Not long after we married, a picture began to form. I saw the real challenges of our unexpected life meeting the real creativity of a kind God, and wondered if these stories were really just for us alone. Did others need to hear the hope and imagine the possibilities? Was there anyone else out there on their own unexpected journey looking for encouragement and a brighter way forward?

I became convinced that the answer was yes. But could it be done in a way that protected all the parties involved? The exes, the children, and everyone in between: this answer was unclear. So I began building and writing the blog privately, anonymously, to see what could be done. The children knew, but they were also very young. Ever-so-slowly I began curating our unexpected life onto the virtual page. I showed it only to a number of close friends, unsure of how or when it would ever be released into the open, but not wanting to forget the stories in the meantime.

Then the babies came, one after another, and the curating slowed. I breathed them in, my last little ones to nuzzle and nurse. I shelved the writing here, for a season or forever, I simply did not know.

But God did.

Recently the trip of a lifetime turned into the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was able to write a piece for my favorite publication, Darling Magazine. I love everything about them: what they say, how they say it, the culture they are creating. It was such an honor to contribute in any way to their voice. When the last edits were completed and they asked which url I’d like listed by my name and contribution, I knew the time had come. The blog would no longer be anonymous, the stories would no longer just be for us. But in that moment I also knew that I would not open that door without the full awareness and blessing of our children. Each and every one of them. Papa and I would tell them all about it, and they too, would have a voice. Just one veto from them would close the door. But we trusted that ultimately if God was behind this He would be the one to speak to their hearts, just as He had to ours.

When the day arrived, I scanned the room registering seven little pairs of eyes, and took a deep breath.

“Everyone here has been hurt deeply by divorce. We all know the pain, but we also know God, and have seen how He can bring goodness to anything. We each carry a story of hope, and hope is something so many people need that I want to share our story. I know we told you about the blog early on, but you are much older now, and the Darling article has given us an opportunity to begin to share our stories with others. We wanted to read to you some of what I’ve been writing, and give you time to respond. We care what you think, and how you feel about this.”

They nodded and stretched back into more comfortable positions. Gangly limbs sprawled out on rocking chairs, sofas, and carpet as I began reading their profiles out loud. The room overflowed with laughter and agreement,”Wow, that’s totally Wesley!” “Yes, Eliot still does that all the time!” and occasionally, “Can I have a different name..?”

The last character description was met with cheering, and encouragement, and praise. They loved hearing the story of Them. I continued by reading the most recent post.

It ended in a roomful of grinning faces, bubbling with excitement and cheering on the blog. But as my eyes scanned the room, I noticed one face obscured by a pillow. I sat beside him, lightly rubbing his back, “Are you ok?”

This broke the dam, and tears slipped across his cheek, pooling in the pillow ridge. No amount of prompting brought any words, there were only tears.

These moments break my mama-heart. Again. And threaten to dredge up all the hurt and offense that surely I’ve buried and forgiven a thousand times over by now. I am vigilant. I don’t let them emerge. But it takes muscle to stuff back the ‘What if’s’ and “How could they” and “Whys”.

As I continue rubbing his back, I look around to see that he is surrounded by quiet, loving stares. What is there to say? What is there to do? Even with a whole room full of people who would do anything for him in an instant.

One bonus-brother disappears into the bathroom and returns with Kleenex. After placing them in his hand, he sits at his brother’s feet and begins rubbing them.

The silent tears slow.

Another bonus-brother gets up from the floor and eases in next to the hurting one on the sofa. Without saying a word, he simply slides his arm around his shoulders, and stares silently off into the same direction. They sit there, the two of them, understanding.

The slow tears stop.

Wet cheeks are wiped dry. And the night continues on. We watch the movie we had planned, and the entire time, the boys remain connected. Comforted.

Even in the moments where the pain again rears its head, God’s supplies grace to remind me of the good. Grief is now divided and shared. Burdens are not carried alone. Hearts have been broken but hearts have also been put together. And God has indeed been doing what He promised; blending and growing, bringing unity and goodness.

Which is why when all was said and done, every single member of our family gave their blessing and green light for the telling of our story. The ones that cheered, the one that wept, and the one who pulled him close. They know and believe that even when life is unexpected and imperfect, the strawberries are remarkable, and worth sharing.

2 Responses to “Sharing the Burdens”

  1. erinceleste says:

    This post deeply touched me. The gift of presence and connection demonstrated so beautifully and unpretentiously in the hearts of young boys. God has truly done a wondrous work in the design of your family.

  2. TAD says:

    Thank you to you and your courageous family for the willingness to share your story. I feel blessed to be able to read and connect in what God has done and is doing in your life. I look forward to reading more posts.

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