Today’s Love Showed Up Post comes to us from blogger Heather Tenzeca, I hope you enjoy her gracious story of support and love. If you’re interested in contributing, getcha some more info below.
It was a few months before our wedding. Between my parents’ impending divorce, our own relationship struggles, and the stress of finding jobs for our after-college life, it wasn’t what I had pictured. In fact, I was so busy student teaching and applying for jobs that cake testing and dress fittings seemed overwhelming, and I outsourced many tasks to my mom.
And then there were the fears. Had the harshness that had crept into our relationship become too much? We fought a lot about silly things and about bigger things. And with every fight, I thought that things were falling totally apart. Should we actually be married? I felt a deep sense of certainty about marrying him, but we both brought a lot of our own baggage to a relationship that seemed so scarred. It wasn’t the perfect path to the altar I had pictured. Jealousy, stress, fears and our own family situations had taken their toll. Our relationship’s age often seemed less like the new beginnings of a rosy-cheeked baby and more like a rebellious teenager.
My second bridal shower was a warm day in May. It was hosted by friends of my mom–women who had played a crucial role in my own life too as Sunday School teachers, a mom of the children I babysat, moms of friends.
And as I walked into the home full of good food and smiling women, I thought, “What did I do to deserve this love and this support? Why were people so happy for us when things often seemed so dark–when we had seen the ugliness of each other and ourselves more clearly through our relationship already?” “How could people be so happy when the divorce rate was something like 50%?”
They gave their gifts extravagantly. I couldn’t believe the generosity given to two kids who might turn out to be irresponsible and not enough. But more importantly, they gave their support. They gave best wishes. I felt bolstered, all afloat in the love of a community–a community who had worked in my life up until this point and was gently pushing us forward.
On our wedding day, I distinctly remember standing at the altar and thinking, “I’ve messed up so much. So much.” But there were the faces–of our bridesmaids and groomsmen and family members and professors and friends all saying, “You can do this! This is good, and we believe in it. And you.”
Getting to the altar may be easier for some than it was for us, but marriage itself is hard work. And at some point most of us wonder whether we should and can make such a commitment. It takes the love of a community, their encouragement and stories and gifts and confidence to make it work.
I use their gifts every day–the silverware I put on the table, my most-used cookbook, our duvet cover. And behind those gifts, I see their faces and hear their own stories. I don’t deserve this. We aren’t the couple they might think. They don’t know our struggles and sins and the pain we’ve caused one another. They don’t know how often we’ve fought and argued.
But the fact is, it’s not that I don’t deserve this generosity because of the state of our relationship but because none of us can deserve love so freely given. Nothing I did made them love me, and nothing we did earned their support. But there it was.
When I think of love showing up, I see that undeserved, beautiful bridal shower foreshadowing an undeserved, beautiful marriage where love shows up time and time again. And I think of a baby shower–just about two years later–where many of those same women came again to give their gifts, love, and support and say again, “This is good,” giving me confidence to walk into the unknown and pointing to a God who gives even more abundantly than I could ask or imagine.
Heather Tencza is an English teacher turned mom who writes about faith, parenting, wellness, and life with her husband and son. She blogs at Pilgrim Sandals.
Interested in contributing to the Love Showed Up series? Send me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and let’s have a chat about it.
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