What if we’re better together?

It was C. S. Lewis who said:

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

If you asked about the highlights of our week in Hawaii, I might describe the wildlife. We spotted sea turtles burying themselves in the sand and schools of underwater, multi-colored fish. And whales. We sighted dozens and dozens of whales from boat, air, and land.

Humpback whales
A beach full of sunbathing sea turtles

I might describe the catamaran snorkeling trip, or our beach walks, or the road to Hana, or the helicopter tour that took us inside two craters, alongside steep waterfalls, and spotting pods of whales in the deep blue.

Extra-large, colorful fish
Beach walking
Pod activity from above

Or maybe I would describe the landscape and natural plant life. The banyan trees with aerial roots that hang down and take root wherever they touch the ground, the pristine shorelines, the blueness of the skies and waters.

Pristine blueness

Or I could describe the food of Hawaii as a highlight. Dan and I ordered mostly seafood. And it was so incredibly fresh and delicious.

Caprese salad with fresh fish and thick slices of mozzarella

But the highest highlight was spending time with family.

We were in Hawaii with two of my deceased husband’s brothers and their wives—all of whom have been brothers and sisters to me for more than forty-some years. And I loved this time of Dan and my family getting to know each other better.

Siblings left to right: Lonnie, Karen, Jeral, Laurel, Marlys, Dan

Back before I met Dan, I had good reasons for remaining single. One of them had to do with my in-laws. It would be too weird for a new husband to attend the annual reunion of my deceased husband’s family, right?

And then I met Shower Truck Guy (named thus because a meddling, scheming, matchmaking girlfriend whose husband volunteered with him on the shower truck wouldn’t tell me his name).

In time, I learned Shower Truck Guy had a name. Dan.

And later still, after Dan invited me on hikes and snowshoe treks, after we unwrapped sandwiches and sipped homemade Chai lattes while perched on fallen logs high in the Cascades, after countless conversations and the beginnings of a sweet friendship, and after we were separated for a few weeks—he in Mexico ministering to the poor, and me on a self-imposed writing retreat at a remote cabin in Idaho—that separation caused us to realize how much we had come to mean to each other.

And it scared me. Because I had stacked up several good reasons for remaining single.

Turns out, the good reasons were really fears.

And one of them was this: I was afraid a new man in my life wouldn’t understand that my deceased husband’s siblings think of me as their sister, that I’m still Aunt Marlys to a significant number of nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews, that I am included and wanted at reunions and family weddings and holiday gatherings.

If you thought this blog was about our Hawaii adventures, you’d be right.

But it’s also about community, about belonging, about family and teams and crews. We were created to need each other.

God is the Original Matchmaker because He saw that it wasn’t good for man to be alone. With mind-boggling detail and love, God crafted the first woman, Eve, for the first man, Adam. And vice versa.

God designed us to come alongside each other and battle the hard things of life together. To experience the joy of community and fellowship with Him and with each other. To procreate. To have children and grandchildren and great-grands.

God—math genius that He is—established the exponential power of marriage, of family and friendships, of partnerships and teams and villages. God inspired dinner tables and gathering places where people share food and laughter and love and wisdom. Because He knew we would need each other.

He knew our differences would complement and complete each other.

He knew we would be better together.

Are you single again after being a couple? And not of your choosing? Do you feel it would be less awkward to stay away from people who might not know what to say in your loss? Have you withdrawn because you think your friends and family members are just being polite, that they don’t really want you around, their invitations seem obligatory?

If so, then practice repeating after me: “Yes.”

“Yes, I’d love to go on that ski weekend with you and the gang.”

“Yes, I’ll be there for Thanksgiving.”

“Seriously? You have tickets to Oregon Ducks football this weekend? Yes!

I once heard a speaker talk about the power of community. Toward the end of her presentation, she asked a man in the front row of the large auditorium to clap, which came across as rather underwhelming.

She then invited another person in the front to join in. Still not impressive.

Next, the entire front row clapped. Hmmm, now we’re getting somewhere.

But when the speaker asked everyone in the packed auditorium to clap, the result was thunderous.

It doesn’t matter so much what we call it—clan, crew, tribe, family, posse. It matters that we’re connected. Because we’re better together.

Dan understands this. And we had a fabulous time in Hawaii with family who refer to him as their brother-in-law—”because you married our sister.”


(You) be strong and courageous


Are there chaff sifters in your life?


  1. Allison

    I love this, “He knew our differences would complement and complete each other.” Thank you for this beautiful reminder and I’m so glad you two had a wonderful family getaway.


    I’m still in contact with most of my ex’s family…. Even heard comments about some of them liking me more than her lol…. Havnt been invited to any family get togethers yet but I think that has more to do with logistics then anything else… They recent had their daughter, her husband and baby move back in to help facilitate some career goals for them. So not a lot of extra room at their place. And they are kinda obligated to invite my ex lol. I talk to my ex sister in law all the time. I only don’t talk to her husband because he works long hours at his nursery and comes home and crashes. So isn’t online alot.

  3. Rita Weick

    How wonderful they call you their sister and Dan their brother-in-law! That statement brought tears to my eyes. What generous hearts they have! –Rita

  4. Tracey Phillips


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