Hospitality in Friendship :: Carrying the Burden

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If you know me, you know I believe hospitality extends far beyond the table. It's a posture and lifestyle -- the intention we make to show up, lean in, and offer full presence in the places we dwell. It's the effort to love people fully and support them through hardships, disappointment, and pain.

A large part of "showing up" involves carrying each other's burdens. We hear this one a lot but I ache to know what it actually looks like in action. How do we put this into practice? And what does it feel like to others when we do?

In efforts to grow in this, I'm opening our space up to other voices. We can learn so much from each others stories.


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Meet Heather.

You can follow along with her story and heart more on instagram and her blog.

Heather and I went to High School together and reconnected a few years ago when she was living near my parents. She has an infectious smile & beautiful singing voice. She is a friend, sister, daughter & mother. Heather writes honestly about the power of community in walking through a divorce and the resiliency of the human spirit. I've been so inspired by her story and the ways her people have rallied around her. I couldn't help but ask if she'd offer a few words right here for us.

Lucky for us, she said yes.


what does "Carry each other's burdens" mean to you?

Prayer and practicality. The two p’s.

If we do not spend time in the quiet, praying for others we are only a show. Prayer is an opportunity to truly bear a burden -- your own personal time, time you could spend however you choose, but you choose to spend it sending God’s will and love another person’s way.

Practicality. Give what they need. Isolate a specific area of need and provide.

what does it look & feel like in action?

The two P’s in action: I wouldn't be where I am if my girls had not prayed into what was best for me. When they heard my husband had left me, that I was looking for a new place to live, they gathered and prayed that I would enter into the community that would become my new family.

They knew, what I believe was the holy spirit in them, that I needed a village, and that's what they were. I just so happened, without any knowledge of their prayers, to move into the very neighborhood they were praying me into. They prayed for strength, I received it. They prayed for opportunity, it was given. They prayed for vulnerability, it was birthed.

I was tethered, they had a hold on me and without them I fear I would have been lost.

The second more practical piece is an action. They took action in my life. They saw a need and they delivered. I would hand them my work schedule and between them, they would figure out who was watching my children on which days. I didn't have enough in me to take care of this technicality, so they saw to it. When I was empty, they filled a space that allowed me the freedom to just be. To rest. They were my anchor. When the waves of grief and pain attempted to sink my spirit, they held on with such veracity. The grief was no match for their immense strength. I was tethered, they had a hold on me and without them I fear I would have been lost.

I would hand them my work schedule and between them, they would figure out who was watching my children on which days. I didn’t have enough in me to take care of this technicality, so they saw to it.

What did you find most kind?

Saying you are not alone and not letting someone BE alone, are two very different things. I don't mean that my people were with me every single second of the day, but when I needed them, they were there. Plain and simple.

has your view of“carry each other's burdens” changed or stayed the same?

It is an honor to carry a burden with someone. There is trust there. Trust is invaluable. It does not come easily. When I made the choice to trust the women in my life to love me, I let go of responsibility to please them. It was authentic. It was real. Authenticity is the sweetest aroma. It attracts people, even when it’s sadness, it draws people in because we all know what that smells like. You are like me and I am like you will never push people away.

This is the exact relationship the Father longs to have with us. When we are mad He wants us to tell him. When we are overwhelmed, he wants us to ask for help. Its real, it’s honest, it’s us. Our hearts are way more important to God and to the people who love us than our circumstances. If our hearts are open, we give others and God the opportunity to have purpose. To do what we are meant to do. To carry things for each other.


I'm so grateful to Heather and her story. Let's leave her some love & encouragement below!

on conflict, marriage, & lentils

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I thought of writing a mushy post about Matt and lentils. Not to be confused with mushy lentils. And how I sort of knew I wanted to marry him when we made this recipe together. You learn a lot about each other while standing in the kitchen and making something with your hands.

It was in the way he helped me do something I enjoy that made me fall in love.

I’ll write about love and lentils one day but I want to share about a different word today. A reader asked me to write about conflict and I’ve hesitated for a few reasons.

One being, we are newbies at marriage. Three years offers some credibility because we’ve lived through some stuff but we have so much more to learn. I recognize that fully. I continually seek counsel from friends much older than I am -- married or not.

Two being, it’s not something I'm confident in or sure of most days, it’s an area of growth and somewhere I fall short.

When we first got married, conflict looked like me stewing on something for a while, writing about it, stewing on it some more, and finally bringing it up a few weeks later when a tiny thing triggered a massive explosion. I'd then list off all the things that happened in the past week or two that hurt my feelings as well.

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I've grown up a little here. I'm still a slow processor, I still don't know quite what I'm feeling and just why I feel it right in the moment. But something I offer now are words amidst the confusion. Often I'll say, "I'm upset. Something hurts and I don't know exactly what or why but I'm going to try and figure it out. Can you be patient with me as I work through it? In the meantime, I just need you to know I'm sad."

This has helped us.

I wrestle to offer here because there’s pressure to write once you've overcome, figured it all out, and can offer a meaningful takeaway. I can’t always give that. Life isn’t so simple. I know culture encourages quick, efficient, and fast but relationships aren’t an app we wait a few seconds to download.

Relationships are beautiful, messy, and layered. They are living, breathing, and evolving. And while culture might say -- do this and you’ll get that - I just don’t believe in writing another list for you to check off and manage.

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The world is noisy. We have plenty of advice coming our way. Sometimes the best thing we can do is lay it all down, grab the hand of the one we love, and just learn to laugh again.

Because I can take myself and life way too seriously. If I’m not careful, I can live in a perpetual state of worry and fear. Sometimes, I need a good face smush from my husband -- the kind where his nose ends up in the corner of my eye. Or an itty bitty flick on the nose reminds me that my inner critic is being too noisy.

Sometimes exhaling like a beluga whale does the trick too. Better when done together.

So today, right now, I’m just going to offer one thing I’ve seen lived out that has made conflict easier to sift through. It’s made us lay our fists down a little when emotions get high. We heard this on a podcast from Village Church, it was intended for the context of race relations. I learned so much from this talk.

The idea is quite simple. You probably already do this in relationship.

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Feeling to feeling. Fact to fact.

We’ve found so many of our disagreements stem from this place. At the root of it, we want to be seen, loved, and understood, right? We hear this one a lot. I hear it so often I forget what it actually means, until I actively put it into practice and then I remember.

If Matt says, “We feel distant” and I respond with, “What do you mean? We went on a date last Tuesday.”

I’m giving him fact when he offered feeling.

If I say, “It feels like I’m the only one doing chores around here” and he says, “I just unloaded the dishwasher yesterday. I’m the one who mows the lawn..”

The exact same scenario went down.

Even if it's true we went on a date and he unloaded the dishwasher -- we’ve picked to convince rather than connect. We’ve held tight to pride -- I’m right and you're wrong. We've missed the whole point.

Guys, I'm stubborn. This one is so hard for me.

Maybe he feels distant because we’ve been extremely busy and haven’t sat down and looked each other in the eyes. Maybe I haven't offered affection or words of affirmation --- his primary love languages. And maybe, deep down, I feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and just need someone to remind me that they appreciate the work I’m doing, that I’m doing an okay job.

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While these scenarios appear quite simple, I've seen and felt how resentment can build from many tiny, seemingly insignificant things. They build and stack on top of each other, until all the weight creates cracks in the foundation. And then the whole house starts to shake.

There is always something deeper beneath the surface. Feeling to feeling and fact to fact helps me find it. It helps me get out of the way to simply listen. I'm reminded to love the person in front of me, not despite our differences but because of them.

And when we remember the complexities of humans, the baggage we carry, the experiences that mold and form us, humility seems not merely right but kind. And I want to be more kind. Not only to Matt but to every person I cross paths with.

Because we each have hurt, we all say one thing and do the opposite. Not because we're bad people but because we're trying to figure this life thing out and maybe we're a little scared of how it'll all shake out. Maybe we've been dealt a bad hand or been forgotten from broken systems. At the root of it, I want to believe we're all doing the best we can with what we've got. Some days that comes easy and other days really hard.

My role isn't to judge or place blame, it's to look inward, check my own wild, beating heart and seek to understand. It's to love deep and wide, both the man in my home and my neighbor down the street. It's choosing forgiveness, we change unhealthy habits when others believe we can and choose to walk beside us as we grow.

Marriage is a safe place for me to practice how to be a better human. I think that's what I appreciate most. Thanks for sticking by me babe. You're an absolute gift. Happy three years!

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Photography :: Lauren Gay // Location :: Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery // Dress :: Church Street Bridal