Last night, I sat with a friend who told me her love story. She and her boyfriend were madly in love. They found in each other everything that they had ever wanted. They understood each other’s demanding work schedules. He listened to her. Really listened. In fact, he called her every night, no matter the hour on his long and late commute to his house from work. They had fun together, they laughed together, and they quickly became each other’s best friends. He loved to ski, to camp, and to work with the youth group at his church. She didn’t love the outdoors, but she loved that he loved to ski, and camp. Together, they worked with the youth group at his church. They both loved God and each other. That was enough. He bought a ring. He called her parents. He told his parents of his plans. They started to dream about what life might be like together, with the promise of forever.
Then, one morning he left early to go skiing, early enough to be the first one on the lift so that his tracks in the powder would be the first of the day. But on his way up to the mountain that morning, a sleeping disorder caused him to fall asleep at the wheel. He veered off of the road, into a tree, and died.
A couple of days later, his parents gave her his grandmother’s ring, the one with which he planned to propose. But death did them part before she was able to say “I do”. She was left alone, mourning their shared hope of forever. She was left in silence, every night, when they once shared long phone calls on his way home from work. Now, it’s been five years since her boyfriend passed away. She isn’t sure that she will ever find that kind of love again. Nicholas Sparks once wrote, “The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected.” No doubt their souls were and always will be connected. But, he is there, and she is here...left to pick up the pieces of her broken love story and to move on...somehow...without him.
If you knew that you only had a few days left with the one you love, would you change anything? The way you look at him? The way you talk to him? Would you take an extra minute to listen to what he tells you or to look into his eyes when you walk past him in the hallway? Would you be gentler with your words? Less harsh with your thoughts? Would you focus on who he is instead of who he isn’t?
|Craig's Dad, Ray|
Why do we treat those we love the most the worst? I read a quote today by Haruki Murakami that said, “Here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can. How could I ever hurt her? But I didn’t understand then that I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. A person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”
It’s true, isn’t it. My friend was hurt beyond repair by the loss of her boyfriend. But we hurt others beyond repair while we’re still alive, by our own selfishness. We hurt with our words. With our actions. With our silence.
That makes me think of the way that I treated some of my ex-boyfriends. In fact, a friend of mine once told me that the pain I’ve caused others in love is comparable to killing a person. Perhaps that’s what drew me to study love. For so long, I didn’t understand it.
I thought that love was supposed to be all about me and about getting my needs met. I once told a boyfriend, “You are welcome to try to find a way to fit into my life, but I am not going to change to fit into yours.” Can you imagine? It’s a good thing that we weren’t married, because that marriage would’ve been doomed to failure on account of my selfishness. In fact, the relationship ended on account of my selfishness. I thought that I needed to kiss other boys before I got married. I also thought that my true love was the guy who wrote poetry and lit candles for me. The feelings of limerence went wild and I was sure that I would be lying to my heart if I didn’t follow it straight to him. So, I broke up with the nice boy who was willing to change for me and allowed the poet to take up residence in my heart. Turns out that he wasn’t as nice as the nice boy who I broke up with for him. He wasn’t as stable either. I’ve come to believe that not many poets are, but that instability allows them to fall into the depths of their souls from where they can write the words that move us all. So, I broke up with the poet because he wasn’t willing to change for me either, and despite the passion we felt when we looked into each other’s eyes, we didn’t have much to talk about. I broke his heart too.
And then, when I was sure that I had found the one, because we were so much alike, I realized that the ways that we were alike were not healthy. We both believed that the world should give way for us. I cheated on him with a good looking but shallow man. He cheated on me with a woman whose face I’ve never seen. Cheating, in general, isn’t healthy for relationships. And so ours ended. Two hearts broken.
One more boyfriend, who I thought could do a better job of being my boyfriend, also failed at being everything I’d ever wanted and needed.
Then, I met Craig. By that point, I’d started to realize that something was wrong and it was probably me. Turns out that it was. One person can't do all of the loving and caring in a relationship. It takes two.
Craig’s dad passed away about a year before we started dating. A couple of weeks into being crazy for Craig, I had a dream. In my dream, Craig’s dad was there and he said, “Craig is such a special person. I think that you two could be very happy together and I will do everything that I can to make that happen. But if I do, you have to promise me that you will always be good to him.”
I woke up with the feeling that I had just visited with his Dad. And in that moment, I promised him that I would. It was a profound moment for me and certainly life altering. For the first time, I realized that it was up to me to cherish him.
For a long time I didn’t feel like I deserved Craig. After all, I’d done nothing but deceive others and break hearts in merciless ways until then. Why on earth should I deserve someone as great as Craig? And I used to tell my friends that. And then someone told me, “God doesn’t care what you did. He cares what you’re doing.” And that’s when it clicked. I cherish Craig. I adore him and I thank God for him. I deserve Craig because of the way that I treat Craig and how much I appreciate and adore him...not because of anything that happened before.
When I hear stories like the one I heard last night from my friend, it reminds me of how lucky I am to be given this chance with Craig. We loved and adored each other just like they did. Craig bought a ring just like he did. But Craig had the chance to give it to me. I had the chance to say yes. I don’t know or understand God’s plan. I don’t know why my friend’s relationship ended so tragically. It’s not fair and that makes me angry and sad. It also makes me work harder to never take my marriage for granted.
I’m not always the perfect wife, but I strive to be better every day. I strive to listen to him. To let him know that he’s heard. I strive to stay focused on what is best for our family and our relationship. I keep my eyes away from other men. I keep my thoughts away from other romance. He deserves it. We all do.