This is My Story

A few months back I got a text message that said, “I knew you’d be happy for me and would want to know.” Attached was a picture of my dear childhood friend Joni’s hand. On it was an engagement ring. I was happy. I was so, so very happy for her.
When the invitation for the wedding arrived in the mail, however, I came up with a thousand and two reasons why I couldn’t go. It was going to be in October, which is a very busy month with Shelby’s birthday and with Halloween. I had a lot going on at work. Chuck’s mom was coming to visit us the week before and my dad had scheduled a visit the week after. It would cost a fortune. I needed to lose weight. The sky had clouds in it. You get the drift. I was working a list. The biggest excuse I had though, and really the only one that was even close to being legitimate, was that I wasn’t sure I had the energy to face my home town.
I left Marion, IL 15 years ago because I needed a fresh start. My family had disintegrated, my childhood home was now being lived in by someone else, my mom had committed suicide, and I had already failed at my career. I was 20.
Chuck and I left and came to Texas and I’d only gone back once, and that was for our ten year class reunion. I was post-partum with Seth then and Shelby was not even two years old. I was a mess already and seeing old friends and old haunts did a number on me. I didn’t think I could go back and do that all over again.
But after much prayer and even more convincing from Chuck, I sent the RSVP, asked for the prime rib, and we packed our bags.
My words cannot even begin to express the blessing that this weekend was for me. We spent time with people we love and who love us back just as much, if not more. We drove around and saw how time had changed the town of my youth and we rested. This weekend was so very restful. The wedding was amazing and I’m so glad that Joni has found the love of her life.
The last time I went to Marion it felt raw and heavy and I left feeling no need to ever return. This time I allowed my town and my friends to envelope me with with so much love that it was like a warm, soft quilt. I haven’t laughed so much or so hard in ages and my heart is swollen with joy.
On my way to work this morning I was thinking about this post and what words I would use to describe how I’m processing the weekend. This song came on the radio and tears began to flow freely down my cheeks. Marion may not be the hub of my universe anymore but it is part of my story. The people and the places there helped to form the woman I am today. God has done many miracles in and around the relationships and situations that came from there and thankfully, he continues a great work in me today.

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