Meeting the Families

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“Athletic” is not a word I would use to describe myself. Ridiculously attractive and outrageously brilliant? Naturally. But athletic? Not so much. 

When Seth and I played Ultimate Frisbee with some friends a couple of months ago, my first two throws hooked far right and into the parking lot rather than into his wide-open hands. I quickly relegated myself to guarding the purses on a nearby picnic table.

And when I met Seth’s family for the first time on the Fourth of July, I was horrified to discover that their family pool party included tossing around a volleyball. The first time the ball came my way, I jabbed out an arm, inwardly cheering when I felt my hand make contact. Maybe there’s some athletic ability in me, after all!

Unfortunately, my cheering was short-lived when I realized that the spiked volleyball had flown directly into the face of an 18-month-old girl playing in the shallow end of the pool with her mother. The silence around the pool party was instantaneous, broken only by the sound of the little girl’s crying and Seth’s jovial quip, “It’s only a game, Focker!”

A few weeks later when Seth and I joined my older brother and his wife for dinner, Seth knocked a full glass of red wine off the table, shattering glass in every direction and spilling wine across the floor.

A couple of weeks ago when I accompanied Seth, his sister and his two nephews to a water park, Seth insisted that he and I go on the scariest water slide possible: a body slide so steep that you stand upright at the top, and the floor drops out from under you. 

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I am not an adrenaline junkie, and I also happen to be afraid of heights, so going on this body slide sounded about as fun as playing leapfrog with unicorns, but Seth really wanted to go, so we did. I managed to play it cool until the very last instant. When the floor opened up from under me, I instinctively shot out my arms and legs like a starfish, trying to hold myself up rather than plummeting to the depths below. I was unsuccessful in holding myself up, but I was successful in earning myself some serious ribbing from Seth once I made it to the bottom.

Our cumulative time with one other’s families has been a comedy of errors, but fortunately, everyone’s had a great sense of humor about it all. When it comes to dating, my mom has always reminded me, “Aurora, you don’t just marry the person. You marry the family.” I am so thankful for how welcoming and fun-loving Seth’s family has been – and similarly, how well my family has received Seth.

After an evening of smoking cigars with Seth, my older brother gave his approval, and after a night of talking pyrotechnics together, my younger brother declared that Seth is his favorite of any guy I’ve ever brought home. Seth concurred that he could really see himself spending quality time with my brothers.

I recently asked Seth what his sister thought of me after our day together at the water park. Apparently she said, “I like Aurora. And I like her for you – I think she’s good for you. But I’m not letting myself get attached until you put a ring on it.”

Smart woman! I’d be wise to do the same. 😉

Authentically Aurora

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Wise and Fun: Not Mutually Exclusive

Zooey_Wise and FunYesterday a friend made a comment to me that absolutely revolutionized the way I think about myself. She pulled me into a conference room because she needed someone to talk through a difficult situation with her. After a hug, some tears and a few distractions (namely regaling her with stories of my love life), she smiled at me and said I was the one she wanted to talk to because “I knew you’d make me laugh.”

I was shocked. My friend didn’t know it at the time, but her statement was a zinger, straight to my heart. But a good zinger. She thought I would make her laugh? She thinks I’m funny? And that’s why I was the one she sought out to comfort her?

My whole life, I have been the one friends come to when they needed a good listener. Throughout grade school and into adult life, I have heard countless stories about young girls’ insecurities, college kids’ fears of the future, ramifications of parents’ divorces, breakup heartaches, anxiety over major life decisions and struggles with suicidal thoughts.

I like hearing people’s stories, even the hard parts – especially the hard parts, because that is where much of life is lived, and it is in the painful seasons of life that we learn the most about who we are, what we value and what really matters in this life. The dark nights of the soul are when our perspective is reset and our priorities are righted. I love being a part of that process because it is when I sense God the most. I am nearest to Him in the valleys of life, whether they are my own or someone else’s.

Zooey seriousI always thought people were drawn to me in those times because they know I’ve lived it; I know the valleys of life, and I can relate to depressive thoughts. I thought people came to me because I am authentic and approachable; I am a good listener. I figured my presence was sought out because I am wise and serious and dependable; stable and grounded and not afraid of the weightiness of heavy situations.

So my friend’s comment to me, startling as it was, reminded me of a statement Bryan made to me recently: “You bring so much to the table. You have so much to offer the world… but it’s not the things you think. The things that are really your strengths are not the things you think of as your strengths.”

Zooey funnyCould it be that people come to me because I’m funny? I put them at ease; distract them; make them laugh? I don’t think of myself as funny. Or even very fun. But I want to be; I’ve always wanted to be “the fun one”. In fact, one of my greatest insecurities has always been that I’m too serious and melancholy. Yes, I’m intelligent and wise beyond my years, but oh how I have longed to be the bubbly, happy-go-lucky, sunshiny, fun girl.

What would it look like if I started to believe that I AM that girl?

People at church think I’m a social butterfly. Dad says I’m a great storyteller. Mom frequently laughs so hard that she cries when she talks to me on the phone. My best friend Ashley tells me all the time that I’m hilarious. This colleague wanted to talk to me about her difficult situation because she knew I’d make her laugh. And I did.

I’ve always known that I can be fun (and funny) at times, but I don’t think of myself as a fun person. My self identity – the narrative I tell myself about who I am – is that I am the serious, melancholy artist and misunderstood genius. And I don’t know why that is. Because I am an infathomably complex young woman with more facets than even I realize.

I AM the fun-loving, adventurous, hilarious friend with a zeal for life. And I hope 2015 is the year that I own that fact.

Authentically Aurora