Jaime and I were self-described “quote nerds.” The words from those who had faced so much “life” were a continuous source of encouragement and discussion in our home. Oh, how I miss those late night discussions!
Jaime and I both brought to our marriage emotional baggage that could have very well brought our marriage to its knees. However, by the grace of God, and because we talked through everything, we were able to find joy and hope in some of the most difficult moments. This act was something we privately called, “living beyond the commas.”
And, don’t get me wrong there were enough “commas” to go around!
“Jaime, the girl with the eye,…”
“James, the boy with a difficult childhood,…”
“Jaime, the young woman with a rare and aggressive cancer,…”
“Jaime and James, the young couple going bankrupt because of cancer,…”
“James, the widower,…” And on and on it could go.
There are some who want to live their life within the commas, focusing on those things that temporarily define them. Jaime and I learned together, however, that there was and is life beyond the descriptors of society. This is why “Jaime, the girl with the eye,” stared down criticism & whispering and became an accomplished dancer, beloved teacher, and recognized leader by so many (including executives at Walt Disney World). “Jaime, the young woman with a rare and aggressive cancer,” made the decision to put self-pity aside and inspire her doctors, her fellow cancer patients, an entire community, and countless others around the world with her words and her daily choice to live even as she prepared to die.
“James, the widower,” is not happy and at peace because he is a father, a principal, or because life has somewhat calmed down. While there is no greater joy than to be a parent, to enjoy your calling, and to be grateful for a break in the storms of life, I refuse to allow my happiness to be defined by yet another temporary descriptor. My faith in God and in knowing He loves me in spite of who I am is what gives me hope and strength each day. I am thankful for the truth of the past – even the painful moments. I accept the present for what it is and do not wish to spend my time complaining about what I wish it had been. And I eagerly anticipate the future and a life well-lived…beyond the commas.