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Sunday, May 09, 2021

34 years of sharpening love and courage: marriage and mothering as tools for holiness

 34 years ago today, Scott and I stood in front of our families and friends and recited 1 Cor 13. 

It was Mother's Day weekend, and flowers were hard to arrange, but in other ways a celebration of a wedding and Mother's Day appropriately intersect. Both look glorious in photos, cards, feasts and speeches, and truly those captures of beauty are true. But both also involve the paradox of choosing to loose life to gain it. Marriage and mothering, living with edges that are filed smoother by another, living with choices that are constricted and space that is unprotected, living with the constant reality of community . . . means a sort of death to unrestrained self promotion, that Jesus calls the path to life. 

Jesus says, if you want to find life, then loose your life. 

And those are paths for all humans to choose, whether biologically producing a child (which for most women in the world is quite risky) or accepting a role to make the vulnerable flourish, whether formally committing to a spouse or accepting the inconveniences of friendship and partnership.  All that God made has been declared good, and we look forward to the unbridled joy of being fulfilled in our unique image of the light and truth one day. But to get there, the path is the cross. I think mothers learn that, as do spouses. Birth itself treads so close to death; a decision to sacrifice for another bonds us in mysterious ways.

Today the two days intersect, and it has been a delight to be with 3 of 5 kids, to get messages from some of our Ugandan fostered-kid relationships, to have just spent solid times with both of our own mothers. A COVID drought has cascaded us into a month in WV/NC, much of it with my mom and a couple of weekend intersections AS a mom with Julia and Caleb. Then a week in CA with Scott's mom, at her home and a memorable drive up Route 1 to explore some quaint coastal towns and admire the majestic redwoods. And now in Utah, where Luke, Abby and Jack reside beneath a backdrop of snow-covered peaks and we can hike in the alpine scrub. They even let me do a classic mom adventure hike that was longer and steeper and more-bramble-covered than anyone anticipated.

My verse for the year was just a bit further in 1 Cor . . . 16:13-14 and I thought of it today. Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. Those are words for a marriage and for mothering. Paying attention to the man I am walking through life with, who is kind and sure. Standing fast in faith when those I love seem to be at risk of faltering, in sickness or persecution or disappointment and loss. Being brave in a long year of separation, being strong when it's time to fight for those we love. And being willing to do all that not by forcing my way, but by accepting God's way of love.

Enjoy some photos, most of the last few days or weeks, a few from further back, of the rich fabric of being mothered, being married, and mothering others.  I am so thankful for the solid foundation our mothers Judy and Ruth have given us, for the faithfulness of my 34-year husband (and 41-year friend) Scott, and the delight of watching these amazing human beings in our life grow in their own directions with courage and heart.

Lastly, the anniversary photo from today's hike: