Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Than A Feeling: The Cup that Faith and Marriage Share

I'm still here, folks, still alive and kicking in my green snow-day fleece.

Monday we burned it up in an energized flurry of painting, baking, game-playing and general getting-alongness. Tuesday, quite another story.

What I'm finding is that I'm a snow day Jekyll & Hyde. Every blue ribbon day is followed by one that we survive by way of 17 hours of cartoons and scrounged up left-overs.

It's just so cold out. I have not stepped beyond the front door since Sunday at 3pm.

Bah. Enough of this stupid weather talk! Who have I become? Why do you guys stick around??

So, did any of you watch Sean & Catherine Lowe get hitched Sunday night? Being ABC-less, I did not. I tried last night but ABC's website hates me because I don't have a satellite TV provider, and all I can say to that is, IF I HAD SATELLITE TV I WOULDN'T BE IN THIS POSITION IN THE FIRST PLACE!

But nevermind my yelling. (I'm a little cooped up.)

The thing about the Lowes is that I just love them. It's nothing new for me to have unbridled, irrational hope in a reality TV couple, but this is different. I'm going to put it out there: I read their tweets from the day of their wedding and I'm sold. This is a guy who knows who he is and what he's about. And aside from the unusual way we came to know their names, they are actual people. He has a favorite meal and she has raggedy sweatpants that we'll never, ever see. They get their feelings hurt and speak in anger and forgive. They navigate their faith just like normal people do, imperfectly, and with the scary addition of a spotlight.

I'm rooting for them. I'm grateful for their courage. And geez, I just love a sappy love story.

Three nights back Cory and I were up until after 2 a.m. with our oldest, talking about funny things and inconsequential things and eventually, really important things. The kid asks hard questions and this lady right here was fumbling for answers, praying so hard for the right words that I don't even remember what they were.

He wondered what we mean when we talk about God leading us in some way, or speaking to us. How do we know? Do we actually hear it? Because he never has. He had his moment when everything fell away and he sat at rock bottom with nothing but the truth that there was something much larger than himself, a God who created and loved him, and that he needed him.

But now what? What does it mean when all those feelings drift out to sea and life busts you in the face? Was something lost? Was that feeling never really his to hold?

I found myself returning again and again to the story of my marriage, the irrational, ridiculous, falling-in-love of his parents, complete with all the bells and whistles and roses and tears.

I told him about the night I stood in the center of the soccer field, a stubborn twenty-year old myself, so sure that this was the man I would love forever, how I begged God to let him be mine and knew that feeling could never blow away.

God did let him be mine, almost 15 years ago.
But that feeling hides sometimes. It gets lost in life and appointments and bills and different kinds of tears.

I wish it wasn't this way.

If I could, I would have gathered up that soccer field feeling and kept it in a tiny bottle by my side, spritzing a little onto my hair everyday, the elixir of perpetual bliss.

Instead, I got the gift of that moment, as clear as the ice tracking my window panes, the certainty that it was real. It was love.

And anything real can last.
And anything love can last.

Some days it feels like the sun on my shoulders or his hand on my own, a tangible thing.
Other days it's a promise, drifting and shadow-hiding, but still known.

We sell our hope for a tired dime when we tie our marriage or our faith to a feeling, cooking the intended complexity of holy communion down to dregs.

Call me an introvert, a thinker, dispassionate, practical.
You're at least half-right.

But I hear that song on the radio on a day that's gray and my heart is beating on the far-away side and it worries me, because this feeling very well could be wrong. And I don't think worship is something we "get on".

Worship, like love, is a certain steadiness. It's staying consistent and present when the days are too long and the nights are lonely. It's all the little things, the small obediences and unacknowledged tasks. Worship is the salt-tracks of grief and quiet reflection. Love is toes touching under the covers when words have been scare or raw.

Faith, like love, is staying up when you're tired. It's walking miles and miles when your feet are sore. It's keeping a thing that can't always been seen, trusting you won't be left alone and knowing you won't be the one to walk away.

I don't know that Robert really understood all we were saying, because all this God stuff is brand new and he's never known the kind of love that keeps on staying.

But that's what I'm wishing for him, and for the Lowes and for you and for me. I'm wishing we keep finding a way to stay IN this. That we ride the flows and all the ebbs and keep our feelings in the corner when they're uncooperative or playing hide-and-seek.

God is so much bigger.
Love is so much greater.