"Love everyone, do good to all, and trust a few."
The moment I read those words, I felt something unexplainable inside of me had been explained. Something foundational to my being, yet mysteriously elusive, had finally been identified.
By nature, that is how I approach relationships. There is a great urgency within me to ensure everyone I meet feels loved and that I act in goodness toward everyone regardless of their actions toward me. It doesn't mean I am always loving and good to people, but I feel great remorse when I am not.
Because that is my ideal. And it is how I believe the world works best.
Trust however? That takes time. And quite honestly I reserve that for only a few. Not trust in the sense that I question people's integrity so much (though I've seen enough to know it is best not to assume that either) as it is my trust that you are capable of valuing my often concealed thoughts and opinions and feelings. Though I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, my deeper feelings are usually quite carefully guarded. I'm not waiting to make sure you agree with me, only that you will hear me, understand me, appreciate me, regardless of our differences.
And that, in turn, is what I offer you. I believe that is part of what it means to "love everyone." But I'm also not ignorant enough to believe that everyone else approaches life this way. And so I withhold not my love and kindness but...my trust.
I know I'm not the only one who approaches relationships this way. It's why we have different kinds of friends. We love all our friends deeply, don't we? But we wouldn't feel free to go to all of them when we feel vulnerable. There are only a few we reach out to during those times.
How many of your friends would you want as neighbors? And by that I mean the old fashioned kind of neighbor where your homes are always open to each other (and each other's children). Where there are no calls before visits. Where you raid each other's pantries for needed items and make meals together when cooking feels too hard. Where you yell from porch to porch rather than texting.
Many people haven't a clue what it's like to live this way. For some people it sounds like a nightmare. Others idealize it. I've lived it (in Uganda), and it definitely has its pros and cons: You commit to partially raising another woman's children and allowing your children to be partially raised by her. You commit to valuing her need to vent about a rough day over a chance for some alone time. You accept that another family's values and beliefs and personalities and strengths and weaknesses will influence your family. All of these things can be pros or cons, but mostly they're both.
But when you're living it with people you love and trust, it's worth it. And amazing. And you won't ever want to go back to living a solitary independent life. And if you have to (go back), it will be one of the hardest transitions of your life. Perhaps the hardest.
Believe me. I know.
We left that life, and I miss it every single day. It has caused me many adult meltdowns in fact. And then I feel weak, because how is it that everyone else in America seems to do just fine without it?
How do you all do it?!
I hope we haven't given up living in community for forever. If we have, I don't want to know; because at least I have hope to keep me afloat right now. But again, I'm not naive to community life. I would never choose it just for the sake of community life. Because it is not easy even with people you love. It has to be with people you trust.
This is a really long introduction to this family Real Life session isn't it?! Shoot. Well, now you're probably wondering what in the world all this has to do with a family session.
This family? We weren't neighbors in Uganda. We haven't lived life together in the sense of community living. But I would love to. This family? I trust them. And I'd trust them with my children. And I love their children. And I'd totally do life with them.
It would mean I'd have to commit to partially raising 6 more children. It would mean I'd have to say yes to a few DIY projects (I'm more of a DIFM girl...you know...Do It For Me?), because she's like the queen of that world. It would also mean I'd probably take up making homemade tortillas again and sweeping my floor (because no doubt her do-er mentality would rub off on me a bit). I would have a place to spontaneously run when I became overwhelmed with the blessings and challenges of adoption, because did I mention that all six kids are adopted? And I definitely know she would drop her alone time to hear me vent. Um, I don't think she has alone time anyway.
The point is, in my dreams we are neighbors. Did you hear that, Friend? In my dreams we fill the counters with stacks of tortillas.
Now. On to the session.
I wrestled for a long time on how to tell their story. I photographed them one morning back in August, for goodness sake! But when their youngest's adoption was finalized in December, I knew I wanted to tell it through his perspective. Because he completes their family.
And that is a big deal.
To learn more about Real Life family sessions: HERE
AND...if you like handcrafted jewelry, you must check out my friend's Etsy shop. She's also on Facebook. Just look up Pearls N Joy!