I just got pulled into one of many of the articles that pop up on my newsfeed. This one started with the phrase “I long for normal…” and I was hooked. That’s the exact wording I have been feeling this week but couldn’t put into words. Well, that’s not true, I didn’t want to put it into words. Saying that out loud, and even thinking it, feels selfish and petty and wrong. But that doesn’t mean the feeling goes away.
Now, the woman writing the article was talking about her daughter who has a disorder that makes the family of four’s life more and more difficult. The more I read, the guiltier I felt. No one in my life is suffering this way and in no way is my life affected to the extent that her’s is…but I still ache. And every time I think about it, the guilt grows.
I should explain. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for a month now and nothing in the world has made me happier. He is truly one of the biggest blessings in my life. But we haven’t had the newlywed experience that most do. Sure, our week spent in Jamaica after the wedding was fantastic and a honeymoon I will never forget. But, after that week we returned to our beautiful home…and our girls. Matt and I have no children of our own yet, but our house is filled with movement, excitement and noise because we have, as of Sunday, five young women living with us who I adore but who also make our life anything but normal.
Before we were married, my husband (who is truly a saint in many ways…but that is a reflection in and of itself for a later time) had founded and led an intentional Catholic living community which, in it’s two years of existence, provided the world with graces that continue to be discovered. Unfortunately, that time came to a close and left some of the younger members without a place to go because of bad family lives or other unsafe conditions. So, when we purchased our house, we were looking for more than enough bedrooms. And when we closed on our house last summer, we moved in with 3 housemates. Over the year, we have hosted a number of others for short or longer periods of time for a variety of reasons and, in the past month, have added bunk beds to our future nursery for our newest two additions. Our house now holds the seven of us pretty comfortably.
As you can see, though, we are far from normal and sometimes I get exhausted just explaining that to people who never really understand our situation…sometimes I wonder if I do! And not all days are happy Brady Bunch-inspired scenes. I get tired and frustrated a lot more than I should. I need time outs to compose myself. I need to remember the good. But my husband shines through in these instances. His heart is much bigger than mine a lot of the time and he carries the joys and burdens of others with such grace that I am in awe of him every day (ugh…I said I wasn’t going to gush. But he’s just so great!)
Yesterday, was one of those days where I came home from work and errands and just wanted to collapse in the clean and quiet house that I had left in the morning…but that wasn’t going to happen easily. I wanted to throw up my hands and run far, far away from everything not 5 minutes after walking into the chaos. Not an option. So instead, I poured a glass of wine and cooked dinner. And that’s where the miracles start. Dinner brought people to our table and the meal I was planning for Matt and I turned into a dinner for 5 (thankfully with just enough food). And though it still wasn’t a traditional family dinner, I could feel the love surrounding me, even in my tired and broken state. I saw the face of Christ through the haze of my frustration and my ache for normal. “Normal” life, though, would have never given me that grace. I am blessed with the gift of an abnormal life and when I forget that, I have scripture to remind me to love and be joyful in my abnormality:
“Above all, let your love for another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:8-10
I have many gifts. And 5 of them happen to be living under our roof with us. So much for normal…and good riddance.