Tag Archives: companion

Good Grief

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays are of course the traditional phrases this time of year, but for many people, for many reasons, ‘merry’ and ‘happy’ are more of a challenge to live up to than authentic state of being.  I’m not into morbid, but I am into real, and life doesn’t get more real than the surreal experiences death brings.  Some people get a brief reality check and take stock of what changes they should make.  Others get hit with a more permanent situation, as they have to discover what to do now that the rest of their life won’t include someone they love dearly.

If you’ve been around me or my blog in the past 2 years, you’ve encountered the name Tricia Lott Williford.  Her blog is full of insights and the antics of her two boys.  Since Christmas of 2010, it has also been full of their grief journey, as they lost husband and father to illness within the span of 12-16 hours.  As for real, she’s got it down.  I have recommended her blog to several people as they begin their journey through such a grief, because nice sayings from those of us who haven’t really been there can only do so much (and it ain’t much).  She has a book coming out in February 2014, “And Life Comes Back”, and I have every intention of getting it. 

This year, thanks to Tricia, I’ve been introduced to another blogger, Brad Luczywo, who lost his wife in 2010.  He’s also about being real, and like Tricia, has two children to raise without the partner he expected to share the adventure with.  Unlike Tricia, he went through the rollercoaster of hospital and hope and devastation for a year, and intensely for two weeks, before she was gone. 

Both of these are real and transparent with their agony, but they’re not wallowing in despair.  Frankly, with two kids each, they don’t have the time for that.  They have more topics than grief and loss – they speak of their faith, and the One in whom their faith rests.  Tricia also includes meaningful quotes, writing insights, and of course, the antics of two young men in training who are most certainly all boy.  Brad, I’ve only recently ‘met’, but I’m inclined to read the rest of what he has written. 

Another theme the both of them have in common is that they loved and were loved well. If you are in the place of seeking your life’s partner, or just making a list of important characteristics, read what these two have to say. If you have your partner, and you find the ring on your left hand chafing a bit, read what these two have to say. If you’ve lost your partner and you’re in that awful place between ‘what happened’ and ‘what now’, read what these two have to say. They’ll bring you in touch with real, and more importantly, with real faith.

That same faith will sustain those of us still in search of our unmet partners, or our unborn children. It will sustain those who find themselves without the partner they used to have, not by death of the person, but by death of the relationship. It will sustain those whose relationships are intact but homes and posessions and treasured artifacts are irreparably destroyed. Grief in different forms touches all of us at some point. When it pushes you closer to the One who loves you, who redeems every situation; when it becomes a building block to greater faith in Jesus and a stronger more gracious character, it can rightly be called ‘good grief’.

Engage!

It was a few months before my graduation, a little over a year ago now.  I had just finished another one of those Mother-Daughter conversations that daughters can recite with astounding accuracy  – it’s practically scripted.  Truth be told, it has been for generations, but some mothers & daughters get an early escape from it.  We didn’t.

“If you were married, I wouldn’t worry so much.” Continue reading Engage!

For the Love of Dog

You’ve heard of the differences between cats & dogs – that cats are independent and aloof, whereas dogs are pack animals, loyal and social to a fault. Interesting, isn’t it, that by simply reversing the letters, you get ‘god’….hmmm….

I’ve been in daily contact with a 2yo Golden Retriever. When I am the only human in the house, she insists on being as close to me as possible. More than two steps of distance in any direction is enough to get her to move, and when I’m alone in the house but not accessible, she lets out a mournful cry that would melt the sturdiest heart. I may have my reasons for being away from her, and know that I’m still being responsible for handling any emergency that could arise, yet she cries out for my company, the distance is too great. (well, she’d be thrilled with any of us humans, but that’s beside the point at hand)

Now, as a human who could be caught off balance and injured by falling, I’m rather uncomfortable finding her laying just behind my ankles.  I admit to being bemused when I open the bathroom door to find her laying against it.  Then there’s that despondent howl.

It was said, I believe by C.S.Lewis, that if you wish to know what worship looks like, look into the eyes of a dog.  It’s not that they’re always wanting you to feed or entertain them, they are most often content with being near. They stay near enough to be petted, to commiserate with your pain or grief, and to notice when you grab your coat & keys, in case they could go for a ride and see the world with you.  Of course, if you leave food unattended, they’ll be quick to snatch the blessing.

It struck me one day, do we have the same affection and devotion to God?  He won’t fall if we’re resting at His ankles, and there’s no telling what treasures or caresses we may get if we move to follow His every step.  We’ll certainly look back on a life less wasted if we’re alert and responsive, and may even get to see the world with Him.  The enemy will have a tougher time getting to us if we’re near and attentive to God – oftentimes, we make the tempter’s job way too easy.

Do we miss God when He’s not immediately accessible?  Do we cry out for His presence and wait in the last place we were with Him, or do we run off and content ourselves with a toy?

I’m not sure I’d recommend going to prayer with your tongue lolling and your behind wagging, but you may want to give some thought to what your devotion looks like, from a dog’s eye view.

The Men I Didn’t Marry

Relax, guys, it’s not a full-disclosure expose, honest. It’s just that, occasionally, I think of each of you, and to differing degrees and for various reasons, I give thanks.

Mr. ‘First Love’ married someone else and had multiple children – now the family is in turmoil because of characteristics I was once too starstruck to see, but have since become familiar with. Many apparently confident people are working hard to keep their closet doors closed, ever fearful of the skeletons that may jump out & attack at any moment. Such people are distracted and fear that they cannot afford to be genuine. I’d rather have someone who throws his closet doors wide open, introduces his skeletons to my skeletons, and we can all dance in freedom.

Mr. ‘Close Call’ had his own issues (yeah, don’t we all). That could have been a real mess, with the control structures in both families and anger management issues in both of us. It would have been ugly. I dated another one with a controlling mentality – let me warn you, ladies, it looks like protection at first…it looks like care and leadership… but do more than scratch below the surface before you give him what he wants, because you may find yourself catering to his wants for a long time to come, and more out of duress than depth of affection.

Mr. ‘Too Good to be True’ is an illustration of God’s amazing attention to our every whisper. I hung up the phone, having been in a pleasant conversation with a fellow…we were in the first steps of the dating dance, and this guy was fairly impressive, so far. I tossed off a simple but sincere “if there’s something I should know, now would be a good time” prayer, and climbed into bed. I had just fallen asleep when the phone rang, 12:30 in the morning, and on the other end I heard the sniffling sobs of a man who was already committed, essentially engaged, to another woman. She & I spoke a few days later, she sounded more like a mom than a girlfriend (make sure you keep the distinction ladies, or it’ll come back to bite you). I don’t want a guy that I take from someone else, because he could as easily be taken from me. Hollywood is replete with examples.

The list of blind dates, well, internet match-ups, could fill chapters… it’s not that I’m such an experienced dater, it’s that these folks, well, if you’ve been there, you know. One was so without a sense of humor that he registered negative on the scale, so badly that it was rather humorous. One didn’t connect with anything I had to say, but tried to convince me he was highly enamored with the unique person that I am….hmmm… I’d rather be understood. A couple made for pleasant conversations with people I would likely never meet & talk to if we’d remained in our normal circles – interesting conversations, those. I’d encourage more pre-screening, and lower expectations – if it’s a fun diversion for a few hours, no harm done, enjoy. Some people really have met their spouses online and couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m one of those who sign up every few years to remind myself why I don’t sign up for online dating.

There’s one that I miss, less frequently now, but again, the starry glasses are broken and I can see both my errors and some of the elements in him that may not have fit me and my life’s path as much as I had convinced myself. It is because of this one that I offer the caution to take things slower than you believe slow to be. We get tired, anxious for the decision to be made, but that gets us a free ticket to broken hearts or worse disasters. He married someone else, and I have honestly prayed that he and his family are happy. This tells me that if he had been mine, we would have worked through the issues that divided us – he didn’t, so he wasn’t, so I give thanks for not marrying the man who wasn’t absolutely sold on the idea of me being his wife. I’m going to be committed to my man, I want him committed to me.

Finally, there’s the one that got away…quietly disappeared into the mist and has been impossible to find. Again, if he’s mine, he’ll find me, or God will put us in the same place at the same time, and we’ll take it from there. Until then, or until I’m introduced to the right one, I’m thankful that my story doesn’t include the issues I could have been facing.  Rather, it has me being free to minister to those who are dealing with them.

Relationships: design & distortion

It’s not good for the man to be alone – I will make a helpmeet for him. (Gen 2:18)

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know there are exceptions, I’ve met several of them. The trend, however, still significantly outweighs the exceptions.
<END DISCLAIMER>

Guys seem to know this inherently… let a woman get sick, and she’ll hide away under the covers, occasionally coming out to make another cup of tea…. let a man get sick (you know this, ladies!), and he can’t quite reach the remote control that’s laying on the floor beside him – he need only drop his hand from the couch, yet he calls out for his wife. Let death visit a long term marriage, and the widow will more often than not shift into the single life and new (or renewed) interests… the widower, on the other hand, will often remarry in fairly short order. It’s not that he doesn’t miss and grieve for his lost wife, it’s that he’s simply lost without her and flounders until he gets remarried.

We ladies (take note, fellas) also crave companionship – we were designed to respond to, lean into, a partner. We want to share thoughts and projects and dreams and sunsets (maybe a sunrise or two, on special occasions) with someone who is committed to be there for the next one (or at least try). Those who find such a relationship, once, consider themselves very fortunate, and frankly don’t expect to find it again. This is why the widows tend to say “that was good, now for something different”. They have given their whole selves to one man, and it’ll take a lot to find another worthy of a similar gift.

Strangely enough, most people don’t get past the schoolyard mentality when it comes to relationships. The ladies are still anxious to let everyone know that someone regards them as special, and the guys are still blase about the whole thing – “oh her? yeah, we’re together”. Maddening! But it’s so classic that musicals have been written about it – ‘Grease’ comes to mind. Why is that?

Some time after Gen 2:25, the first man & woman made the decision that they should know and decide for themselves what is right and good, without interference from their Creator. We have been on our own ever since, except for those who have gone back to Him for direction. He told the woman, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen 3:16). I had long thought this was part of the decreed penalty, but I’m starting to believe it was a simple statement of fact. The world has been jostled from it’s original design (geek translation: there’s now a bug in the system), and this unreserved partnership will never be the same again. The core is still there, the need for a helpmeet, and the need to be needed… but, like all other things, it developed a protective thorny shell. Now we have this crazy denial dance we go through, so that we don’t have to admit to getting our hopes up in case the relationship ends.

Some of us, especially ladies, deny who we are so that we can appear to be what *he* wants. Some of us, especially men, deny the need for another person by juggling two lives – one still single, and one focused on winning *her*. He finds security in his independence, she finds security in belonging. When we get past the honeymoon, or 10th anniversary (depending on how long the mask holds out), we look at each other and wonder what happened to the person we married and who is this stranger? Eden’s scene plays out again: “this woman…it’s her fault”, “I was deceived” (Gen 3:12-13). Women in every generation since have been wary of another deceit, and men wary of a companion they cannot control – both certain that if they let their guard down, something will go wrong. And in the insistence on protecting ourselves by hiding from others, it inevitably does.

What’s the solution? Well, society tells us to keep putting on masks, maybe changing the color or texture from time to time in a frantic attempt to be attractive and fresh. It also gives us ways to pursue independent interests and suggests that we can satisfy some of those companionship needs outside of the Designer’s blueprint. The catch-22 spins around and the marketers profit from leading us through our own shortcomings. We try to emulate the airbrush models that hold his/her attention, while scooping up another magazine or TV show to safely partake in other peoples’ lives as though it were a spectator sport, all the while desiring to know and be known fully in a secure relationship with someone who will not leave on a whim nor take abusive advantage.

God tells us to stop hiding, and find our security in Him, confident that He will guard what is entrusted to Him, and fit persons together to their greatest potential. Take as an example the story of Ruth and Boaz, great-grandparents to Israel’s famed King David, or the tale of Esther, who through circumstances became Queen of Persia and was in the unique position of opportunity to save the Jewish people from genocide. History is full of such pairings that seem to have happened serendipitously, and worked out to great advantage to the couple and/or society as a whole. God has the best view of each life, and knows when & how to best combine two. Go about your days, be real with yourself and others, and trust Him who knows you inside & out.