Yesterday I spent the day outside with my family. My older daughter’s cheeks and mine are still pink from the sun, and her sweaty clothes have been added to the never-ending pile in the laundry room. Today, we won’t see the sun. I’m curled up in a bed in a dark room under heaps of heavy blankets, feeding a 16-pound replica of myself (without hair). Within the next few hours, the raindrops we hear falling outside will turn to ice. Hell is freezing over–my husband’s best friend is getting married today.
Most of the time I refer to him as my brother. He actually is a relative of my husband’s, and they grew up together. The blood relationship is a complicated one to explain (ever heard the song “I Am My Own Grandpa”? It’s kind of like that)–but it’s irrelevant. Even if they didn’t share blood, they would be brothers. It was initially difficult for me to find favor with this brother-friend. He wrote me a long letter after my husband and I fell in love, explaining how he was having a hard time with my ever-increasing real estate in my husband’s heart. He wrote with love, and I wrote back with love. I knew those words had been hard to write. I was also annoyed–he lived in the same city as my husband, and I lived two states away. How bad could it really be? Back in the days when cell phones had limited minutes (at least when your parents are footing the bill), I certainly wasn’t taking up all of his time. I told my then-boyfriend to make a conscious effort to throw his friend an extra bone every now and then, at least until he got used to our new relationship. With the letters, the air between us had cleared somewhat, and our friendship started to grow. We began to see each other as assets to a man we both loved in different ways. I am so blessed to call him my brother, and I am so thankful for the woman who won his heart. I think he would laugh if I mentioned those letters to him today–he understands now what it’s like to love one woman over all others…
…all others except one. He is a Christian, so his bride will always take second place. His future children will take third, followed by his extended family and close friends, his profession, and the rest of the others. She will also give him second place in her life. I noticed in last night’s rehearsal that she even modified the words to the song she will walk down the aisle to, cutting out a line that made her love for her groom sound stronger than a jealous God would allow.
Oh, I struggled with this. For me, people are just so easy to love. I think I have the love capacity of at least ten others packaged into one little body that can barely contain it all. It overflows in the many ways I express affection (most often through words). At the end of the day, my prayer of confession has often been this: Forgive me, Jesus–today I loved others more than I loved you. Idolatry. The idolatry escalated when my husband entered the picture, to the point where we almost broke up because our focus on each other was growing increasingly sharp while our eternal First Love faded into a blurry background.
As I watched last night’s rehearsal and looked at my husband standing there as Best Man, I remembered my own wedding night. I remembered how the date couldn’t even be set until the man I loved trusted that I didn’t love him too much. I remembered saving sex for marriage, because that’s what Christians do. I remembered the covenant made between the two of us and God–that our marriage was an earthly reflection of the covenant between Christ and the Church. I remember walking down an aisle toward him and then vowing to love him second for the rest of my life.
I remember hearing of his doubts months later and wondering if I could love him at all. I remember feeling cheated out of the spiritual leadership he had promised me. I remember wishing I could break my own vows.
And I want a re-do. I want to forget my vows about the symbolism of marriage, and I want to honor my husband by acknowledging what our marriage really is. It’s a covenant between us that stands on its own–not a shadow of something greater.
For years I have loved another more than I love you. When you chose to love me first instead of Him, I wondered whether or not you were worth loving at all. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the mornings that I left you alone in our bed so I could spend time with Him.
I’m sorry for expecting that at least 10% of the money you earned would be given to Him.
I’m sorry for setting a goal for myself to think of Him more than I think of you.
I’m sorry for writing Him love letters that I never wrote to you.
I’m sorry for seeing every wonderful thing you brought to my life as a mere dim reflection of something more wonderful with Him.
I’m tired of writing love letters to Him–He never writes back. I’m tired of longing for His touch when yours somehow makes me feel heat and chills at the same time. I’m tired of longing to hear His voice when yours has been there all along, asking me to stay despite the fact that you loved me first when I wanted to be second. I’m tired of waiting for Him. It has been thousands of years and there’s still no sign of Him. The oil in my lamp has burned out. I don’t even believe He exists, much less that He is coming to receive His Church with a wedding banquet.
What if the love between a man and his bride is the greatest love a human will ever know? What if making love to you is the greatest possible intimacy I could experience? What if being known by you is the fullest way I will ever be known? What secrets have I told only to Him? What part of my heart do you still hope to win? What if all that I share with you is not a dim reflection, but the most dazzling light?
What if I’m so intent on seeing something beyond it that I miss it altogether?
I look to you as an anchor. The waters around me are ever-changing, but you have always been the same in your desire for truth and commitment to reason. You steady me; you would not let me be swept away by religion or emotion. You would not let me become lost in devastating currents of circumstance. This affectable vessel is safest when tied to you.
So tied to you I will remain. No more adultery with an imaginary God. It’s over. It’s finally over. I am yours and only yours until death parts us.