Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Letter to ?: A Note to My Future Wife

Today is St. Valentine’s Day, a day of all things Cupid (iconography that I find somewhat ironic considering the life and death of the real St. Valentine. See my post on the topic). I decided a couple days ago to share some of my transparent thoughts today. This is not for the sake of pity or to garner attention. I share these thoughts because I know that I am not alone in them. I know that, as much as some of us may push it down or choose to joke about it, there is a sense of loneliness that can threaten to creep upon us as the 14th approaches. Today, I share my thoughts in hopes that you will be encouraged or, at the very least, know that you are not alone. In that intent I share with you, “A Letter to ?” (pronounced “question mark”).

My Dear ?,

Hello! I hope this letter finds you well. It’s always struck me as a great irony that I have spent many a night writing to you, many a day thinking about you, and many an hour praying for and about you in light of the fact that I don’t know your name. I suppose it’s humorous that I’ve referred to you as ? for so many years. Born during a sleepover with my dear best friend many eons ago, ? serves as a placeholder for your name until I know otherwise. ?, the name after which I have pined with no name after which to pine. ?, the name for whom I have prayed many a prayer without knowing quite what to pray. ?, the simple word that sits on my heart as a reminder of a girl I have yet to meet. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you are the young woman who I will one day marry.

I’ve always found it interesting that we long for a perfect home we’ve never known. This desire will one day, for the Christian, be realized in Heaven. In a similar manner, I miss you, a girl I’ve never known. I look forward to the day when I no longer have need for a placeholder, the day when I can talk with you in person, write your name on dozens of sappy letters that I will inevitably write, and introduce you to my friends and family members. In the meantime, I wait from afar, satiating myself with the knowledge that I will one day meet you. But that waiting includes a degree of loneliness. Sure, I may not show it on the outside, or admit its details to any but those who I trust the most, but I miss you in a profound manner that I cannot quite verbalize (a few pieces of classical music come close). I do miss you, perhaps to my shame as I am learning to be satisfied with where God has me now, perhaps to my credit as I can identify and minister to those with similar feelings.

Oh, my dear ?, within your placeholder my deepest hopes and fears are bound up. I look forward to being a husband and father. I look forward to having a best friend like no other. I look forward to having someone with whom to share every facet of life, the notable and the mundane. However, I also have fears and doubts. Will you understand me? Will I ever find someone to appreciate the sometimes bizarre tidbits of intellectual trivium that captivate my imagination and spark my insatiable curiosity? Will you have the patience to tolerate my love of people and counterbalancing introversion? What will our story be like? How will we deal with the conflict and misunderstandings that inevitable arise from intimacy between two flawed human beings? I know you won’t be perfect and I am deeply aware if my own imperfections. However, even as I look forward to how God will craft our story, I fear the trials that it will invariably include.

But (I love that word! But signals a change of trajectory for a text! “But” is a plot twist word). But above all my hopes and fears, above all my dreams and desires, above my strange mutual fear and love of adventure, one truth remains at the forefront of my mind: I am not responsible for my story. This abdication of authorial authority may appear appalling for some. It, understandably, seems disempowering and the opposite of our Western ideal of existentially driven individual agency. However, to me, it is one of the most beautiful concepts of all time. Only a Perfect Penman can narrate a holy romance. God is writing our story, not me and not you. Even as I fear for the future, I remember Whom I serve.

?, I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what trials are coming down the road, what temptations await to trip me up, what mistakes I will make. However, beyond the noise and confusion of my own mind, I have a deep and abiding trust in God. It is God who has piloted my life thus far and it is God who will continue to guide, support, and protect me. I recall the words of the most famous hymn of all, “‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Even as I feel lonely and anxious on this St. Valentine’s Day, I feel great peace in being in the hands of the Father. Come what may, I know we will make it through.

My strength is weak. I dare not place my trust in it. My heart is fickle. I cannot trust it. My mind overthinks everything and jumps from topic to topic. I won’t trust it. God alone is all powerful. God alone is constant. God alone is rational. In Him will I put my trust. God died for me and you. I owe Him my life. God loves us dearly. He will not write our story awry. God is the anchor in the storm. He will help us through the trials that lay ahead.

So, ?, on this Valentine’s Day, I place my trust in God. Yes, I am still anxious and lonely. Yes, I have a lot of growing to do. Thankfully, I’m not the one with the pen. One day, ?, you might read this. One day we will look back on this letter and smile. For now, to those who are in a similar state as I, I hope this simple letter serves to encourage you. The future is exciting and scary. The present may be lonesome. The past may be painful. The only solid rock in this tempestuous temporal sea of tumultuous feelings is the Divine Writer, God almighty. Place your hopes and dreams, your anxieties and fears, your loneliness and heartaches on Him, the eternal God beyond time itself. You might even consider writing a letter to your ?.

With deep love, sincere devotion, and hope for the adventure to come, your future husband,

James Winfield Ware

“’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.”

- John Newton

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Feel free to comment! One of the reasons I blog is to interact with my readers. Don't hesitate to leave your thoughts or contact me with any comments, questions, or concerns. - James