UPDATE: Please read this post first, it will explain quite a lot. Note: Some people have, erroneously, read this post as if to suggest that I support the courtship movement that has attempted to replace dating with a "more Christian" model for relationships. Far from it. While I understand that some people have found this model useful, I hope they continue to recognize that it is by no means universal or necessarily more Christian. I'm pretty into normal, regular dating. (You can see some of the posts I've written after this and my guest post over at Ally Spott's blog on July 12 for confirmation.) Just wanted to make that clear first and foremost. Cool? Cool. As always, thank you for reading.
To my future wife--
I thought about writing you this a few weeks ago, when I heard that Southwestern Seminary was now providing an option for young women to concentrate in homemaking for their bachelor degree. Then Donald Miller came under fire for writing a post about the qualities his fiancée had prayed for to be in her husband. Then last week I found Lauren's amazing post about girls and dating, followed by Max's equally amazing post about guys and dating. (I know you read them and we talk about their posts a lot, but bear with me, there's purpose in this.) Then I saw a commercial for Christianmingle.com, which is apparently a Christian singles website. I wouldn't have paid any attention to it, but the reassuring voiceover told me "God is telling you it's your time to act." That's hard to argue with. God said so, and all. Since then, I haven't been able to get this post out of my head, this open letter to you. I'm not sure why, but it needs to be written, so here it goes.
First of all, you are breathtakingly beautiful. Your eyes have held my soul more than once, and I can't really explain how excited I get every time you smile. But I've told you before how attractive you are, I just hope you've heard less about how wonderful your body is and more about how awestruck I am that the Creator wove together you, this woman of a beauty that begins first in her soul and then it radiates outs, saturating her flesh and then pushing farther still, broad and full, so that someone would have to be a fool to not want to be around you all the time.
And you let me be. I don't get it. I don't think I ever will.
I love that you have dreams. I love that before we got married you wanted to be things and you still want to be them. You laughed when I joked that you should go get a degree in homemaking, because we both knew that your passion was so abundant, your talent so vast, that to try and contain you in something so stringent would only result in you leading a peaceful revolution and exodus out of that place. But you, being more gracious than I am, reminded me that for some girls that's what they want and God uses them just as much, sometimes more so. But that's not you and your smile. The way your eyes grin always gives that away. You want real things, realer things, and you want me with you when you find them. So you'll teach or dance or adventure, keeping one ear to the earth to hear the passing footsteps of God and one ear to my heart to hear the pushes He may be placing on me. Somehow you help make it all make sense. I don't tell you enough how much I am in love with the vastness of your faith. I always seem to forget to say that out loud. But I watch you, the way you pray when you think you're alone, when I stop in a doorway just long enough to see you undisturbed, in love with God in ways you could never be with me. I'm thankful. I'm awed every time.
I love your art, even though you always seem to be a bit unsure of it. It's funny, because you say the same things to me all the time about mine, but somehow neither of us ever seem to really listen. Except when we focus, when we demand the attention, then we know. We draw the circle together, we make our home at the end of the world, and we, our art, our praise, our worship, bring the day to its proper close. Sometimes with the Prayer Book, sometimes with novels. Sometimes other things. Once we were both so tired that we fell asleep on the wood floor. When we woke up in the middle of the night, bemoaning our lot, I muttered something about it being sacramental and you were good enough to laugh. It wasn't actually funny, but you're good enough to laugh.
Your laughter is like the voice of God singing creation into being. I don't understand the way you love Him. I want to, because the more I do the better I become, the more my talent seems to honor and glorify Him. You point me back to Center more often than I can remember, sometimes with a laugh, sometimes quietly, there were a few times you yelled. But you had a right to. I wasn't at my best and it snapped me back, even if it took me awhile to admit it. Each time, your eyes say more than your words ever do, which is saying a lot, because I keep everything you have ever said as close to me as I can, wrapping words like cloth around me, defense against the cold when the art simply doesn't flow or when the world beyond us, beyond this home we keep constructing from old things and new things and poetry, is that dread world we have laid awake more than once discussing, sometimes through tears. Each time, each beat of your heart, it's like a whisper of the Divine.
You stumble, you fall. You have had some pretty bad days. Yet each bad day still is tinged by a love for the Creator that is there even when you don't feel like it is. It's why I can't help but smile at you, sometimes when it's the worst time for me to smile. You know I laugh when I'm not supposed to. Being madly in love with you doesn't make this any easier. You get serious, I smile, we go from there. Because with each annoyance, with each sigh, with each struggle, there He is in your eyes. There's that quiet, still voice reminding me that you're not only worth it, I have been entrusted a gift too good for me, yet perfect for me. Complete and becoming complete all at the same time.
I love that you expect us to have dinner parties. We have a rhythm in the kitchen, which is strange since I rarely can cook with someone else. You're kind enough to flatter me when I experiment, but good enough to be honest when something just isn't right. In tandem we move, sometimes both a little too concerned with the presentation and timeliness for our own good, but we have both confessed a handful of times to being friends with people who don't care about those things and they we invite over the most, because they teach us (well, me) to be more gracious and they teach us (well, you) to let go a bit. When they're all gone and we put on music and wash dishes, even if it is two in the morning by that point, I wouldn't trade that moment for anything. Just a few more minutes.
I love that our home is a treasure trove of an adventured life, even now. Books, icons, paintings. Everything is a sign pointing back to the One in some way. You see it, sometimes better than I do, and you remind me of it through simple things, things you say that you think are the most obvious truths. They aren't. They're treasures. I don't understand it. I'm glad I don't. Enjoying it is too good.
You laughed the first time I said I wanted twelve kids. What you didn't suspect was that by starting you high, it was easier to negotiate down to a large but reasonable number. Truth be told, I don't really care how many we have or if we're able to do it on our own. God will give us what He will give. Children are children and they are in desperate need of love. I want to adopt, desperately, but we'll do that in the middle--or as best we can--so that they don't feel like they were leftovers. They'll be incorporated, completely, beloved as our own because they are. They will be woven into our bones spiritually, linked to us as we try and be good parents. Most of what our parents did worked, at least for us, so we're fortunate to have a handful of wisdom to draw on. But I'm going to apologize now that when the baby, especially the first baby, starts crying at two in the morning, I will forget wisdom as soon as my eyes open. My apologies now for what I will likely say out loud and my initial resistance to get up. (That will likely not be the only time I have to apologize for that.)
But I want to have kids with you, because I want sons and daughters to be raised by and learn from a woman like you. I want more of you in the world. It would help a lot of things.
I'm sorry that I can be obstinate and a bit extreme. I'm sorry that I rant about theology and about how everything is spiritual sometimes. I'm sorry that I sometimes let my failings as a man stand in the way of honoring you as the woman you are. I'm sorry that before we met I didn't make perfect choices that would show you the worth you deserve. I'm sorry that I forgot that one really important thing I was supposed to do that one time, which I obviously still can't remember.
And I'm sorry I will never be able to tell you exactly how much I love you, but I'm sure going to spend the rest of my life trying to be as creative as possible in letting you know it.
Remember that time you told me to just shut-up and you sort of smiled while you said it, then kissed me? I hold that memory pretty close to my heart.
I promise to never talk to you during a movie in a theater, because you know I can't stand when people do that. I promise to hold the door for you. I promise to fail you enough times that you'll need to be loved first by God before you can ever be loved by me, but I promise to work till I wither away to make those times less and less so that you can see more of Him in me. I promise to keep your secrets. I promise to tell our children how wonderful you are, especially when you're not around. I promise to surprise you on a regular basis, though this can be good or bad. I promise to be quiet when you need me to be, especially when you tell me that what you need for me to do is listen. I promise to take you on adventures, to dance with you when you want to dance, and to love you. All of you. I promise to know that love doesn't mean happiness, that it doesn't mean easy, and that it doesn't mean romantic. Not all the time. I promise to know that love means this thing that we seem to make work because both of us try to love Him first, imperfect as that is, so we can imperfectly turn to love each other.
And lastly, I want you to know that you are prayed for.
The truth is, I have no idea who you are. It's possible you're reading this right now. It's possible that you're in China serving in a house church, cut off from the Internet. The above scenes are fabrications. They are examples, possibilities, but they aren't real, not real the way you really are. So I don't dwell on them. These are my deep desires, my hopes, but I know that you have yours, too. You have your snippets, your scenes that float across your mind from time to time. I have more than these, so do you. So I pray for you.
I pray that your heart is protected. I pray that you are well, happy, laughing often. I pray that you're looked after, that you haven't suffered much heartbreak, but that if you have you've found serious comfort. I pray for your friends, your family. I pray for the whole of your person, you fiercely beautiful, awesomely made woman.
Because I don't know when I will meet you, if I already have, but I know that I've waited for you and you've waited for me, and without a lot of romantic over-sentimitality forced upon that, I trust that one day, crossing a street against the light in the rain or through a Twitter DM or from a postcard or a carrier pigeon, we're going to find each other and, at some point, we'll know.
Until then--and I'm ok with this taking awhile--thanks for the potential memories.
I'm going to be crazy mad in love with you,