Three months after Nick and I got married, my long-time companion, Chaco (the lovable lab-mix) passed away from a stroke. When we went to the vet’s office to retrieve his ashes, we were greeted by the wonderful staff. The woman at the counter explained to us that the white box she provided had another box in it and, in that box, was a plastic bag with the ashes. My incredibly awkward reply, without thinking, was “my dad’s ashes came in a box like that.”
The woman behind the counter hid her eyes at my odd response. Nick looked at me like “Really?” and motioned for me to go sit down as he finished up. Feel free to laugh. It’s one of the many awkward moments that Nick and my friends and family (and you, eventually) have become accustomed to experiencing with me.
I believe we live lives that are divided into pieces. We share our true selves with very few people. Many of our relationships are like a game of hide-and-seek where sharing anything deep or real means losing.
When we live such guarded lives, we deprive God the opportunity to do something beautiful in our friendships and family relationships. It is only when we are vulnerable and share with one another that the depth of God’s love is made apparent. We can feel that love, God’s love, by sharing life with one another.
Not everyone is going to go around telling strangers about their dad’s ashes (hopefully). I do, however, hope that we learn to share our greatest desires, hopes, and even fears with others. Perhaps we’ll find, through the process of sharing, that someone else is afraid of living alone for the first time in 40 years. Perhaps we’ll find that someone else is also wondering about going back to school. Perhaps we’ll find that our experiences are at once uniquely our own and connected to others, even strangers, through God’s grace.