It’s been a while. Over six months, to be exact. Nice writing to you again.
I’ve been on quite a journey this last year. A hard one, but a good one. A necessary one. Thus, the serious infrequency of my blog posts. (Or complete lack thereof, ha ha.) If you have been one of those faithful followers who receive these in your inbox, thanks for hanging in there with me. I can’t wait to share more of what’s been going on; I wonder if it might be just as life-changing for you, too.
But for now, this overdue post is being written for my sweet mama; a woman I deeply admire and look up to, who has had her fair share of struggles in life yet still shines like the best of them. She, like me, is what Brennan Manning would call, a ragamuffin: one of the “bedraggled, beat-up…burnt-out…wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together…”; one of the “inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is [often] falling off their cracker.”1 Knowing this about herself is probably why she resonated so much with something I wrote recently.
After posting this “something” on Facebook for my husband’s and my 21st anniversary about being just that, two people who still don’t have it all together and whose cheese falls off their crackers on a regular basis, Mom asked me to please write it as a blog post. I’ve been hesitant. I mean, why beat a dead horse? And yet, it’s Mom. She wins. :) But instead of merely reposting what I already wrote, I decided to take it a bit further.
The original post went like this:
I have been guilty of looking at other couples and being jealous. They did it “right” the first time; never knowing what it’s like to be married again. They birthed all of their kids together, every one of them theirs from the beginning. They seem to do everything perfectly, practice every spiritual discipline together, and almost always share the same ideals and thoughts on life.
And then, there’s us. We’ve waded through the seemingly insurmountable waters of being divorced and married again. We’ve weathered certain types of storms that only a blended family can bring. We are two strong souls that have differing opinions on almost everything; love languages that are just as opposite, and wear each other just plain thin at times.
But…we’ve pushed through, fought hard, held on, and continue to grow. Not only are we still here, all these twenty-one years later, but we are stronger, wiser, more resilient, more empathetic, and more in love than ever.
And I wonder. Which is more admirable? More commendable? The people who instinctively, naturally, or whateverably do life “right” most of the time – or the ones who don’t, but overcome anyway? Perhaps both. But I think you know how I feel.
Yes. Here’s to us! Me and my introvert honey, who will probably be way too shy to respond to this post.
But that’s okay. Here’s to the two of us; celebrating each other exactly as we are, admiring all that we’ve grown through, and looking forward to all that is ahead.
Happy, happy anniversary to us!!
It was, indeed, a very happy anniversary for us.
That said, I have to interject here and say that I do deeply admire those who haven’t screwed-up quite as much as I have. (Okay, not even half as much as I have.) I think it’s commendable to have only been married once, to not have dragged your kids and step-kids through the ringer of your dysfunction, to have never been drunk, to have been way more selfless than selfish during the first half of your adult life, to have never been addicted to sugar, or drugs, or alcohol, or relationships, or anything…I could go on and on. I applaud you. I have wished, many a time, that I was you!
At the same time, something about that Facebook post resonated with a lot of other people besides Mom, as well; people who dropped me a word, stopped me at church, or called me up. Perhaps they are people who, like Mom and I, don’t have the best track record and have walked around for years feeling less-than because of their past. Or their present. People who have struggled hard, even still do, and look up longingly to those less-messy others. People who think their lives are nothing much to shout about because they keep falling short.
I beg to differ.
In coming out of the journey I’ve been on this last year, I am gaining a much different perspective on many things. And I, for one, can’t think of any better person to celebrate than the one who is completely screwed-up yet honest, introspective, hardworking, tenacious, vulnerable, enduring, willing, open, determined, and growing. (Feel free to add to my list.)
I mean, it is natural to look to the one who is well put-together and want to be like them. It’s even natural to esteem those who have come from unfortunate circumstances and have taken a different path and turned lemons into lemonade.
But…those ones who seem to make messes everywhere they turn? And then clean up a bit, only to make one more mess on their road to wholeness? At worst, we shake our proverbial fingers at them. At best, we ignore them. We certainly don’t look for qualities in them that we want to emulate.
This was the thinking behind my Facebook post: celebrating the ragamuffin. The scandalous. The unworthy. In all of their messy glory.
Because the truth is, they are the ones who have cultivated deep life lessons that we would be stupid-silly not to glean from. For they are people who have strength, compassion, and wisdom that has not been book-learned but life-earned. These are some people who fight hard, discover much, and are worth looking up to!
So. This blog post is really rather simple. This one’s for the underdog. Let’s give a shout-out to all the ragamuffins, shall we?
Here’s to the people pleaser who is learning to embrace conflict.
Here’s to the single parent, who has made a boat-load of mistakes, but is doing her best to raise amazing adults anyway.
Here’s to the prideful who are willing to swallow that pill and seek out humility.
Here’s to the one who has used any sort of addiction to help them get through life and has the guts to call it what it is.
Here’s to those who have struggled with vanity and limit their selfies now.
Here’s to the powerful who is willing to let go of control.
Here’s to the one who can be critical of others but is learning to embrace imperfection.
Here’s to the one who desperately wants the approval of many but is learning how to let others shine.
Here’s to the one who has been married more than once but still works hard to get it right.
Here’s to the angry one who is learning how to use it for good.
Here’s to the know-it-all who is realizing he still has much to learn.
Here’s to the taker who is learning how to give.
Here’s to the one who’s had a chip on their shoulder and finally acknowledges that it’s there.
Here’s to the defensive one who is finally letting down their guard.
Here’s to the skeptic who is learning how to trust.
Here’s to the one who sucks at managing money but wants to get it down.
Here’s to the fearful one who is forging ahead anyway.
Here’s to the perpetual victim who is beginning to see others in the world.
Here’s to the stubborn one who is learning how to yield.
Here’s to the one who struggles with their weight but tries again, and again, and again, and again.
Here’s to the selfish one who is learning how to put others first.
Here’s to the wayward soul who has wandered for years but refuses to stay lost.
Here is to all the imperfect, in-process ragamuffins that we have much to learn from and even more to look up to. If you know somebody that falls into one of these categories, tell them how proud you are of them and give them a shout-out. This one is for them.
Oh, no, wait. I forgot. This one is for us.
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1 Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2005), 14.