chat with my hairdresser and we got going.  Somewhere between the color foils and the “layered feathering,” our conversation turned more serious as we shared our stories about growing up and family life.  I must have been saying all the right things because as my hairdresser was cutting away, she said, “Oh Gawd, Lahren!  You’re just going to have a fabulous life.  Yah know why?”  Pause.  “Becahse.  Becahse you’re cahm, and becahse you know what it’s all about, and becahse you’re relaxed in your life.”  Wow.  Accent and all, can therapy get any better than that?  I didn’t care that this woman doesn’t know me from Adam.  I didn’t care that if she really did know me, she’d know how profoundly incorrect all the lovely things she said about me were.  In reality, I’m a neurotic demanding control freak, but I soaked it all up anyway.  I walked out of that hair salon feeling amazing, feeling like if she repeated those lies about me long enough they just might come true.  Could she be my people, even if the basis of our relationship was false assumptions?

Week #3: My People Are Small Children:

I am lying on the bed of a 7 year old little girl.  My head is propped up against the footboard of her bed, and I am rubbing her feet as she tries to fall asleep.  Little tears wet the corners of her eyes while she complains of a tummy ache and missing Mommy and Daddy.  Her home planetarium creates galaxies and constellations above us.  There is no noise except the gentle swishing of my hand moving back and forth across her small feet.  After 40 minutes of lying there together, she finally lets her eyelids fall.  I just lie there, looking at the glowing stars and relishing this moment where nothing else matters except that she fell asleep.  This moment gives me relief, quiet, peace.  She’s definitely part of my people.

I keep trying to take note of the people around me who influence my life.  Who are the people when God looks at my life, make Him say it is good?  There are the people who are like family.  For better or worse, no matter what, they call it like it is and shoot straight.  They are the ones who know my whole history, and love me in spite of it.  My mom and I were able to joke about her comment in the airport when we both left Florida.  We are a relationship of neurotic equality, and we depend on each other to recognize and tame the other person’s madness.   Then there are the people just meant to fill me up as I pass them by.  Our time together is brief, but not without purpose.  They encourage without knowing it, without trying for it, and without knowing the whole truth of who I am.  I love these people because they give me fresh perspective on what I could be.  They show me a small glimpse of my future.  And then there are those who bring me peace.  Those whose presence is like rest in and of itself, and looks no different than a child who has just fallen asleep.  Without the peacemakers in my life, I would lose my hope.

My people are a ragamuffin group.  They’re scrappy and quirky and they fit.  They fit me.  They are the “good” in my world of not-good, and they complete the relational picture that God intended for me to have.  My marriage completes a part of that too, but we’ve all still got to have people.  One person alone wouldn’t be enough to handle me.

One Comment leave one →
  1. The K-I-D permalink
    August 29, 2010 11:40 pm

    If I remember the “Week 1” situation correctly, I didn’t laugh. I want the readers to know this. I kept my mouth zip-locked shut and, in fact, left the card table. Admittedly, thought, half the reason I left the table was out of frustration because I’m horrible at Pounce…

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