Monday, January 12, 2009

Northwest Reflections

I could write a ridiculously long timeline of all that we did this past week in the northwest, but that would be pretty boring. Let me instead reflect on some of the themes that sprang out of the week we spent with family and friends in the rainy states of Washington and Oregon. Some are incredibly self-evident and obvious; others have been new revelations that I'll keep pondering.

Good friends are worth keeping. There were a number of friends that we visited this past week, and every interaction with them was deeply refreshing. Andrea, Brian and Kristy, Scott and Stef, Jon and Meagan, we love them all. (I even coincidentally ran into a few friends in a coffee shop in Portland; Aaron, Josh and Michael, it was great to see them). These are people who know us intimately, whom we have experienced a great deal of life together, and whom we love dearly. Even though all of us are on different life paths and though we live thousands of miles apart, these are people that are worth keeping a relationship with. We're building lots of great new friendships here in Arizona, many of which we missed while we were gone. Basically, friends are awesome and isolation sucks.

Marriage is messy. The main reason we were in the northwest was for Amanda and Aaron's wedding. I was so honored to be the officiant, and it was one of most powerful spiritual moments for me to pronounce them as husband and wife. Yet the entire lead-up to the wedding was fairly hectic and a bit stressful (what wedding prep isn't?). Added to this were numerous conversations with friends about some of the tougher aspects of marriage. Katie and I had a conversation one afternoon about our own marriage, evaluating some of the aspects that were lacking and doing our best to be honest about some tough issues. It's messy. This is nothing new; I knew marriage would take hard work when I entered into that commitment. But sometimes the reality of the messiness can be heavy. You have to be honest about your faults. You see friends struggle with their own marriages. You even see outwardly healthy marriages fail, which can be so discouraging. But it's a beautiful mess and one worth spending a lifetime trying to figure out. This week I was reminded of how worth the mess Katie is. Also, her being the maid-of-honor meant I got to watch her walk down the aisle in a wedding again. :)

Culture affects paradigm. I am more and more convinced that where you live--and perhaps where you don't live--dramatically affects your worldview. This is true in both subtle and dramatic ways. For instance, having lived in Mesa for 1.5 years now means I'm used to driving on uber-wide roads at 75+ mph. I'm also used to having our city be enormous. So driving 55 mph on I-5 felt weird. What I used to consider an impossibly long driving distance--north Vancouver to east Portland--now feels like a quick drive down the street. My paradigm has changed about driving; it should be faster in Portland. :) It was hard to drive down narrow streets at 20 mph. On a deeper level, this is why I value change and travel so much. There are so many different ways to live, so many different values and ideas that our world has to offer, that it feels limiting to never travel outside of your own culture/paradigm. It's not that one culture is better or worse than another; it's just exciting to see the differences. I'm so thankful for the traveling experiences I've had, and Katie and I are committed to offering our children opportunities to experience different cultures, even those here in the United States.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip to see friends and family (though there were lots of friends we didn't get to see this trip! Don't worry, we'll be back up there for visits later this year!).

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