Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fear of Commitment

A tremendous commitment...

Marriage is hard work.

It is like an emotional mirror that feels like talking, but won't stop staring.

The closer you get to someone, the more intensely difficult the separation feels when you have to be alone...or at least that's what I used to think.

listen to this while reading

My friends parents had a great marriage.  They were constantly gushing over one another and kissing in public. Yuck. I remember when we were in high school it seemed like every month they were going to another marriage workshop. One day I finally got up the nerve to ask my friend why they had to go to so many workshops, because it really seemed like they were getting along just fine.  He said something unsatisfying, but passable like "they like to get away from the house" or "I think they help out young couples" or something like that.  I forgot about it and we went downstairs to play more foosball.

The summer after my first year of college I went to a music festival in Sarasota, Fl. About half way through the festival I got a call saying my friend's dad had died suddenly, leaving five kids and a lovely wife behind.  He had moved down to central Florida for a work project and had contracted a severe illness quite suddenly and before anyone knew it, he was gone.  

I went up to the funeral, it was only a couple hours away and this was a very close friend.  It was very sad, but oddly - everyone seemed ok.  I mean, they were tender, but it seemed like they were fine.  We spent time waiting there with the grief, went to a relative's house and played cards while the adults talked about fond remembrances and then I got in the car and drove back to Sarasota to continue my festival.

A few years later I was riding in a car with my friend and I asked him, I said, "at your dad's funeral, you were really strong and supportive and seemed to be handling the tragedy really well, but you couldn't really have been well? Were you ok? Are you ok now?" and after hesitating long enough that I could tell he was being sincere he said, "yeah. I mean, I miss my dad, but I guess I am just living on."

Now, I knew my friend really loved his dad and would prefer not to think or talk about the dying part of his dad's life, but he was really living on.  I thought about those afternoons at his house and his parent's kissing and going to those workshops.  I have thought about that many times since then.

I have to wonder, is it possible that the constant commitment to expressing love to each other and the consistent dedication and integration of their marriage to God created a love that was so alive and invested in their family that it lived on even when the husband did not? Is it possible that they actually had a love that conquered death?

The Bible says: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love casteth out fear." - 1 John 4:18

I know so many people, myself included that are constantly thinking about the dangers of getting too close to someone because they might lose them.  This is especially hard when you have lost something or someone that you truly loved.

I choose to think about this family every time I think about losing someone or missing someone or having to feel that loneliness of true self-reflection. I choose to remember that their love made something that didn't escape with life into that great emptiness of grief and lifelessness.  What I love matters. Who I put effort into loving matters.  Where I choose to express my love matters.  The love that is given to me is an eternal gift and I need to be grateful for it and not let it slip by unnoticed. 

The Song of Solomon is the Bible's love story.  It is by far the racy-ist of the Biblical texts...it is analogous of Christ's love for His church.  The man initially is seeking the woman, then she tells him to go away and when she feels like she may have lost him for good because she can't see him roaming around her windows anymore, she goes into the streets and starts asking everyone if they have seen him. During this process she has to explain what he is like to all these people and realizes that he is really actually kind of great. Finally she realizes that she knows where he has gone.  He has escaped to the garden to pick flowers for her.  When she gets to the garden she tells her friends not to wake him up until he is ready to be woken up - confirming her faith, trust and confidence in his plan for their love...and then she says it,

"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."

If we dedicate ourselves to each other and fully embrace loving, we are promised that our hearts will never be quenched.  Christ's love is the ingredient that makes that love eternally divine and reaches out and teaches us exactly how to love each other.

...a tremendous commitment

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