We are eight years in.
We’ve been angry with each other, and sometimes we’ve sat in silence watching our flaws spiral our sense of closeness into a small and distant thing.
But in the best of times, there is tenderness, and the softness that comes from being seen. Yesterday he was startled to notice the beginnings of wrinkles around my eyes, and we both smiled. I was ready for him to make a comment about time or parenthood, but then he said — “You’re beautiful.” I would have laughed at these fine creases of the years with him, but he was so sincere that I let his words steep.
I sometimes have difficulty fathoming, since there is neither giving nor receiving of marriage in heaven, what we will be like in our eternal home. Surely we could not forget these years – these days when the best of what I experience with Y gives me a deeper and greater glimpse into the love that is possible with God?
I don’t know what it will be like there. But here, in this time, I marvel at how God has placed among humanity a way to know intimacy, to touch upon it, to roam its rich and continuous pathways, so that ordinary men and ordinary women can taste something pure and selfless and refining: Love in compact doses. Something to teach us about the Real Thing which we do not have the appetite to fully taste yet.
Some of us will lose ourselves in these doses. For some this will be all: a celebrated story of love that can no longer be retrieved except by a yearning memory after it closes in death or divorce, or fades through the many kinds of long goodbyes.
I can’t picture how life would wind on if one of us leaves before we are ready. (How often are people truly ready?) But it will happen someday, and as I turn Y’s hand to see the wedding band, I think of the heartbreaking beauty of God’s mercy.
Our unions are fleeting, not because God wants to taunt us, but because these are pinpricks of a Light shining behind a sheet that currently hides eternal life from our eyes. In the loveliest moments that I want to preserve, I am the slum child happily playing with mudpies, gleefully oblivious to any imaginings of a gorgeous and distant seashore (Lewis). But the mudpies do not last forever, and even the best and most glorious of them would be cold solace for an eternity dominated by remembrances.
I am grateful that God will not leave us forever with only the analogy of His intimacy and love.
When the final day dawns and the sheet of Time falls, we who are now married will no longer be wives and husbands. Some end, whatever it may be, will have closed the period of our vows to another.
And in what I find to be a breathtaking mercy, our memories will no longer hold us captive.
We will never again fear the ravages of age, or accident, or disease, or memory loss. We will never again be confined to bittersweetness. We will taste fully of joy and our souls will be able to handle it; we will know intimacy with Love Himself in perfection, and there will be no fear of anything ever again to mar it. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more crying or mourning or pain. Never again will anything pepper or poison our closeness with Him. And in that endless age, there will no longer be any need for even the relationship of a husband and wife to express the reach of love.
We who are now single, widowed, divorced, married and struggling, married and exhilarated:
We will have the Real Thing.
I can’t fully grasp even half of what all of that means, what things will be like. I only know that they will be far beyond what they are now, and that is enough to still both the human part of me that cherishes this marriage and the soul that uncertainly extends its hands outward to eternity.
So come, Lord Jesus. Unfold Your story, and walk us home.
Behold! We are not bound for ever to the circles of this world,
and beyond them is more than memory.
– Aragorn to Arwen, The Lord of the Rings
This post is part of a 31 day series about Loving God as an Introvert.