Yesterday, as I was looking for photos of my little sister, I stumbled upon this photo of Mike and me when we were 18 years old.
I know, it's terrible quality. You have to remember that waaaaaay back then, we were lucky to have enough film in a camera to take even a few photos. I never took a whole roll at once so it remained in the camera, sometimes for months (years?). THEN, it was sent off to somewhere like Seattle Filmworks. Often, when that fat package returned with my prints, I had no idea what photos would be in there. Usually, few or none were of good quality but nearly all were saved as they were the best we had to remember the pictured event.
So, terrible quality or not, looking at this photo makes me happy. It was taken our senior year of high school. Mike and I had been dating for about a year at that time. This was taken in the living room of the Christian Church parsonage in Turner, MT... my high school home. The paintings on the wall were created by my mother. The photo on the wall is my older brother, who at that time lived so far away we rarely got to see him. Those striped chairs behind us had been reupholstered more than once by my talented mother. I made my own prom dress and added that shawl that was a gift from my Grandma. Mike looked especially cool in his blue polyester leisure suit. We already knew we loved each other but we knew very little of what our future would hold. Look at us, though. Don't we look pleased with ourselves? It was a happy night.
When I look at that photo, I clearly remember all the hope and excitement for the unknown future. I also remember being a bit nervous. There is often a lot of pressure on high school seniors to have some things figured out. How many times are seniors asked about their future plans... what path do they plan to follow? It's kind of crazy, huh?
The evening that photo was taken, I thought I'd likely go to college to learn sign language as I prepared to teach deaf students. As it turned out, that wasn't my path at all. When that photo was taken I'd not yet realized that I really, really needed to be a nurse. I didn't know anything about Mike's future as a pastor...absolutely no clue. I didn't know that we'd have a daughter and two sons that would become more important to us than almost anything. I didn't know Mike and I would someday live in the Seattle area, New Mexico, Wyoming and other places together. I most certainly did not even consider being grandparents together and loving two precious little girls so much our hearts almost explode. I had more happiness in my future than I was even able to imagine!
I also didn't know much about grief and loss. I didn't know what it would be like to be a young wife trying to help a 20 year old husband deal with the loss of his Dad while taking over the responsibility of a farm all on his own. I didn't know the anguish of miscarriage or the pain caused by learning someone I trusted was not trustworthy. I didn't know about days when I'd only see Mike for 10 minutes because he was so busy helping other people. I had a lot of challenges and sadness I'd not yet experienced. I didn't know what it was like to have children in the hospital. I had never worked so many hours straight that I was in tears by the time I went home. I didn't know what it was like to worry about household expenses, tuition, children in the hospital or any of those concerns of life. Even though all of those things eventually molded me into a stronger person, I'm glad I didn't have to know about them ahead of time.
When that photo was taken I didn't know that someday I'd carry around a tiny computer/camera (smartphone) that would give me instant photos and that'd I'd post them for the whole world to see. In fact, I didn't know that posts would be anything except something to hold up a fence. I am certain I could not have imagined the power of the internet. I thought I knew a lot back then, but there was so much more to come. There were so many changes to embrace/endure. There was so much adventure ahead!
Looking at the photo, though, I remember that I DID know that I was well-loved by my family, Mike and most importantly, by God. I trusted that my future was secure because of that. I still do. I still look forward to more adventures. I still feel blessed to have Mike by my side, just as I did in that photo. I still know that I am loved.