“Emily, he is so solid. I think you guys would really get along.”
“You haven’t even met him yet. WE LOVE HIM. Give him a chance.”
“He is twenty-one. He has a child. He is a baby with a baby. Absolutely not.”
The above is an all too real conversation that ensued prior to my meeting my now husband. I was so not on board. Not even remotely. And yet I found myself engaged to a man with a five-year-old almost exactly a year from the day we met. We got married five months after that. It has been the most overwhelming experience of my life. How did I get here?
You see, I had grown up in a picturesque family. I’ve had forever married parents and three siblings. We all went to private school and stayed in the same church our entire lives. Everything was mostly calm. We had sibling squabbles, and I fought with my parents about my curfew. We were all doing great, thank you very much. I cannot stress enough how much I did not understand the concept of family drama. I led a sheltered existence, and I was one hundred percent okay with that. I planned on carrying on this tradition. I would get married, we would have children, and I would work hard to make sure that we were a freaking Norman Rockwell painting. That was the plan. It was my constant, it made sense, and I clung to it for dear life.
I truly believed with every ounce of my being that having a perfect family was the road to happiness. Don’t get me wrong, a strong family structure has plenty of benefits, many of which I’m reaping. But I made it an idol, the thing that would be the end-all-be-all. And nothing can live up to that standard. When you believe it can, it becomes devastating when it all crashes down.
The funny thing is, when we look at the Bible, we see families that are straight up crazy. If you look through the Old Testament alone, we see siblings casually murdering each other, babies born from maidservants, blatant favoritism. The list goes on and on. The families represented are a far cry from our nuclear ideal. Yet, these are the families God chooses to tell His stories.
And of course, the greatest redemption story of all time is told from a teenager pregnant out of wedlock and a non-biological father. Imagine that. The family that is used to tell The Story is a young, unwed teenage girl. It was good enough.
Lots of the days, our little family still feels jacked up. There are questions about priorities and jealousy. Insecurity rears its ugly head regularly. We struggle to get on the same page. I have that thought, the one that terrifies me, “What have I gotten myself into?” And on those days I find myself thinking, “God, what kind of story are you trying to tell here? Because this one frankly sucks.”
I’m sure Joseph felt the same way when his siblings betrayed him and sold him into slavery. “God, what kind of family is this? What is the point? What kind of story is this?”
I wonder if Sara felt the same way when Hagar became pregnant. “Lord, what are you doing? What kind of story is this?”
I’m sure Mary felt the same way. “What are people going to think? What kind of story is this?”
His favorite thing is to make beauty from ashes, to bring dead things to life, to use the weak to shame the strong. I didn’t want to become ashes, to die, or to become weak. I wanted to be the best on my own. I didn’t want to need redemption.
On my best days, I meditate on Esther, “Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” I feel empowered and ready to take on whatever curveball the story will throw at me. I hold on to hope; I believe that I am made for this.
On the other days, I feel exhausted and over it. I want things to be simpler. And on those days, the Great I AM reminds me, “This is good enough for Me. This is going to be a beautiful story.”
Lord have mercy, I hope I survive it.