The Need to be Known

We sat in a circle, the porch lit up by a string of lights and the air around filled with youthful squeals and the unabashed laughter of little ones filled with delight. For three hours we sat and when we finally rose, my cheeks ached from the smile stretched wide.

It felt good to be known.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this move has been the feeling of having to put on airs. When you walk into a room full of strangers, the natural reaction is to put on a smile and those people aren’t going to know if my smile is fake or not because they don’t know me. It’s not their fault. It just takes time to get to know someone.

But this golden lit circle of people was not a group of strangers. They were family. My aunt and uncle and cousins. The people we vacationed with growing up. We’ve watched one another get married, rejoiced in babies born, mourned in loss.

There is just something comforting and familiar about family. Though I haven’t lived in the same state as my cousins since we were all in diapers, we still hold fast to the bond of family that seals us together. We know each other. We’ve traveled roads together that no one can understand. We experienced heartache and joy that binds us tight and holds us fast.

On the 21st anniversary of one of the deepest hurts our family experienced, we gathered. We didn’t plan the gathering on this specific day – it just happened. And we laughed and loved and relished in one another. Many were missing, and how I wished they all could have been there, but for Lee and I the meeting was perfect. We needed to laugh. We needed family.

Sitting with them late into the night, Lee and I didn’t have to pretend and my family didn’t expect a mediocre answer. When they asked how we were doing, we told them. This is hard. Moving is stressful in a lot of ways and the last six months have been the most trying of our entire married life.

It was cathartic to share – to be able to open up and be honest. The rest of the evening was spent laughing…hard.

Our kids ran around, screaming and shrieking, delighting in one another the way my cousins and I did when we were little. It was so good and so sweet to be known. Like walking through a fountain after traveling the desert. Refreshing and cool, Lee and I came home rejoicing.

And tonight, as two teams I didn’t care about played for a title that meant nothing to me (I just broke some hearts…I’m sorry), we talked and laughed with friends. New friends who, over the last few weeks, have allowed us to open our hearts and share and laugh and cry, and old friends who not only know us from back home, but who also know well the path we’re on right now.

They’re on it too.

I have asthma and on the days when breathing in is just a little more difficult, I always relish in that one moment when I’m finally able to fill my lungs fully. My head spins a little and the panic that has begun to well up dissolves as I can finally take a much needed deep breath and I can actually feel the oxygen circulating through my body.

This weekend was a deep breath. It was needed and we drew it in deep.

My head is still spinning a little.


  1. I love reading your posts, Kelli. I can relate so well to your feelings about your move! I have felt them too. How cool that you have good friends that have moved there as well and know what you are going through! St. Louis called T.R. in November, and we are going for T.R. to interview next week for a job at Wash-U. We didn’t seek it out, but are excited about the opportunity. I am scared to death! We are just praying that God will make what we need to do very clear because we are so comfortable here and would never really look for another job on our own. So, I might be feeling these feelings again soon, and I am nervous. It’s hard, but I know God has a plan for us! We are seeking HIm and (like I said before) praying He will make this VERY clear. 🙂 If it’s staying here, awesome! If it’s going back to STL, awesome! I know He is good ALl of the time. 🙂

    • Wow, Julie! At least if you go back to St. Louis you won’t have to start from scratch. I’m just bummed we won’t be there if you move back. 🙁

  2. So glad you all are now a part of that circle! It felt awesome to have you and Lee and the munchkins all in that family circle. So very glad that you felt what we feel as well every time we are together that way – openly vulnerable and totally safe. Honored to be a part of this phase of your journey…love you!

    • Love you. Thanks for giving us a night to breath in and out and feel comfortable. It was awesome. Can’t wait for this summer. 🙂

  3. Those moments are great gifts from God. Like you said, it’s a breath of fresh air that is so deeply needed. It strengthens and empowers you to pick up and re-engage in the journey. Celebrating your refreshment with you dear friend!