I stood in the make-up aisle, tossing things into my cart with abandon, long after I checked the 2 things off my list I actually came for. I lay in bed that night wondering, “What was that about?”
Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the answer. This weekend is the wedding. The one in my hometown. The one where the last of my high-school girlfriends will walk down the aisle. Of course I’ll go and cheer her on, because she’s amazing and I love her. And this is an important part of her story. I’ll laugh, I’ll dance… and you better believe I’ll eat cake! And when the party is over, when she climbs into the getaway car with her new husband, I’ll smile and wave from my new position as the last remaining representative of Singledom for our group of friends.
There’s a good chance at some point during the festivities, that some well-meaning person who just wants to help will pat me on the shoulder and say, “Oh don’t worry sweetie, you’re next.” Or, “You’ll meet the right person when you stop looking.”
And I’ll do my best to smile and not say out loud, “I know that’s the story you want to be true. But you can’t know if that’s actually how my story will turn out.”
So, what does one do to prepare for a day full of conflicting emotions and tricky questions? Well... if you’re me, apparently you buy a new dress, new jewelry, new shoes, and loads of new makeup. To try to convince yourself and everyone else, “I’m great! No really, I’m fine... I’ve got this.” Making sure of course that the mascara you purchased is waterproof, in case anybody happens to stick around long enough for you to run out of fake. In case someone leans close and tilts their head just right, letting you know they’re not fooled, and they’re ready to listen to the real story. If you’re ready to tell it.
And in that moment, as you reach for a kleenex, you will remember something you read after that break-up.
“I always say that I’m looking for a witness. Someone who will see me as I struggle and succeed, someone who will have a rough idea that I’m eating or whether I’m doing all right, someone who will notice. I don’t think there’s any accident in phrasing that we talk about “seeing someone” in relationships. This always tops my list of what I miss. I miss seeing someone, and being seen.” Cara Strickland.
And maybe in that moment, you will realize- this is what’s happening. Right now. Someone is seeing you, and you’re seeing them. Noticing. Asking questions. Bearing witness to the chapter of life that’s unfolding right now. The messy parts and the beautiful parts.
And maybe you’ll notice something else. It feels like love. Like home. Like God’s with-ness showing up right here in this person in front of you. In that moment you are choosing each other, and it feels like a reminder to both of you, “regardless of your relationship status, you are worthy of love and belonging.”
May we learn to see each other, and to believe that we are seen. Right here in the middle of our stories.