Beauty, Loneliness, & Eternity

I never feel more lonely than when I’m surrounded by absolute breathtaking beauty such as gazing at the sunset over the Sonoran Desert from the top Mount Lemmon. Beauty has a way of reminding us of the Eden that we have never known but somehow always knew we were meant for.

“Every experience of beauty points to eternity.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar

I know it’s not as lovely as hearing it in person, but if you’ve never heard the haunting, melancholy wail of a loon, please listen to this video clip.

Laying awake at night in the cabin on Bear Lake in Waterford, Maine where I spent every summer with my family, I would be startled by this long, wistful howl that awakened a mournful longing within me. Sometimes the beauty was so great it stirred me to tears and made me feel desperately lonely.

A deep pang of painful yearning similar to my experience in Maine has been pulling on my heartstrings as of late. I could not name the empty place inside me until I picked up the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, a birthday present from my sister.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

-Ann Voskamp

Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been feeling. Instead of being thankful for all I’ve been blessed with, I start to believe the serpent’s hissing lie whispering in my ear that God must not love me enough because He’s withholding good things from me. I try to fill the emptiness by putting on my dancing shoes as often as possible, devouring poetry, and crafting pretty things but always, always I feel the ache.

It’s not really my fault though, is it? The gaping hole in my soul will always be there until I am restored to glory and present with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We were never meant for this dark, lonely world. We were created for a loving relationship with God.

Strangely enough, there is one person with whom I feel at peace. One person who makes the hole seem less cavernous. When I am in his presence, the hollowness melts away and I feel safe and able to rest. His company is inviting, nourishing, and comforting. I never want to say “good bye” but I am not allowed to be with him forever. It seems unfair that God would tease me with everything I’ve always wanted so close I could touch it but hold it just out of my grasp.

I think the grief I feel over this is natural and healthy. The sadness I feel because I am alone is due to living in a sinful, broken world where people don’t keep their vows and abandon their spouses. The sadness I feel because I am unwanted and rejected means I know my worth.

The wound of grief says, “This is not the way life is supposed to be. You were created to be dearly loved and cherished. You were never meant to be alone.” And the beauty in the world points me to hope. The loon’s cry sings, “There is still beauty in this lonely world.” It is an echo of what once was before sin spoiled its perfection. It is a mere shadow of the glorious beauty that will one day be revealed to us when Christ returns for His bride.

I am looking forward to that marvelous day.

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Remembering a Special Day

“Your wedding day is still one of my most cherished memories,” whispered my best friend Anna who was a radiant bridesmaid on that special day five years ago. “The fact that he left you doesn’t make that beautiful day any less sacred or meaningful.” (That sweet lady always cheers me up no matter how low I am feeling.)

Anna and I on the Happiest Day of My Life

Anna and I on the Happiest Day of My Life

On this particular evening, I had begun to regret the day I ever said “I do.” My wedding day was once the best day of my life and I was beginning to feel guilty that I still thought of it that way, circumstances being what they are. “If it’s inevitably going to end in a divorce, then wouldn’t that make my marriage a mistake?” I wondered out loud. “Is it wrong to keep those Facebook wedding albums public? Is that precious picture of me smiling ear to ear with my sisters after the ceremony somehow tainted now and better preserved in a private scrapbook rather than displayed in a pretty pink frame on my buffet table?”

I felt angry at myself for not having been able to see red flags that this marriage was not going to last. All the expenses to make June 7th, 2009 the most incredibly amazing and unforgettable day of our lives were pretty much kicking me in the stomach like a huge waste of money. My once gorgeous, white wedding gown is now yellowing with age and collecting dust in my childhood closet… it feels less and less to me like the flowy, satin raiment of a virgin queen bestowing her beloved king with the treasured gift of her everlasting commitment and more like the gown I wore on the last day of my purity I can never get back.

I wish I could write a happily ever after ending for this entry like my husband and I are now living out the purpose God has intended for us, but that would not be accurate. Too many times I fantasized ways out of my destructive marriage… the sudden, unexpected death of one of us, for instance, because I was slowly dying each day and death was better than abandoning the one I promised to love, honor, and respect “until death do us part.”

The very few people I told about the domestic violence asked me, “Why don’t you just leave him? One of these days he’s going to go too far; you need to protect yourself.” I can’t pretend I didn’t think about it. I had an emergency escape plan in place just in case I needed it, but I prayed it would never come to that. I was going to be faithful and loving ’til death do us part, even if I died trying, so help me God.

Just as Christ washed his disciples' feet (John 13:5) my husband and I promised to serve one another. I truly meant this with all my soul.

Just as Christ washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:5) my husband and I promised to serve one another. I truly meant this symbolism with all my soul.

I’m in a better place now. Tragic though my story is, it is also a story of hope. I no longer pine for a way out or desperately cry out to God for some kind of miracle. His ways are above my ways and while I don’t understand them, I know His will is good. Now I look forward to the future, forgetting the former things. I’m done dwelling on the past. I am making a way in the wilderness and straining toward what is ahead. (Isaiah 43:18-19, Philippians 3:13)

If you are struggling in a difficult matrimony, please don’t ever believe the lie that your wedding day was a mistake. If you truly meant those vows with all your heart that day, they are just as real and valid today as they were then. If he’s told you, “I regret the day I married you,” that doesn’t mean you have to regret marrying him. I chose to love my husband for better or worse within God’s Divine Providence. I committed my marriage to Jesus Christ and tried my absolute best to make my relationship honor God. He could have disallowed it if He intended, but I’m convinced everything happens for a reason.

If you are grieving over the death of your marriage, please remember that your pictures and memories of that special day are still just as precious and it’s okay to feel warm and happy when remembering that day you put so much time, energy, and money into making memorable.

I still look back on my wedding day fondly, even though now my memories are tinged with an edge of bitter-sweetness.