by Sarah Roney
We all wore whites and corals to a family wedding in the Flint Hills this past weekend. The winery overlooked neatly grown rows of grapes and miles of Midwestern fields while the early summer breeze kept us cool under the hot sun. We met some relatives for the very first time, caught up with those who drove or flew in from all over the country, and took more pictures than was reasonable for a four hour celebration. We drank wine in glass tumblers engraved with the bride and groom’s names, and watched the children play chase up and down the rocky, rolling hills. It was the perfect way to start the summer.
But as I sat nursing our newborn on an outdoor bench, I realized I was a little tired of all that smiling. In their kindness they all rocked our new baby and talked continually about God’s goodness to our new family of eight. Many of the conversations ended with the refrain “yes, they are such blessings,” or “I agree, God has been so good to us.” All of these sentiments were entirely true and it was sweet to be reminded of the many answered prayers it took to bring our family together. But like all treasured family gatherings, the conversations were short and the interruptions were many. I shared the highlights of this past year without having the time (or the courage) to discuss how hard the year has actually been.
Then an older gentleman approached, whom I had never met. He was an old friend of the bride’s father, had just finished talking to my husband, and now wanted to say hello to me. And instead of the small talk that usually comes with meeting someone for the first time, he looked into my eyes and simply said “I know how hard it is. We raised two children with RAD, ADD and ADHD.” Suddenly I found myself exhaling deeply for the first time that evening.
And this is why we need each other. Why we need to say “me too” to one another and know that we deeply understand how achingly hard the journey is with our children. While it is life giving to be with family and friends who celebrate what God has done and honor where our children have come from, it is healing to be with those who can connect with us on a deeper level of understanding because they have journeyed through the same dark valleys we have.
”Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4). We enter into the journey knowing God is with us, and we continue in the journey knowing that there is a community of believers who walk next to us. We whisper “I know” to one another and are strengthened for the next few steps. We gather together for a meal and find ourselves breathing deeply for the first time in a month. We look into each other’s eyes to say “me too,” and suddenly feel more understood and less crazy. Where we once thought there was no one, our eyes adjust enough to the darkness to see the others traveling next to us. Slowly, but assuredly, our “me-toos” give each other the hope and support we need to journey further through the same dark valley than we ever could have on our own.