I’m seven months since the last baby was born and still fighting with my jeans.

She’s wearing hers like a perfect fit and I can’t help but say what I’m really thinking, “Man, you look great. You just look so good. How’d you do that? How’d you get back to the pre-baby shape so quick?”

And I don’t know what I’m expecting. But I’m not expecting her to say what she’s really thinking. I’m not expecting that at all.

“Stress. A lot of stress. I was running and then I got too busy and now I eat once a day and grab a chocolate bar. It’s not good. But it is what it is.”

I’m floored right there in the back of church before we head out to Fudruckers together. I’m so used to hearing the polite answer I think I’ve forgotten how comforting the real one is.

It’s powerful when a friend steps out from behind fine and looks you in the eyes.

Christy gives me friendship instead of fine.

She gives me freedom to share my washer-packed-up, toilet-backed-up, kids-all-been-sick-all-week, sometimes-I-think-I’m-losing-my-mind, opposite-of-fine answers too.

It’s like remembering how to exhale. When you’re reminded that it actually doesn’t come easy all the time to everyone.

That fine is usually an awkward diminishing of the truth.

Grown up camouflage.

Karine emails me encouragement and I’m getting ready to email her back when I pick up the phone instead. It takes me a while to find it. I’m always losing it under books and Kindergarten reading assignments that somehow get left to the last moment.

But when I do, it’s worth it.

Because her voice is laced with warmth and understanding when I tell her how my “study” is fighting the onslaught of miniature 18-wheelers, stuffed dogs and legos. I sit in an island of sunshine adrift in a Tuesday afternoon of upheaval and she doesn’t flinch when I tell her I don’t feel fine.

Instead she tells me about her own day of doctor’s tests and home schooling and undone dishes.

We come out of hiding together.

The baby sleeps while I listen to Karine’s stories and laugh so hard that I start to feel normal again. And when we’re done talking. When I’ve started dinner and fought with Jackson over whether he will eat brats or not and told Micah to take off his shoes, I open my inbox and find she’s sent me a post script to our conversation.

She’s sent pictures of her every day chaos. Kitchen, living room and hall way. I’m smiling or maybe I’m crying.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:31-32.

I go back to the brats and the son who insists on trying to feed Zoe and my chest isn’t quite so tight.

And when we go out to dinner on Sunday night. When we re-arrange schedules and ask good men to watch many kids. When we plan times and which mall we’ll meet at.

When me and her and Connie and Dana sit down for two hours over Chinese food and conversation – no one wastes time being fine.


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