Loved Like This

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B_STEFLast weekend I spent an afternoon with some beloved women I’ve known my whole life—mothers and daughters that my family was lucky to grow up with. This bigger crew was made up of relatives (aunts, uncles and cousins) and friends who felt like family. As far back as I can remember, we did life together.

We weekended together. We kids played in backyards and basements while our parents visited (recalling the strains of laughter and Stevie Wonder coming from upstairs, I now get that the grown-ups were playing too). We’d hide or pretend to be asleep when it was time to go home, in the hopes that we’d get to have a sleepover. This never worked, and eventually our sleepy selves would be scooped up and buckled into the back seat to make the late-night trek home.

We vacationed together. Lake swims and tennis games, crib matches and marshmallow roasts. Ah, the sweet freedom of running from cabin to cabin, hot sand underfoot, stopping here for an icy Coke or there for a handful of chips. It didn’t matter whose doorstep (or picnic table) I landed upon, it was guaranteed that whoever greeted me had known me my whole life and loved me unconditionally.

As I sat with these women last weekend, I was struck by the beauty of our connection. They have shown me the value of friendship. They’ve met me on dance floors, shared recipes for some mean appies, and taught me not to sweat the small stuff. They’ve been strength in the face of adversity, disease and loss. They’ve made me laugh until I cried.

Things have changed over the years. Those group holidays are a thing of the past. Sometimes now our visiting happens when we gather at a celebration of life to mourn the loss of a loved one. But even if we only see each other once or twice a year, we still love like family. Our shared history and affection for one another are ties that bind us.

These women have been a beautiful constant in my life. They’ve been there for every stage of my journey. They’ve watched me grow up. There is something sacred about being known like this. Loved like this.

I like to believe this is how God loves us. Whether we show up in faith and on purpose, or scurry past unaware with tangled hair and sand-covered feet. Whether our hearts are grateful or broken. Not because we’ve been polite, or perfect, but simply because we’ve been known and adored—just as we are—right from the very beginning.

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Image credit: Carolynn Primeau

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