One of the best, most magical parts of summer is when the fireflies come out. As a little girl visiting my grandparents in the piney woods of East Texas, I would stand beneath the weeping willow tree in the backyard with my sister and cousins forever holding my breath and waiting to see them glow. My mom helped us poke holes in a baby food jar lid so that we could capture some to keep as pets. The next morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I would cradle the jar on the nightstand. They usually hadn’t survived the night, so I waited for dusk to catch a new batch. I loved them so.
They still hold some magic for me. When I was in college, a friend introduced me to the lovely, mellow music of Mason Jennings. He has a song with these lyrics…
And honey I’m sure
That you’ve been in love before
Plenty of men have held high places in your eyes
And jealousy has got no use for me
The past is beautiful
Like the darkness between the fireflies
I saw my first fireflies of the season last week, and I’ve had this song in my head ever since. What an image, isn’t it? A dear friend of mine is getting married to someone she met while working as a missionary overseas. In some ways, thinking about their situation and impending intercultural marriage has really taken me back to the past…the early months of my relationship with Bryan. I emailed her recently about something entirely different and found myself writing about our joys and struggles during that beginning phase.
The fact that we need plane tickets and a passport to travel from one of our families to the other is something that will always be a challenge for us, and we’re constantly trying to balance and reevaluate (especially me). I want to make sure that he never resents the choice he made. People often say to my husband, “Wow, I don’t know how you handle being so far from your family and friends…” or “You moved from Costa Rica to Texas?! Why? It’s so beautiful there!” (only causing me to further despise small talk). I try to keep my cool on the surface, but those comments really sting. He moved here to be with me. We Skype with his family at least once a week and see them as often as possible, but we still miss them so much. And, yes, he misses the natural beauty of his homeland, too, but there are plenty of things he loves about Texas.
I told my friend that if her fiance ever wants to talk someone who fell in love with an American and moved to Texas, I know Bryan would be happy to listen, empathize and be a source of encouragement. I wrote that I think intercultural marriages can end up being strong in a unique way. There are things that we are hypersensitive to that couples from the same country might take for granted. We work on our communication constantly because of our cultural and language differences. [For example, when he looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask about our plans for the following month, we talk through our different cultural perspectives on making plans. :)] It’s affirming, too, that we have made sacrifices in order to be together. Knowing that we chose each other even though it wasn’t the easiest road really gives us confidence in our relationship. We believe that God brought us together and it’s SO worth the sacrifices and inconveniences.
When I look back on what we’ve come through in order to be together—our first Valentine’s Day via Skype; countless hours of studying for Bryan in his second language; financial hardship; being separated from family; waiting and trusting that God would provide a student visa and, later, a green card; my frustration with not being able to communicate well enough in Spanish to really get to know my husband’s family and friends; so many misunderstandings and moments of confusion or frustration due to cultural differences…God has brought us through all of it. We all can relate to the idea in the song, I think. The darkness brings us to a place of light. We have been through darkness that makes us stronger and more grateful. So, wherever you are this morning, friends, (literally and figuratively), please be encouraged. Here’s hoping we see more fireflies before the summer’s end.