Becoming a Liberal Christian IV: Unforced Rhythms of Grace

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It’s taken me a while to finish up this blog series, so bear with me here. If you want to be reminded of previous blog posts, check out I, II, and III. Also, I was planning another blog post to be IV, but the writing spirit wasn’t moving me, so here is what I have to say next.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Chronicles of Narnia regarding Aslan (a Jesus-like figure):

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

I have heard it said that Jesus came to disturb the comforted and comfort the disturbed. Walking with Jesus is not a walk through lilacs, unicorns, and lollipops, nor is it walking on egg shells to appease a God with his eyes narrowed, finger outstretched, and ready to strike people down who don’t do (a politically conservative understanding) of his will.

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When I Miss You….

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When I miss you… I don’t want to remember just the times when you held me in a long embrace and told me you loved me; but also the times when you shut me out of your world, leaving me deep in shame, wondering, “What did I do wrong?”

When I miss you… I don’t want to remember only the times you told me you were ready for a long-term commitment. I want to recall the memory of you asking to look at rings and casually bringing up your doubts as to whether you wanted to marry me, words that broke my heart.

When I miss you… I don’t want to remember only the moments when I felt alive with you; I want to remember your harsh, judgmental words and resentments, as I was left a crumpling heap on the floor. I want to remember how your cruel insults left me feeling.

When I miss you… I don’t want to remember the fleeting fun times we had together in isolation of the times I walked on egg shells to spare you from anxiety, stress, and talk of commitment.

When I miss you… I want to remember that I was too much for you– too much passion, energy, and emotion. I want to remember how overwhelmed and stressed you felt when I acted like me… so I learned to push myself to the side and pretend to be the person you wanted me to be.

When I miss you… I want to remember your lies and manipulations. I want to remember my realization that to be with you, I would have to live with an emotionally barren, unfulfilling relationship because you didn’t know how to affirm or care for me.

When I miss you… I want to remember the times I cried and screamed into my pillow about how I wish you could be different. I want to remember the heartbreak and reality of on-again, off-again, and on, and on, and on. How I felt tepid, lukewarm in your eyes; a back up option; the person you could fall back on when you were lonely.

When I miss you… I want to remember what I deserve: an emotionally stable, warm, welcoming, compassionate, loving, and selfless man who will laugh at my absurd humor and kiss me just for being me. I don’t want to have to pretend, censor, and shield anyone from the truth of who I am, nor do I want to feel physically objectified.

When I miss you… I don’t want to just remember that I believed you were “The One.” I want to draw on the reality that “The One” would not treat me like you did. “The One” would not disconnect and withdraw when life got hard. “The One” would fight for me and love me through it all. You were someone I once loved, but that goes no further. You are my past, but not my future.

When I miss you… I want to remember that I miss the idea of you rather than you. I loved the person I thought you were, rather the person you ended up being. Even when I was convinced that you had changed, I want to remember the realization that you hadn’t.

When I miss you… I will honor that feeling, but I will not dwell in it, because you were not and never will be “The One,” even if I believed that for a while.

 

Almost Lover

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As a girl, I never fantasized about my wedding because I believed I would never have one: because at my core, I was unlovable. After years of “binge dating” and a string of semi-serious relationships as a young adult, I found that no guy was ever good enough. Little things would bother me after a while, and I would shut myself away and go back to being alone.

On a string of platonic, unmemorable dates from guys I met online, I agreed to go out with a guy whose first email to me included the subject line, “I also like cheese.” I thought it was funny. (However, the enigma remains: why I would put the fact that I like cheese on my dating site profile? Whatever). I decided he was worth a coffee date because let’s be honest, cheese is pretty great. So on a Saturday afternoon in May two years ago, I met up with this guy, my expectations way low.

I knew there was something special about Boy on our first date. We had crazy chemistry that words could not describe. Things happened fast. Before I knew it, Colbie Caillat songs became my Spotify staples. I fell hard, and I fell fast.

I am not a spontaneous person. I am more of a “let’s plan everything 6 months in advance” type of person. But with Boy, things were different. I didn’t cling to my 10 PM bedtime. In fact, we stayed out all hours of the night. We kissed in the rain and in restaurants… and well, everywhere. We were infatuated and passionate, in the most cliche, characteristic sense of the word.

This is not me, I kept thinking. I don’t fall for people like this. I’m not this person.

I was not “that person” who would grab my boyfriend’s hand and giggle like a 13-year-old at his jokes.

But with Boy, I was that person. I was that happy, touchy, worry-free blushing girl. I would have dropped everything and gone somewhere with him. I was head over heels, mad, drunk in love. It was “that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, world series kind of love.”

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By our second date, I had no doubts that I would end up marrying Boy. I let him into all crevices of my being, and I thought he was letting me into his as well.

Due to childhood Disney indoctrination, I knew how this story was supposed to go. Boy and Girl meet. Boy and Girl fall in love. Boy and Girl face difficult circumstances, but they persevere because they are so in love. Boy and Girl live happily ever after.

But this Boy and this Girl did not live happily ever after.

In the same whirlwind that started our romance, the relationship I had with Boy ended suddenly and painfully. I was left reeling with the vacancy of passion and love that had become a welcome refuge.

I didn’t know how much I wanted love until I had it. Then when it was gone, I didn’t know how much I would miss it. Or how much it would physically hurt to have this relationship die. There was a void in my heart. I wanted love. I wanted him… or did I? I didn’t know what I wanted anymore.

I wrote this about a year ago:

“Boy came into my life, and he changed my world upside down. I loved him for a short time, but I loved hard. Is it better to have loved and lost, as the old saying goes, or is it better not to get a taste of this really good, beautiful thing because of the yearning that follows?”

When things ended with Boy, I wondered: Maybe that is it. Maybe this is my shot and happiness and love, and it’s over now. Perhaps I’ll never love again. We are never guaranteed love. I went on dates with other guys, but they were mindless and disappointing.

I never stopped thinking about Boy. I sent him drunk texts at weddings. I saw the beauty of the waves crashing on the Pacific Coast Highway and told him I still wanted him. Once I even texted him in the bathroom during a bad date.

And yet the stars didn’t align for us.

But the stars did align, two years later, and Boy came back into my life.

I thought we were more seasoned and mature. We talked about feelings and dreams and hopes and wishes. We set boundaries, and I thought the old issues that broke us apart would make us stronger.

I looked into his eyes, and I wondered: Is this it? How does someone know if a person is “The One”? Would our relationship be doomed because of the past?

As it turns out, the love that came back from the dead didn’t stay alive. Soon enough, our old issues resurfaced, and instead of reading the writing on the wall, I chose to ignore it and make new memories.

I wanted it to work. I fully invested in the relationship and embraced the unknown. But then, in a series of events that I cannot recount for boundaries and privacy, it was no longer healthy for either of us to remain in the relationship.

If I’m being honest, I feel like such an idiot.

Why didn’t I learn from my past mistakes? Why would I have put myself out there… again… with the same person… and expect different results?

And yet, I couldn’t have done it another way.

Love is not guaranteed, and sometimes love hurts and dies. But I know, deep down, that the struggle for love is innately human and the most worthwhile goal in life. Even though my self-protective side screams for me to be alone and safe, I know I must keep pursuing what I’ve always wanted: love.

I needed to know (again… and again… and again) what could have been, and now, I must move on with my life.

My inner voice tells me, Nobody could ever love you, not like this. You’re too messed up, and you ruined your one chance of love.

But then there is a part of me that wonders…

Maybe there will be fireworks again, and this time it will last.

Maybe someone will be able to say, “I want you and I choose you every day, and I will do that for the rest of our lives.

Maybe someone will love me with all of my faults and think, “How can I best express love to this girl?”

As I read in an article earlier this week: “If you must want; wait to be chosen every day, wait to be reminded that you are special, wait to be loved in the way that you constantly love, wait to be taken seriously and wait for someone who doesn’t keep you waiting, because you know that you deserve better than waiting around for someone to make up their mind.”

I was struck to the core with grief, but I’m also realistic enough to know when something shouldn’t be.

So in the words of a favorite song:

Goodbye, my almost lover
Goodbye, my hopeless dream
I’m trying not to think about you
Can’t you just let me be?
So long, my luckless romance
My back is turned on you
I should’ve known you’d bring me heartache
Almost lovers always do