One of my best childhood friends is building a house with his wife. I was in their wedding just a few months after I got married 29+ years ago. Our families had been friends, and I got to know their oldest son when working on a musical I choreographed. I might not get to see them often, but I will always consider them good friends.
Because the house he grew up, where his dad still lives, is close to my childhood home, every now and then he sees my vehicle and stops to say hi. Recently, he did so on his way from his oldest son’s first child’s gender reveal. Our first granddaughters will be just a year apart in age. The generations continue.
He was heading to his new house I’d heard about but hadn’t seen, so my mom and I followed him south of town to the building site. As we turned off the highway, I marveled at the peaceful drive. We drove into the clearing and saw the shell of a home. He took us on a tour of the house and the property. Listening to their plans made me smile. I’m happy for them.
We’ve gone through some of the same seasons of life around the same times. He’s hit some bumps I haven’t hit, and I’ve hit some he hasn’t. There we stood – same age, same lifestage in some ways, same background in many ways. But he is building his rest-of-life home with the person he loves.
I am not. The house I thought my ex and I would live in for years ended up being a half-year home for me.
I’m sure my friends’ home-building process is stressful and expensive; it’s not perfect. They’re not perfect. But when I find myself in the situation where I am faced with what I’ve lost by having a life partner uncommit and walk away for something and someone else, I’m faced with a choice. I can consider what I’ve lost – which I often do even if only for a moment – or I can focus on what I have and what others I care for have. I can choose to be grateful.
I’m excited for my friends. I’m excited for their future. I know a new house or new member of their family won’t make their worlds perfect and will bring new challenges, but when people commit to facing those challenges together, I believe the other side is more beautiful.
I am grateful for that beauty – the beauty of seeing people face challenges and build their lives together, to heal and grow together. Even when it’s not my life, I appreciate the commitments of relationships other are pursuing. Perhaps knowing my life partner walked away from commitment makes my appreciation for those who are still doing the hard work even deeper. And appreciation always uproots bitterness.
Even when what’s right in front of me forces me to face some harsh realities of my life, I am thankful I can choose to appreciate what others have. They might not share my specific struggles, but they still struggle. Instead of comparing ourselves, we can express encouragement and gratitude for the next steps of our journeys, no matter how similar or different they are.