Monday, September 19, 2011

32,000 Miles Above Normal

Anyone who knows me would agree that I am a romantic. I always have been. I could give a litany of examples, but if in doubt, please take my word for it. And I'm not talking about the flighty chick flicks, the teenage romances. I mean the real stuff, the epic, the sprawling, the life-long. And while I love the stories--books, movies, oral histories--I want my own more than I can describe. More than anything else of this world, I want the big epic love story. And by that, I don't mean a perfect unblemished fairy tale. I know perfectly well that love is hard work, and commitment still harder--I have the familial history to prove it. But still I want it. A friend of mine pegged this desire well a few years ago, specifying that I didn't want to "get married," I wanted to "be married;" I don't want a wedding day as much as I want a 50th anniversary party, if you will. It's not about designing a perfect wedding day (though I plan on having a killer wedding bash, let's not kid around), but about craving the relationship and intimacy of marriage. 

It's sad to me that the last phrase there has lost its power in the last century or so. I don't mean to romanticize the past, but only to say that the cultural understanding of marriage has become something different, something less than it was. And unfortunately, even in a faith community that talks a great deal of "the sanctity of marriage," the generic American Christian community has proved no better at keeping its vows than anyone else.

But I meander off my topic. (Surprise, surprise.)

I want to get married. 

I have no guarantee of it. (Cue the well-meant contradictions here; but you can't guarantee it, either.) That's not meant to be self-deprecating or negative, it's just the truth. 

I do have some evidences, I suppose: I find it troublesome to think that God would wire me to be so geared toward the romantic if He weren't planning on using the wiring. I've felt, from time to time, inclinations pointing me in the direction of marital love. (Any details thereof would lead to labels of crazy or worse, so I'll stay vague.) And most of the time, I have a pretty vaguely-hopeful attitude about it--a well-adjusted "someday my prince will come" mindset. 

But at the moment i am several miles over Connecticut or so, and sitting on airplanes tends to bring out the introspective in me. Something about sitting so high above the world brings on a natural inclination to perspective-shift, I suppose. 

So this afternoon I find myself wondering. Not in depression or fear or anxiety, but just hanging the question out there among the clouds to my right. 

What if I doesn't happen? Can I be satisfied in my life without this thing I want most? And the subtext of that question, Would I allow God to change my heart so that it's NOT what I desire most?

Because I can't get behind a doctrine that says God wants us pining for something He doesn't intend to give. If we're desiring something that's not meant for us, there's a breakdown in communication. So my options are A) I am getting married eventually, just not tomorrow, or B) I'm resisting His desire to shape and refine my own. 

I asked the question silently, calling it over rippling oceans of cloud. And I don't hear them echo back, "Yes; May 23, 2014. His name is Beauregard and you look lovely." But neither do I hear--by which I mean, feel any inclination toward a "No." But do I read into that?

I'm reminded of something I heard once, regarding seeking where God wants you to go: "You put your 'yes' on the table; God will put it on the map."

If I'm going anywhere in this rambling, I guess it's here: I don't know, and the not knowing is okay. I am what seems to be a dying breed: the truly, contentedly single. God sets the desires of my heart, and He intends to give them to me in divine timing, unfolding a plan of the most complex, beautiful, perfect design. Whatever it is, I'm confident it will blow my mind, knock the wind out of me, and drop me to my knees.

That's good enough for me.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Gift of Falling Apart

[Drafter's Note: I hope this blog doesn't come off like I'm having crazy revelations all the time. It's just that in an effort not to make this a diary of what I did today, I tend to only come here to write when I have something substantial to say. Hence the gaps.]

A friend sent me a simple text message last night: "Chandra, I am about to fall apart."
And I know what he's talking about, and we've already mowed through all the cliches and go-to phrases of comfort and healing. I studied the words for several minutes, wondering what new words might work, and as I was wondering, this beautiful idea came to me.

We get to fall apart. I'm not sure how this idea will translate from my head to the page, but the more I thought about it last night, the more falling apart seemed a privilege rather than a problem. How exhausting would it be to have to keep it together all the time, to not have an outlet--a messy, who-cares-if-the-mascara-runs means of letting whatever is IN, out.

I hope this isn't just a woman thing, though I think it's certainly embraced more by women than men. There's a certain community when women cry at movies (or Kodak commercials), an understanding when we sometimes need a few minutes to bawl like a baby. And I don't really know if men are allowed this grace, but I hope they are, even in certain small spaces of close friendship or marriage. Because being able to fall apart is necessary. I really believe that.

"It's part of what we do," I wrote back to him. "It's allowed. A part of being human. We get to fall apart, and we get to be put back together." The best part of an argument is making up. The best part of falling apart is getting put back together. At times, this can be a human response--a hug or an encouraging talk--but, I'm sorry, nothing beats getting restored by Jesus. I recognize that this may be a strange concept for some, but there's really nothing that comes close. A far cry from cliches and empty promises, this is real healing, real restoration. All the king's horses and all the king's men may not be able to put me together again, but the King of Creation certainly can.

Falling apart isn't a malfunction. It's not an indication that we have screwed up, only an indication that we are human. We are meant to be able to fall apart, because we are meant to know that there in Something bigger than us, ready and waiting to put us back together.