It’s no secret that I’m vertically challenged. Condensed awesomeness? Fun-sized? Yeah. I’ve heard ’em all. Being short means that I forget to clean the top of the refrigerator, and that the back of all of my pants drag on the floor. Being little also means that I have a hard time keeping up with just about everyone when we walk together, and that I became the favorite measuring stick against which all of my own children and, well, every child I’ve ever known has measured themselves to show their newfound pubescent height. “Oh, look! We’re taller than Alison!” I don’t bother to tell them that getting taller than me wasn’t exactly a great accomplishment. Go ahead. Use me. I can make just about anybody feel tall.
Being small also makes people think I’m younger than I am. I can’t even begin to tell you the people I’ve left with their jaws on the floor when they are told that my children are not my siblings, but my offspring. Until these sparkly hairs conquer and take over my entire head, I think I’ll just always look like some strange, sorta-wrinkly kid.
I don’t mind, really. It’s pretty funny and amusing. Until someone doesn’t take me seriously. “Ohhhh…you’re the MOTHER of the bride!?” And THEN, they decide to treat me like I’m the one writing the check.
Recently, we toured a house that we would like to make our home. The folks currently residing there have 18 grandchildren and the accoutrements of said grandchildren are evidenced everywhere. Giant teddy bears and strollers and playground equipment built lovingly by a grandpa abound at this house. A picture wall was full of smiling school pictures and families posing. In the center was a wedding picture that grabbed my heart in two seconds flat. No cheesy grins, no Pinterest posing here. In sepia tones, two people age twenty-ish stared deeply into each other’s eyes. She with a lacy veil straight from the sixties and he, replete with full, thick sideburns. With foreheads touching and the two of them in mid-conversation, they looked like they didn’t even know a camera was nearby. And they looked smitten. Lost in each other.
Now, all of these years later, she has scary, smiling dolls posing on built-in dining rooms shelves, and he some health problems, and they find themselves down-sizing.
I found myself wondering what those two would tell the younger, newlywed version of themselves if they were able to go back and give them advice.
As we drove a full day back to our current home in deepest thought, contemplating our upcoming decisions regarding uprooting our family to replant roots far from here, I thought about bright-eyed, preciously ignorant Christian and Alison from over twenty years ago and wondered what advice I’d want to give them. Knowing now what they didn’t know then, I think I would just want to reassure them that everything was going to be okay. Seeing the storms yet ahead on their horizon, I would want them to settle deeply into the comfort that they would be held, throughout. I would encourage them to run to each other first and stay in that safe place of hands joined, hearts united, and spirits tuned in to their Creator. I would tell them that though there were rough patches, even with their precious children, that the love poured out would return and overflow in just a matter of time. Every single bit of love was worth it–even, and especially, when it was hardest to show.
Through the lean years (and boy, were there lean years) when we stared at each other wondering if we could even make it, to the career changes, to the house buying and selling and building, and now to the dreaming and planning for our future, we have trusted One. And He has been so very faithful.
So, now, as we pack up a lifetime of local memories and look ahead to what is unfamiliar and a bit daunting, I hear old, creaky-boned Alison telling forty year old me that these new sparkly hairs, these new softer areas in my middle, these worries about what tomorrow looks like…none of these things will matter when all is said and done.
Someday, when my grown children kiss my wrinkled cheek and tuck my blanket around me and it is their turn to make me food that I like, I want them to be thankful for my presence. I want for their stories of me to ring of laughs and silliness, of adventures and fun–of a consistently safe place in these tired arms.
This perspective, it’s reminding me today to face my future bravely and with my chin up. These are the good days. These are the good decisions that will make a way, clear a path, for those who come behind to be brave and face as well.
It’s how we will have measured our growth.