This past spring as I rounded out my last semester at Samford, I had the great privilege of taking a ceramics class. We were free to make whatever we pleased, so I decided to make a set of dishes. Eight dinner plates, eight salad plates, eight bowls, and eight tumblers. I had grander plans of dessert plates and goblets, but who knew the wheel would be so difficult?! Ghost did not prepare me for this. Making the dinner set was, in part, a fun introductory foray into ceramics. But it was also an exploration of a personal philosophy I've been forming over the past few years.
Over the years, I've attended dozens of wedding showers for my three siblings as they've celebrated their wedding seasons. I'm convinced we have the world's most incredible family friends because they have lavished blessings and gifts and love upon us on all kinds of occasions, particularly those pertaining to marriage. Two summers ago, I sat at a kitchen shower for my sister Mary Austin and watched, a bit starry-eyed, as she opened one gorgeous package after the other. By the end of her wedding season, she had been given enough of those gorgeous packages to build and fill a home for her and her new husband. She had finished college and she was getting married, so her life was finally beginning. Right?
During that kitchen shower, I took in the room full of Mary's kind, beautiful, magnificent friends, most of whom were single college graduates. I found myself wondering, Where are the gifts for these people? How will they fill their new homes? Who is celebrating them?
And that question has bothered me now for years. Marriage is fantastic, but it does not mark the beginning of life or of adulthood. So why do we live as though it does?
(I made the pretty horrific mistake of voicing this question very loudly at the aforementioned kitchen shower during a gap in gift opening. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. But, hey, I've never claimed that tact is my strong suit...)
I was discussing this topic with an engaged friend last fall. In her typical fantastically sagacious way, she offered this idea: Don't wait to set your table. That pithy, somewhat nebulous advice struck me so deeply. Those words say, Build your home today! Gather your family now! This is the time to establish a space for celebration and shelter and conversations. Take that trip. Cook that meal. Pursue that dream. Make that friend. Don't wait for a ring to validate your existence. You are whole today. Life began the moment Jesus authored and perfected your faith. This is good news!
We are meant to do this life together, whether that be together with a spouse or a family or a stellar community of friends. There's no question about that. Luckily, I've got many teammates already and can't wait to find some more. One day, when my brain is more fully formed and my heart less selfish, I would absolutely love to get married. What a gift that would be. A gift, however, is not a goal. By God's amazing grace, I finished college last month. By a well-intentioned Southern social expectation, I'm now being asked repeatedly when I will find myself a man. Here's the answer: maybe I'll find one tomorrow. Maybe I'll never find one.
Either way, I have set my table with my own two hands.