I was sitting at my good friend Josh’s rehearsal dinner listening to friends and family give toasts to Josh and his future bride. The setting was amazing. A friend of his family had a huge, beautiful piece of farmland with a house that Southern Living would be jealous of. Outside on the lawn, we were eating a delicious southern meal, served family style, while a member of the catering crew made fresh peanut brittle in a huge copper pot. It was a great setting.
Family members and friends took turns offering up encouragement and telling funny stories. One story, in particular, stood out for me that night. Uncle (he called himself Uncle if I’m recalling correctly) stood up and offered up a traditional prayer for the couple. One of the themes he kept repeating was the idea that Josh and Vanessa were going to “do life together” and that we were all going to “do life together” with them.
I don’t know if I’m late to the party, maybe it’s been going on for longer than I realize, but it seems like in the last couple of years I’ve heard that term alot. “Do Life Together” It seems like people like to say it a lot, it certainly sounds good.
“Why don’t you come down and visit, let’s do life together”
“Oh, that was so much fun, I really enjoy getting together, doing life”
It seems to me like many times that I hear the term it’s related to hanging out together or spending time together. Which is great, but I think there is definitely more to it.
After the rehearsal dinner, there was a plan that everyone would go over to the barn, where the wedding was to take place, and set up a few tables and chairs, to help get ready for the wedding. It’s too long of a story to tell, but Josh, because he is awesome, talked someone into building a barn, from the ground up, for his wedding. There was a little concern about it being done on time during the building process, and we knew that it might not have all the finishing touches, but it seemed like, for the most part, the barn was done.
When we arrived to put up a few tables and chairs, the barn was nowhere near ready. There was red sawdust covering the floor, soaking up the mud that had been tracked in by all of the workers, who were still running electrical wires and completing odd jobs around the building.
A large group of people showed up (including Uncle) to “do life together” and help put up chairs and tables. Mostly, it seemed, people planned on unstacking some chairs, maybe dancing a little, listening to some music, laughing, tossing their hair around, posting some pictures on Instagram #doinglifewithjosh, and then heading home. Well, when everyone looked around and saw what actually needed to be done, slowly but surely the crowd thinned out.
What remained was a very small group of people. We waited for the workers to finish what they were doing, and from about 10:00 pm until 4:00 am, we swept, set up the dance floor, put the stage together for the band, moved building supplies and tools out of the way, and tried to make the barn look like a place for a wedding. We returned the next morning at about 7:30, and worked right up until the wedding started, setting up tables and chairs, hanging curtains, putting out place settings and centerpieces, and making decisions about wedding things that we had no business making decisions on. During this time, Vanessa was completely unaware of what was going on, and Josh was mostly curled up in the fetal position worried that his wedding was going to be a total disaster.
But this, in my opinion, is the definition of “do life together”. It’s crawling under a stage on a sawdusty floor trying to put something together that you don’t know anything about. It’s thinking that maybe you’ll just sleep in the barn, so you can get up early and get back to work for your friend. It’s working without complaining into all hours of the night because you care about someone. It’s being there when someone needs you the most.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to toot my horn. And those other people showed up with the intent on helping, but it’s probably best that most of them left, because we didn’t really know what we were doing, and too many voices and opinions would have made it difficult to get as much done. I’m not implying that they didn’t care as much as the people who stayed to help.
The point is, that while life can and does get captured by Instagram, with people smiling and dancing, dressed in their fancy clothes and having a great time, that’s not all there is.
Doing Life means getting dirty with people, and staying up late to the point of hallucination to help them. It means losing your job for no apparent reason and having people around to help you through that time. It means getting no sleep because both kids have lost their minds, and you and your wife figure out a way to work through it together. It means searching for solutions to living the life that you desire, amidst all of the challenges life has to offer.
This, to me, is doing life together. It’s a beautiful thing, to have people around you willing to go through this stuff with you. And it is extremely rewarding (and essential if you truly care about people) to extend yourself to go through the trials and challenges with your friends and family. Do Life Together