Friday, February 18, 2011

The Year of You and Me, Part 2 by Sharon Lurie

© 2010 David's Harp and Pen

Mood: Hopelessly Romantic

DISCLAIMERS: This blog is based, in part, upon actual events and people. Certain actions and characters have been dramatized and fictionalized, but are inspired by true events and real people. Certain other characters, events, and names used herein are entirely fictitious. Any similarity of those fictional characters or events to the name, attributes, or background of any real person, living or dead, or to any actual events is coincidental and uninten…oh, what’s my problem? I should spend less time trying to protect others from embarrassment and more time protecting myself!

Dear Sharon,

You have no idea how excited I was to get your letter, as excited as an uptight, anal-retentive, overly-analytical, emotionally unavailable man can get. (That was me trying to be funny, as well as come to terms with certain character flaws I didn’t want to admit I had. Did it work? I really am trying. Attempting humor other than sarcasm is still foreign to me, so I ask once more for you to please be patient.)

You have been on my mind, too, so much so that I’ve found it hard to concentrate on little else. I know all the women at work are tired of me mistakenly calling them by your name. I miss you so much, in fact, that a few weeks ago, I made a journey to Cold Mountain, and I forced myself to look past the fact that it was mostly Englishmen and Australians playing American characters, that most of their American Southern accents were horrible, that it was an Englishman directing a film about the American Civil War, that is was filmed in Romania and not North Carolina, and that I probably couldn’t have watched the graphic love scenes if I knew that Jesus was physically sitting next to me (that was also a run at humor, mind you. How am I doing?)

Anyway, I wanted to tell you, I get it. I finally get it. Everything you said about being broken, when the reasons for and the end result of the brokenness aren’t apparent. What you said about things that look like detours sometimes being the most important part of the journey. What you said about the necessity of life and that relationships do sometimes get messy so that the beauty and order of Christ could really shine through. I understand, at long last. Inman was a much better man than I gave him credit for, and that you would refer to me as your Inman thrills me to no end.

Thank you for being so honest with me. Thank you for the honest and heartfelt apologies. Just from the tone of your letter, I know that God has done some big things in your life since we spoke a year ago. It’s time for me, though, to make some apologies and explanations of my own.

I cannot forget that huge argument we had and all those things I said to you. Honestly, when I think about it, it almost seems like it was someone else saying all those things instead of me, but it was me, and I must own that. I was so angry and so frustrated, but instead of being honest about it, I stuffed it until it consumed me and allowed myself to be cowardly and selfish, someone I hate. The look on your face when it was all over…it has haunted me over the last year. Even though we talked about it afterwards and I felt, at the time, I had made sufficient amends, I see now that there’s still a world of explaining to do. Since I last saw you, I have come to see how much anger I have pent up, that I don’t exercise nearly the self-control I like to think I do, and that for all intents and purposes, I became a fire-breathing dragon. I am sorry. There is no excuse, and I am working on doing much better in the future.

When I told you that you weren’t my first choice…I know how much that hurt you, and I’m sorry to say at the time, that was my intention. I know how many times people have told you they didn’t like you when they had met you, or they were surprised when you did something well, because their first impression of you didn’t give them much reason to hope. In this last year apart, however, I have learned something about my own judgement. Let me explain:

When I met you, you were working in the church bookstore. I came in and asked you about a book. I was taken aback by what a high-pitched, squeaky speaking voice you had, like that woman on that TV show that I refuse to watch. As you answered me, you put your hand on the counter, which caused the caster on the bottom to come loose. The counter slanted, and the cash register went flying into my shin, making a dent still visible today. At that moment, I would’ve been happy if I’d never seen you again.

Yet as I got to know you better, I realized that you were not the person I thought you were. You told me that I surprised you. I think of the two of us, though, I was more surprised. You say some of the goofiest, silliest things I’ve ever heard, and yet you can sit down and talk and write about theology, science, politics, practically anything with the best of them. You are silly, yet so wise. You are so funny, yet when the occasion warrants, deadly serious. You are a series of glaring, yet wholly cohesive contradictions. The truth is, you are constantly surprising me.

I always had a vision of what the woman I would marry was going to be like. She was going to grow up in a Christian home, have been home-schooled and graduated from a Christian college, be a virgin, quiet, sweet, supportive, never talk back to me, and think I was the most brilliant, strongest, handsomest, and Godliest man on the face of the earth. You fit some of that description, but not the majority. You grew up the hard way. You had to fend for yourself. You have the innocence and the purity of someone who was sheltered without having the privilege of actually being sheltered. In fact, if you hadn’t told me about your childhood, I wouldn’t have known, because you’ve always got so much joy, even when you’re depressed. Even though it’s been challenging to walk with you through some of the emotional stuff you’ve had to go through, I wouldn’t trade you for anyone. I’d do it again if I had to. And I’ll keep walking through that with you, because what I’ve learned in life is that we never fully overcome our hurts and fears, we just learn how to lean on grace when we need it the most. You have a purity that only comes from being tried in the fire. You have a beauty that only comes from being refined repeatedly by the Master. You have a wisdom and a strength to offer that only comes from letting God take you through the desert and back. So, all this is to say that what I wanted wasn’t what was truly best for me, and now that I know what is best for me, I see what I really want is you. What I mean to say is (you’re so much better at giving compliments than I am), even though you were not my first choice, I see now that you are my best and only choice. I would never have thought that the goofiest, silliest, funniest woman on earth would be my only hope for sanity and stability and focus to stay the course and fight the good fight, but I guess God knows better than I do.

I must apologize/explain something else, mainly when I told you to “get a grip.” I do not have the background you do. Yes, my family had its issues, as do all families, but I was pretty fortunate to grow up in a Christian home and have parents who provided for me as well as mine did. I didn’t experience a lot in the way of challenges. I’ve never had anyone close to me die. I’ve never struggled with my health. I’d also like to think that, even though you’re the one with the Jewish blood, I’m the one that was just destined to make money (heh!). Until about 15 months ago, I certainly had never experienced—how do you put it?—the collective @#$! hitting the proverbial fan. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to make everything all better for you, and be strong for you, and I didn’t know how. So, I got frustrated with you, and told you to snap out of it, and get a grip, etc., etc. I did a lot of thinking and praying about what I said to you, that I handled my own little “dark night of the soul” better than I thought you were handling yours. And then it dawned on me: the reason I got through my crisis as well as I did was only because of you. You never told me to “get a grip.” You always made me laugh, always helped me to see the big picture, always interceded for me. The truth is, you made me forget how miserable I really should have been in that situation, how miserable so many of my buddies had been in the same situation. You were a constant bright spot and always there for me. You didn’t let me feel sorry for myself, by any means, but you didn’t trivialize what I was going through. Then, when it was your time of difficulty, did I repay the love and kindness you showed me? No. I really thought all my advice and “putting you in your place” was my way of being helpful. I see now all it did was make your healing process that much longer. I was wrong, and I am so sorry.

I was humbled by that list you made of all the things you appreciated about me. It’s nice to know that, at least in your eyes, I got so many things right. The truth is, though, that I didn’t fight for you in one very important aspect, and that was I didn’t let myself feel your pain. I didn’t put myself in your shoes, nor did I try to bear your burden as I should have. When I saw you in pain, and crying all the time, I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted it all to end for you; not recognizing that this was something God was bringing you through for a very specific purpose. Men like to be strong. We like to be heroic and daring for the women we love. I would’ve preferred rescuing you from a burning building, or pulling you from railroad tracks as a speeding locomotive rushed towards you. That would’ve been very simple and straightforward. Since I didn’t see the way out for you and I couldn’t understand why all the textbook, spiritual-sounding things weren’t doing you any good, I felt helpless. When I think of being strong for you, I think in terms of fighting hard and standing tall. What you needed in this case was for me to lay my life down and get on my knees. I didn’t see that. So, instead of taking my fear and inability to help you to God, and doing the work of sitting at His feet and listening to what He had to say, I let it turn to frustration and anger and blame and I directed it all on you. In this last year, I have learned what it’s meant to walk in your shoes, and I’ll tell you more about it when I see you in person. For the time being, let me say I am so sorry, even though words will always fail to convey how badly I feel about how I judged you, or how I have been humbled in your absence.

I see so much of what you said when we were together was true. Underneath this bravado and sarcasm is an extremely shy and trepidatious man. When you pointed it out to me, I blew you off, but you were right. When you get past all my Bible knowledge and statistics quoting, at the heart is someone who really has no idea how to connect with people at the soul level or be transparent. I thought I did, but I don’t. You said to me, a little over a year ago, “You have no problem saying, ‘I used to struggle with such-and-such,’ but you have a big problem saying, ‘I am really struggling with such-and-such at the present moment.’” Now that I’ve acknowledged it, though, I can work on it and get past it. I wondered, at first, how you could’ve recognized that in me when you’d known me for such a short period of time. Then I discovered how shy you really are. How much of an introvert you are. Yet you apply yourself so diligently to talk to people, to empathize with others, and carry others’ burdens. And if you can do it, then I can, too.

You said that I was a picture to you of the unchanging nature of God’s character. I could write a whole book about how you’ve reflected God to me. The way you bear other’s burdens. The way you, like the Holy Spirit, speak such conviction to me at the moments when I least expect it. The way you seem to see right through people and can perceive what’s going on in their hearts, just like Jesus did. The way, even in the most exasperating situations, you can see how God is moving and working behind the scenes. How, even when I’ve seen you at your lowest, you will reach out to those around you who are hurting and speak to them of the goodness of God. How, with all you endured throughout your life, I’ve never heard you talk about being angry with God, even though I know so many people who have walked away from Him after enduring much less than you. How you are much quicker to talk about your struggles and the grace God has shown you than you are to talk about your talents and your successes. All the times I have been like Elisha’s servant, overwhelmed by the circumstances I saw mounted against me, and you have been Elisha, and you prayed that God would open my eyes to see all of God’s armies rushing in to my defense. You have been to me my ezer kenegdo, my desperately-needed life-saver.

I could write here all the things I’ve learned about God from you, all the ways you have blessed me and changed me, but I will save that for another letter. Let me say now, that I love you. I love you most ferociously. You make me want to be a better man, and you have already made me a better man. (And, at the risk of sounding selfish, I’m glad I’m the only man on earth who realizes how wonderful you are, because if all the other men ever caught on, I’d spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder and fighting them off!)

I am telling you now, you will not out-love me. You will not out-give me. You will not out-serve me. I don’t say that to sound egotistical, either, like I have to be number one. However, I am your covering. God has given you to me to lead and to love. And just as Jesus said that any one who wants to be first must be servant of all, if I’m to be the head of and high priest of my home, I know I must first set the example of being a servant, and a giver, and a lover.

You are lovely. You have such amazing, big mood-ring eyes that change color and are so full of wonder and amazement yet can burn a hole right through me when I get out of line. You are my Godly, virtuous, beautiful, wise, funny, selfless super hero! (I hope that came out right. It seems like whenever I try to compliment someone, it always comes out sounding like an insult. I’m still working on it.)

I’ll be your Inman if you’ll be my Ada. I’ll be your Johnny if you’ll be my June. I’ll be your George if you’ll be my Gracie. I’ll be your 86 if you’ll be my 99. Most importantly, I’ll be your Boaz if you’ll be my Ruth.

Inman risked imprisonment and death to walk 250 miles to get back to Ada. He didn’t know if she was still alive, or if she’d found someone else, or if she even loved him. God has given me a crash course in that kind of love and that kind of vision, and I want you to know you are worth every step.

I’m not the poet. You are, but I hope you at least appreciate the attempt. Mr. Inman and I have become good friends in recent days, and I’d like to think if he read this, he’d approve:


If it were enough
To stand here without the words
To stand and still be heard
And be heard rightly
And because it’s enough for you
I’ll let my heart speak loudly

That you bring out the poetry in me
You inspire a soulful symphony
That stirs my senses
Moves me past awkward silences
You make me see
Just how free I’m meant to be

If it were enough
To stand here without the words
Let you simply see you’ve stirred
This hope within me
And because it’s enough for you
I’ve found means to say it clearly

And you love me enough to take me as I am
But you love me enough not to let me stay as I am

That you bring out the best of what I am
You make me aspire to something grand
Break through my shyness
You’re the calm when I am restless
And of this I am sure
You’re the words I have been searching for


The End

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