faith

Oh, I See

Have you ever had one of those moments when the skies parted and you felt like, just for a second, you could see a bigger picture?

Or maybe the opposite is true for you, do you have a tendency, like I do, to overfocus on some things because they seem like the main thing or because they are either hard, scary, endless or frustrating?

We just celebrated the wedding weekend of our younger son Graham and his fiancé, Kate. We’ve been planning it well over a year and at different times I focused on what I would wear, how I would look, where we would stay, what we would eat and all manner of details about the wedding weekend. I worried, wrote and wondered about the mom-son dance. Our Ryan side of the family is a little hard-headed and we all had different ideas about the best dates for the event and all the ways the many generations and family friends would gather and all the dynamics about it all.

Meanwhile, in that same planning year, we each had our own individual challenges, life- changing events, heartaches, triumphs and changes.

I saw something during the wedding weekend that helped me with everything. The skies parted (literally, because we dodged two storms in two nights that left us with cool and gorgeous evening weather) but also figuratively. It took me days to articulate what I “saw” and even when I tried to say it, I cried.

It seemed like we were celebrating Kate and Graham’s love story and we were. But it was so much more than that. It was a celebration of both of their parents’ love stories too. It was the celebration of the love stories of generations. We had four generations on both sides of our family gathered there but it wasn’t just the love they started, it was what the family members before them started, endured and worked through to create futures for their families. I could feel the love and goodwill of our relatives who are no longer even physically with us. It wasn’t just one love story. This was thousands of individual stories all under the heading of God’s big love story for us.

It was a friendship love story too. We all had people in the room who we’ve been friends with for decades, some were there at our wedding, and some came alongside us later and helped us parent our kids so we could give back to our community, schools and churches we served. We saw Graham and Kate surrounded by friends we pray they will have for decades too.

Everyone seemed so genuinely happy because we realize these days how sweet it is to just have something good and joyful to celebrate. We take it less for granted now the gift that each day really is.

I’ve been focused before on the skirmish or diagnosis of the day. I’ve become obsessed from time to time with trials at work, home, relatives or someone’s drama. This wedding weekend was a giant zoom out and I suddenly saw that life is a bigger love story. It starts with God’s love, mercy and grace when we do not deserve it and then it becomes layer after layer of other kinds of love stories generation after generation, year after year.

I said to my husband, “Do you realize that some of what we’ve focused on recently is not even a chapter in this story? It is probably only a line or a paragraph at most.” In and around that wedding weekend were other stories, other items for both families that have caused heartache and angst but against the bigger backdrop seemed small, just tiny blips of the radar of this big, generational love story.

Thank God for the big picture, the promises of love amidst all our differences, the zoom out, the whole multi-layered, generational and the deep, rich, detailed love stories of our lives.

Graham and Kate drove away from their wedding celebration driving a restored 1966 Chevy pick-up truck owned by a man they’d never met, R.Q. Ryan, Graham’s great-great grandfather. It took a while for them to get going because Graham doesn’t usually drive a stick shift. All the groomsmen were yelling funny taunts. He went backwards for some reason and then finally forwards as they took off toward their new life and all the light from our sparklers faded away. They left alone except for the generations of love that rode with them into the night.

Thank you, God, for inviting us into this bigger-than-us love story. “I will show steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love me.” (Exodus 20:5-6 NIV)

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. To read more blogs, see her upcoming speaking events or to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly emails, go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com. Wedding photo courtesy of Jesica Clay Photography.

5 thoughts on “Oh, I See”

  1. What a truly beautiful description of this special weekend! I can almost
    envision being there sharing in the joy. Two very special young people
    sharing the love of many generations. Even driving off in a special
    family piece! Thanks for sharing your feeling with us – now we wait to
    see more pictures!

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