“There's no substitute for a great love who says, 'No matter what's wrong with you, you're welcome at this table.'” –Tom Hanks

Today, right now, in this moment I am grateful.  

Because of the overwhelming amount of positive emotion (something we all seem to rarely experience these days) I am going to take a personal side trip and share. This isn’t just an empowering, hope-shining Recovery Talk today. For just a moment we are taking an adventure into my world. Hold on tight…  

On this day 20 years ago, I walked into a courthouse to get a marriage license. The man I was with and I had just experienced our first full conversation three weeks prior to this moment. We completed the paperwork and handed over the needed documents as we applied for that license and were informed that the Judge leaves for the day in half an hour so if we were going to get married today we would need to hurry. My intended and I just kind of looked at each other with a little grin and eyebrows raised in question to each other, “You wanna go?” And so we did. We grabbed witnesses from the outer office, stood there in everyday clothes pledging to never give up on each other. No matter what. And boy have we stuck to that over the last 20 years! This is just a snippet of our beginning and believe me, there is much more to be told but what I want to really share is that through the last 20 years, two utter strangers walked through losing a child together, addiction to substances, alcoholism, recovery, raising two insanely awesome kids, moving more times that I can count, graduate school, job changes, death of my Dad, more uncertainties than I can begin to explain, feelings of inadequacy, brokenness, hopelessness, abandonment, chronic illness, mental health challenges and more I can’t even recall in this moment at my keyboard. And I share every part of this to mention that no matter what was happening, we chose each other. From the first conversation we had to the impulsive marriage three weeks later all the way to when I kissed him goodbye on my way out the door for work this morning, that Great Love was there. Maybe not always felt or seen in the moment but I can clearly see it now and I’m so blessed, grateful and excited to just keep living in that kind of love. The love that screams, “No matter what’s wrong with you, you’re welcome at this table.” That kind of love is a life worth living. Especially when you reach out with those words to someone who may never have heard or felt them before. Maybe you don’t have a 20 year lifespan to see what Great Love looks like but you can offer even a moment of true unconditional care and compassion for another. Do it. This Great Love and willingness to Welcome someone without judgement will transform you more than anyone else.  

Gift that to yourself and someone else. Be the Great Love and open your table to all of the misfits around you. No matter what.  

Sarah Deats

Sarah Deats is the Hope Inc. Stories Inspiration Engineer. Her goals are to make a connection with everyone that she can while building community, spreading hope, and sparking change. She believes that while life may not be easy, it is never lived alone.