Dailyish Thoughts #102

Insert funny meme here

Never underestimate the number of people who love you and care about you. Even if you don’t hear from them often they are still there in the background somewhere occasionally thinking about you and praying for you and silently cheering you on. I can’t even count the number of people who randomly pop into my head any given day or week who I do this for. I’m bad at reaching out for fear of inconveniencing people, but I promise you are still remembered.

I totally name these posts what I do because I can’t think of anything else to call them. I suppose they are a mish-mash of ideas so the name is apt.

Second thoughts suck. Third and fourth thoughts suck even more.

Spending time with bohemian creative people always gets my wheels turning. I’m still not sure if they are turning in a good way or a bad way. I suppose if they result in some creative endeavor I can consider it good. If they just result in existential crisis… Well…

If you are anywhere in the Jacksonville/Orange Park area tomorrow you ought to come out to our yardsale. We had a small amount of success today, Saturday should be a cakewalk.

Monday Monday

An interesting thing happens when spouses reunite. Everything else kinda goes by the wayside. Emotions are stirred. Physical desires flare up. Stories are exchanged. Jokes are made. The outside world disappears for a bit.

It’s like a honeymoon every time. Except our honeymoon was awful. But that’s a story for another day.

I had plans. I was going to take a bunch of pictures of Albuquerque. I was going to make posts. Life was going to keep going as usual. Ha! Yeah right. Once that woman comes into view nothing else exists.

I’ve mentioned before that if you ever stop seeing posts to suspect that I died two weeks ago. I used to be two weeks ahead on this thing. Lately it’s been seat of my pants! So don’t worry, I’m not dead. I’ve just been distracted.

Maybe the rest of this week will be normal.

What’s this “normal” anyway?

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Daily Thoughts #45

There is a reason God gave us a day to worship Him. There is great refreshment in meeting with the Saints and raising your voices together in worship. Not to mention the wisdom that comes from those who have been living this life for a lot longer than you have. I need those consistent reminders that I am not sovereign and that despite my feelings to the contrary I am well taken of.

I lied. I like how yesterday’s painting came out. But it’s oil, so it takes forever to dry. And it’s too big for my scanner. So no one will ever see it.

This week is going to drag on forever. I know I have said before that absence isn’t a big deal. Well. This time it definitely has been.

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A Successful Marriage, Just Out Of High School

Circa 2001 B.B. (Before Beard)

“You literally just dated and married someone from middle/ high school and stayed together?”

Yep. That’s exactly what happened.

Having that pointed out made me realize just how complicated life really is. Especially the finding and keeping a mate part.

I was blessed to meet a girl at the beginning of high school who simply latched on and never let go. One of my fondest memories of our early relationship was when I took her hand to lead her through a crowd and she stayed attached for hours afterwards. She literally would not let go of me. I asked her to go out with me fully expecting her to get over me within a month or so. Nope. She was mine and there was no changing it.

That certainly makes it sound easy doesn’t it? I mean, compared to the majority of people our experience was pretty simple. One girlfriend (unless you count that one for two weeks in 8th grade) and one boyfriend (unless you count that one in kindergarten). No breakups or heartaches, no chasing and wondering, no getting attached to someone who wasn’t interested. Compared to the norm we are freaks of nature.

But it wasn’t easy.

Starting out together that young created all sorts of headaches others avoid. It didn’t take very long to realize that we wanted to be together forever. But since “everyone thinks that about their high school sweetheart” no one believed us. We got engaged in secret and wracked our brains about ways to make it happen. Elopement was not completely off the table, folks.

And temptation… There is a reason the Bible says to get married if you burn with passion. When you are young and truly in love there is a strong passion for physical connection. “True love waits” is a silly slogan. True love commits and becomes one flesh as soon as possible.

It wasn’t easy after marriage either. Being young and immature (though you think yourselves quite wise) makes living with another sinner difficult.

We didn’t have the typical surprises many people experience after marriage. With nearly six years literally growing up together there really weren’t any secrets or skeletons or odd habits we didn’t know about.

No, our difficulties came because we read the wrong books and listened to the wrong advice and took the wrong pills. The first months of our marriage were hell. We had a foundation in the many years together, but the walls built in those first months was full of cracks and holes.

It took a while to get our footing. It took longer to gain any sense of success in our marriage.

How’d we make it work?

Well, first off, divorce is not an option. It has never been a part of our vocabulary. Even during the times when one of us (or both) wants to leave “divorce” is not a word we ever use.

Loads of patience is the second. Love is not love without patience. That may mean waiting a loooong time for a change in your spouse. It may mean years of gentle nudging in the right direction (not nagging, nagging is impatient) before you see a result. It may mean bearing infirmities much longer than you would like. Patience does pay off though. In the long run you find that you can bear more and you love each other more.

Third, a big helping of stubbornness. I won’t let her go. And she won’t let me go. By golly we made this commitment, we are going to keep it! There is no one else that I want, so I am going to selfishly cling to her with all my might. If something I do is hurting her I’m going to work on myself to change it. Because I want her. And she is one thing in my life that I actually have. Nothing else that I want ever seems to happen, so I will hold tightly to the one that has happened.

We were blessed to meet so young (and cursed) but there is no reason why you can’t be blessed to meet someone later in life.

You just have to grab them and not let go.

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Why Get Married?

As much as I would like to stay away from outrage, sometimes I have nothing else to write about. So here is something I found a bit outrageous:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1534576779919294&id=254517854591866&_rdr

Why should you get married?

According to this woman we should get married not for love but for what the other person brings to the table. We should marry for the network, for the community that we can build, and for the wealth that we can acquire from the marriage.

Basically she says the most important question to ask when considering marriage is “What can he/she do for me?”

While I do agree we should not be jumping into marriage just because our feelings tell us to, I doubt she has thought through the rest of her argument.

Just as feelings fade, so do networks, so does wealth, so does the ability to build. What is she going to do if her man gets hurt and can’t provide what she’s expecting from him? What happens if his business ventures fail or his friends leave him? What happens when they are old and just can’t build anymore?

What is she bringing to the table?

True love is not just feelings and fluff. True love is desiring to serve the other person no matter what. True love doesn’t ask “what is he bringing me?” but instead asks “what am I bringing to him?”

We should get married for true love.

In the long run it is true love that builds a family and a community. True love builds wealth in more than just materials. While it is true that sometimes you don’t like each other, true love endures even the most dull periods of feelings.

I get what she’s trying to say. Don’t marry a loser. If the person you have fluttery feelings for can’t hold onto a job or friends or even family, they may not be ready for the responsibility of marriage. Maybe you should move on if you are ready for marriage.

But should you only consider what the other person can do for you? No. Life is too short and volitile to get married for security and stability. What people bring into a relationship will change over time. What you should be asking is “What am I bringing right now that we can use to build a life together?”

If that answer is “not much” or “I don’t know” you might want to reconsider.

You Know Me

Getting told what I already know

But I deny,

You know me

And make me cry.

You know me.

You know me better than I know me,

You read all the lines I try to hide in the book of my mind,

Without me speaking a single word.

You see my actions and know my motives,

When I am unaware I acted at all.

You add flesh to the bones of my thought,

Even the thoughts I didn’t know I had

Until you poked them out.

You know my fears,

My insecurities,

And when I share,

My ambitions.

You know my needs,

Though not my wants,

Which I only tell in extreme conditions.

You know me,

Though I hardly seem to know you at all.

I’ve spent too much time navel gazing.

Too much time inside,

Always hearing but never listening,

With ears plugged with pride.

You know me,

I thought I knew me,

But I lied.

I don’t know anyone really.

Passion

If passion was clothing,

We’d never be naked…

Some feelings are too immense for words,

Too painfully explosive to cross one’s lips.

And when they dare breach that threshold,

They tumble out jumbled and quivering from exhaustion.

They dance around in one’s head,

Jumping to a feverish pitch,

Wanting to consume their object,

Wanting to be one with it,

To mold atom into atom,

To literally be it.

Love is called a fire,

One is said to burn with passion,

To be consumed with it,

To be enraptured by its object.

Love is terrifying in its power,

In its ability to empty one’s mind,

And fill it with nothing but thoughts about the beauty and loveliness of another.

Love has the power to consume hours,

To make time disappear,

As one lies in the arms of another.

Love is a power,

A force,

A thing not to be trifled with.

It is a terrible monster,

Lying in wait,

Waiting to pounce upon two people when they are least expectant,

Waiting to consume them and make them act with insanity.

Love is an action.

Driven by a will to serve another.

Undergirded with a passion to make the other immensely,

And insatiably,

Happy.

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Absence and Fondness Of Heart

There is an expression well known to people who go long periods of time without their significant others.

Absense makes the heart grow fonder.

Well, does it? I mean do you really want that other person around more when they are gone? Do you love them more when you are separated?

My marriage has been a test of this theory for some time. I used to go out once or twice a year on two week assignments, then I took a job that had me gone for two weeks at a time several times a summer. Now my wife has that same job and she spends a week or two away at a time. We won’t even mention the long days at her own station which make her home life basically just sleeping, eating a meal or two, and perhaps marital intimacy if the exhaustion isn’t too much.

Do I miss her? You bet. Do I pine about her lack of presence? No. What’s the use? Do I love her more when she’s away? Not really. In fact we have both found that the busier you are in a period of absence, the less likely you are to have strong feelings about the situation.

If anything, absence actually makes presence more difficult. You get used to a routine without that person. You get used to keeping certain emotions bound up. You stop thinking too much about the situation (and the other person) lest it become painful.

Then they come back. Your routine is muddled. You emotions are stirred. Where there would have been pain is now an empty hole into which you shovel your excitement over the reunion. Absence didn’t make the heart fonder. It kinda made it numb.

With the return comes the feels. Strong feels. So you bicker. Bouts of fighting interspersed with intense passionate embrace. All those emotions that you buried with busy-ness now find themselves naked in the laziness that comes in the arms of your lover. Your heart is no longer numb, it wants to explode.

You confuse your excitement with the negative feelings you had in the absence. It feels like panic, so you seek to suppress it. But your heart won’t let you, so you stutter over your thoughts and words and apologize profusely over the smallest of disagreements.

Absence doesn’t create fondness. There isn’t really a fondness growing at all when she is away. Instead, there is a ton of awkwardness rising up and waiting for the return. And oh so much passion.

I don’t want her around more when she is gone. I just want her to stay more when she is here. Honestly, I would rather she never leave. Especially it it’s only to build up some sort of elusive heart fondness.

Because that doesn’t actually happen anyway.

All You Need is Love

“Love…is a many splendored thing.

Love… Lifts us up where we belong.

All you need is love…”

While Moulin Rouge might have been more of a lust story than a love story it at least gave us some memorable medleys about love (and was a darn good movie).

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me)… Love, biblically is: patient, kind, not arrogant or boastful, selfless, forgiving, truthful, strong, trusting, hopeful, enduring, and everlasting… All the things that we as sinners seem to have such a hard time being.

Why is marriage so difficult? Because we aren’t loving. As soon as we lose our patience, or distrust our spouse, or hold onto a grudge about something s/he did, we are no longer loving. As soon as we decide we would rather selfishly sit on the couch then get in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, garage, home office, or nursery and lend a hand we are no longer a loving spouse.

Why is parenting such a hardship? Because it is hard to be patient with three year old tantrums or a nine year old’s backtalk. It is hard to be kind when you have been working your fingers to the bone and your six year old demands some attention. It’s very tough as a finite creature to give endless amounts of discipline and instruction to little people.

Love is tough, it does not come naturally to most of us. Movies make it seem so easy. All you have to do is kiss and say some sweet nothings and your life will blossom with joy. Not so with reality.

In reality love is holding your pregnant wife’s hair while she loses her breakfast for the third time that day (for the record my gag reflex was too much. My wife was gracious enough to let me out of this halfway through her second pregnancy). Love is sitting down and helping your nine year old figure out her feelings or giving your six year old a much needed piggy back ride. Love is making your spouse lunch every day. Love is getting up and going to work every day (or staying at home to take care of things there) so your spouse can live out their gifts and talents (at home or in a workplace).

Love is ugly sometimes. It forces us to confront our own narcissism. It makes us crush ourselves so others may rise to greatness. Love frequently leaves us feeling spent and used. There is not always an immediate or even short term return on our investments.

But in the end (the love you take is equal to the love you make), love is worth every struggle and hardship. Every pain will be counted and rewarded.

God rewards our good deeds, and those done in love all the more.