Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

#13: I’ll Never Leave

“I’ll keep your secrets; I’ll hold your ground
And when the darkness starts to fall I’ll be around;
There waiting when dreams are fading
And friends are distant and few
Know at that moment I’ll be there with you.

I’ll be around when there’s no reason left to carry on
And every dream you’ve ever had is gone
And the dark is deep and black without a sound
And every star has been dragged to the ground
Know at that moment I will be around.”

I once heard a Christian marriage counselor tell men that reminding their wives they will never leave means a great deal to them. I remember thinking even at the time: “Really?”

How could you ever think I would leave? Once we’re married? Once you’re wearing my wedding ring, and once we’ve vowed our eternal pledge of service and devotion?

Where would I even have to go?

I don’t make many promises. When I make them, I keep them. Though I don’t yet know you, I’ll make this one to you now: I’ll never leave you.

Not though disease, trials, afflictions or hardships come upon us will I leave you.

Should feelings even somehow conspire to cheat the heart, that will not matter. My vow to you is solemn, and oh my dear, it’s one that I uphold even now before it is spoken. My deeds confirm my words.

When I promise to love you until death parts us, I mean that even if the day comes when we somehow don’t like each other very much (and if the centuries of lovers gone before hold any truth, that moment will come), the cold dark fingers of death will have to seize me by the throat and forcefully remove my soul from this earth before I am willingly parted from you.

If comes the day comes when your life is in danger, I will lay mine down willingly in your stead if I am able. But I confess, this is a selfish decision. I think I would rather choose death to save your life than choose a life without you in it.

I hope to earn your trust in me so richly and completely that if I wrapped my arms around you and reminded you I’ll never leave, it would startle you as greatly as if I promised you never to poison you. I would rather spend the time telling you the things I will do, not those I won’t do.

So I want you to know, one day I’ll stand before you, our family, our friends and God and make you a promise: “Til Death Do Us Part.” I mean it with all of my heart. As long as there is life in me, I will stay.

I promise.

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Promises | 4 Comments

A Grief Undone

I know it’s hard on both of us to be apart.

But as I turned this idea around in my mind, it suddenly dawned on me: You and I are living our lives like a loss in reverse.

Each of us knows the other is out there somewhere. Each of us feels the emptiness of each other’s absence. Each of us searches for the other and, I dare to hope, each of us is writing letters in preparation for the other.

There’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is, the separation we each feel is worse than death.

In the death of a loved one, when a soul old and full of years releases its feeble grip on this life, the remaining lover has many fading memories to wrap around them in their grief. Gifts, trinkets, souvenirs, artifacts, photographs, songs, movies, letters, an old hat, a half-used bottle of fragrance, all will gild the bitter edges of that grief for years. There will be a lifetime of reminiscence, a thousand nostalgic paths to retread in comfort, and for the believer, the promise of reunion.

In the end, both lovers may retire from this life in contentment that it was lived and spent wisely, that the years counted and that love was not in vain.

You and I haven’t written those memories yet.

In our solitude and separation, we each dwell on a side of death colder than death itself. We lack those memories to linger in our minds and warm them; we mourn what we do not know.

The good news is, though now for a time we’re apart, the day will come when the pain is undone, the heart is thawed and the sad becomes untrue.

Can’t you just imagine how great our joy will be to find each other? At long last, what eternity concealed from us will be revealed; the story and soul of the one we’ve longed for.

Instead of time claiming the life of the one we love, it’s as if time itself returns to us the soul that completes us. In this way, is it not a picture of the first resurrection? Could it be that this is part of the mystical union between Christ and his church? A heart awaiting the reanimation and awakening that comes from being loved?

Of course, our romance could only be an imperfect portrait. But a portrait a thousand times more perfect than the one you and I live now!

I hope this thought gives you comfort, Darling. I hope it turns your thoughts from sorrow to joyful expectation. I know at times the lines between those two wear thin from waiting.

Everything sad may not come untrue. But perhaps – together – everything sad will become less true.

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Anticipation, Loneliness | Leave a comment

#12: To Cherish Your Dreams

What are your dreams, Darling?

No, I mean really. We all have some dreams in common, like being loved, and having someone to support us and stand beside us, and having a family and being a success in life and having friends.

I’m not talking about those dreams.

I mean those silly, foolish little dreams you might have harbored since you were a little girl. That’s what I want to know.

I look forward to that moment when I ask that question, and you smile but look down because you’re pleased I asked and eager to share, but embarrassed to tell me. You’ll know exactly what I mean, and I’ll know as soon as I ask because you won’t be able to hide that smile.

Maybe you’ve tucked away a manuscript of a book you’d like to write. Perhaps you would like to try your hand at an instrument, or singing, or writing a song. Is there some far-away place you’ve always wanted to visit? Some exotic experience or adventure? Something foolish and frivolous, or fancy and opulent? Did you always want to whisk away for a whirlwind weekend of shopping and dining in New York? A Broadway play? (Maybe you’d like to be in a Broadway play!) Have you secretly planned a private island vacation, or a snowy mountain retreat? Do you want to hike Mt. Everest or snorkel an underground cave, or spend a night in an ice hotel?

Maybe it will be something simple and practical, and I’ll just smile and kiss your forehead because your demands are so small.

Maybe I’ll come along and meet them without knowing it, through foot rubs and flowers and hugs.

But come now, every girl has a dream. I can’t wait until, like a little child, you allow me in, draw the curtains and unearth your treasured, secret dreams, quietly laughing even as you admonish me not to.

You’re used to chasing your dreams all alone, aren’t you.

Oh sure, maybe for some of them your family cheers you on or colleagues help, or maybe it’s just a close friend who knows.

But usually it’s just you, isn’t it? Sitting by yourself, pensively contemplating your dreams and wondering if you’ll ever make anything of them, doubting yourself, doubting your dreams, rearranging them, and consoling yourself that at least it’s nice to have them to think about.

But here’s the thing. Your dreams will become my dreams. I’ll make them mine! You’re going to find out for the first time what it’s like to have someone who actually believes them as much as you do. And not just believe in them but fight for them, defend them, champion them, cheer them.

And this may not be some fairy-tale Disney “dreams come true by magic” story either. Dreams take work! Fatigue may be setting in, the weight of the world may be trying to crush them. That’s where I come in! I’ll lift that burden onto my shoulders and carry it. I’ll do everything I can to tame the world, keep the faith, to run down your dreams and make them possible.

I’m going to work for your dreams, my dearest bride, work for them and cherish them. Maybe God doesn’t have in store for them all to be fulfilled. Maybe it won’t be until we’re older. But as long as there is breath to breathe and life to live, there will be dreams. And as long as I’m able, I’ll chase those dreams with you and for you.

I promise.

January 26, 2012 Posted by | Promises | Leave a comment

Time: The Combination to Happiness

Time is such a strange thing.

It’s both an enemy and a friend. It can’t be thwarted, cheated or circumvented. The steps of its terrible and inexorable dance take place completely independent of anything humanity can do to master them.

It’s Time that keeps you and I apart.

Yet, the same methodical grinding of the passing years that keep us apart will one day become the blessed cascade of days that find us together…the days we’ll wake up every morning to face.

I can’t wait for the day when I finally realize it’s you; to decide, whether suddenly or gradually, that you’re the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life.

I can’t wait to take your hand, and hope desperately that your eyes will shine as much as mine when I say “It’s me! I’m here! It’s all going to be okay now! You’ve been waiting all this time, and it hasn’t been in vain! I’ve been waiting too, and now I’m here and you’re here and we’re together, and now, maybe, nothing else will be wrong again.” Of course everything will be wrong again…but how could it ever be as bad as when we weren’t facing it together?

Consistently orbiting in my mind are the unanswered questions. Who are you? What are you? Where are you? These questions hound me as I meet those who contain echoes of you. How can I be so sure someone is – or isn’t – you? Something tells me I will know, because there could only be one. But will I find you alone because you don’t fit with the world, just as I don’t? Will your infectious smile and personality make you to be always be among friends? Will you be quiet and reserved, and I’ll have to draw you out? Or will you be contagiously joyful and uplifting?

The more I go through life, the more I realize how much I’m looking for, how much is trivial, and how much isn’t.

What kills and thrills me is that you’re likely just a few numbers away. I could pick up the phone right this instant and dial a few magical and unknown numbers in the right order and talk to you right now. I could e-mail or text or message you tonight, if only I had a few simpering letters or numbers.

But it would be too soon! You and I have a rendezvous appointed by God, and not before. We can’t circumvent Him or Time.

It drives me mad knowing that as I look up to heaven and pray, He looks down on me, and He sees you at the same time. And every time that happens, I ask Him to love you and comfort you and give you peace – to give you everything I can’t right now.

I can’t wait.

But I will.

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Anticipation | Leave a comment

To The Sister From Another Mother

We’ve known each other for years. Among my friendships, ours is one of the oldest.

The last time I saw you, I hugged you for the first time. Was it me or did you look really happy to receive that hug? But we were never destined for romance, you and I. We were more like brother and sister, and content to be so. We were happy to interact now and again, or grab lunch, commiserate on being lonely.

Remember that one Valentine’s Night, when neither of us had anything to do so I called you up and asked if you wanted to just grab dinner (just friends!) so neither of us would be alone? Or how about the time I tried introducing you to a friend of mine I knew because I thought you might hit it off?

At the end of the day, no matter what other abominable catastrophes took place in life, at least I could remember that somewhere out there was a friend who stood with me against the crowd, who stood on the same principles of purity and chastity and waiting — an island of common ground. I was so proud.

Now you’ve joined the deserters.

I don’t understand. You and I stood for something. We even talked about it. All our friends were taking the wrong turns and making messes of their loves. Your own sister gave birth to an illegitimate child, and I grieve for her that she has ruined the life we all wanted for her.

In our despondency, we had conversations about how difficult it was. How could you abandon me now? I thought you were stronger than that. Did I not look in on you and encourage you from afar? I wanted to protect you. Even though I wasn’t appointed to be your groom, I wanted to see you happy and make sure you were safe. I wanted at least to keep your dragons at bay until someone could take over the task full-time. Now you’ve gone and cuddled with them. What was the point?

I invested time in you as a brother. I wished you joy, and tried to bring you some when you needed it. I couldn’t wait to see you do it right, to show them all it could be done. I couldn’t wait to be in your wedding. I talked you through some hard times, and encouraged you because I know you needed it. “King’s Daughter” I called you, remember?

We even had a half-joking agreement that if we should fail to find love after a few years, we should marry just so we wouldn’t be alone. I guess you shot that all to pieces, didn’t you. I think in my sadness, I would not come to your wedding now if you invited me.

As a brother, I feel like I failed you, even though I did everything I could. I lost you. You lost you. “Nobody’s perfect”? Spare me. That’s an excuse, not an apology. Although, spare me the apology too.

I’ll bet you didn’t know you could break off a piece of my heart that easily, did you. I’ll bet you didn’t didn’t think I cared, didn’t know it would hurt, didn’t know that in abandoning me for the night’s embrace, you would leave me literally trembling. The night I found out, I was shaking and asking God “Why??” I think if you had seen me, you would have been very alarmed indeed.

“It’s no different than any other sin,” you say? God doesn’t count sins as weighing more than others? Perhaps not. But this isn’t like taking a drink, or saying a bad word, though I feared for you as I observed these behaviors taking root in your life. This isn’t stealing a CD or striking a friend in anger, or even a moment of looking in lust. This isn’t a breach of contract, it’s a breach of covenant. It’s a deliberate decision to leave the path of wisdom, to put self and pleasure first before God, before your vows, before your family and friends and church. This is never being able to give your husband yourself wholly and completely on your wedding night. This is never being able to look your daughter in the eye and tell her to follow in your example when she faces temptation.

You’ve forsaken your virtue, your purity. You’ve joined the world.

Oh my sister and friend, of course you can be forgiven. But it will never be the same. Actions have consequences. You’ve proven you aren’t the person I thought you were. You’ve helped the devil believe no one is beyond his reach, and played into his hands. Who knows what consequences the years will bring you? You’re another vessel damaged by steering too near the shoals; a warning to other ships.

Even if I found my Luthien today, and married her tomorrow in perfect marital bliss, a piece of my heart will always ache for what you were…and could have been.

I thought of you again last night. We haven’t talked much since then. Actually, hardly at all. Granted, I’m way busier now, but I think I was the one who initiated most contact anyway. Take away the spring and the lake dries up.

You frighten me with your testament to the power of darkness. I swear, I get a kick and twist in the gut every single time I think of you. I want to forget about you, about everything. You’re probably a little sad and maybe angry, feeling like our friendship was contingent on purity, and that I’ve left you because you fell. I didn’t reject you…you rejected me. You have done what you have done, don’t you dare be angry with me for the fallout! You can’t come back and pretend nothing has happened.

The last thing you should do to a man who is hurting and lonely is leave him. But I guess you had other things on your mind. You cut that tiny golden thread of connection and unity.

You can never read this letter. I know how much it would hurt you. Sometimes, I confess I want you to feel that pain. I have avoided that fire because my Father told me to, but also because He warned me of the pain. I would not see others so lightly escape the pain that I have labored to avoid.

I have asked God to forgive me of my unforgiving attitude toward you. Maybe something will change. In the meantime, you have galvanized my fierce determination never to turn out like you.

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Other Letters, Purity | 2 Comments

#11: The Little Things

“I wanna stand out in a crowd for you; a man among men.
I wanna make your world better than it’s ever been.
And I’m gonna love you like nobody loves you;
And I’ll earn your trust making memories of us.” – Keith Urban

I have seldom been privileged in having someone care about me enough to remember the little things about me. (One girl once remembered that I didn’t like Chinese food.)

The good news is, I know that if a fellow remembers the small little details about your life, it is touching and important to you.

The better news is, I’m already ahead of you on that.

I already want to know the details about your life. And, I’ll make mental notes on what they are too.

The color of your eyes.

Your favorite food.

The name of your dog.

The way you like your ice cream.

The special places you talk about…the ones where you adopt a faraway look in your eye as you wander fondly among your memories and describe them to me.

You won’t even know I’m furiously scribbling notes in my mind about taking you back there some day. You won’t expect it when I suddenly appear with your ice cream prepared just the way you like it. You’ll be pleased I remembered…and I’ll be pleased because you’ll be pleased.

Even better than that, we’ll get to make our own new memories. Can you imagine recreating our first date? Repeating memories 25 years after the fact? Browsing through the boxes of photographs and souvenirs. They may not be much. But to us, they’ll be the world.

In life, it’s the little things that matter most. And I’ll remember them from Day 1.

I promise.

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Promises | Leave a comment

“We”: A Conjunction of Two Stars

You know how sometimes you find random hairs on your coat, and pick them off? I found one on mine today, a very long and feminine hair. It made me both happy and sad.

Sad, because it had no meaning for me. It could have been anybody’s, carried on the wind or left in a chair. I picked it off and let it flutter out of sight.

Happy, because even this tiny, inconsequential little follicle reminded me of you. It reminded me of all the ways in which our two lives, now wholly separate and distinct, will begin to merge.

It’s going to begin when you and I become a “we.” It will start out simple and slow. We will start calling each other at the end of the day, just to check in. We’ll begin asking each other about the important things of life — and the unimportant.

Then we’ll start becoming an “item”. We‘re going to the movie. We‘ll be back by 11. We‘re going shopping today. We‘ve been seeing each other for months now.

Then we‘ll move up. We’ll hold hands. We‘ll plan the future…our future.

Then comes the magical day when in the eyes of God, our families, the law and each other, we will become one in each other and in Christ.

After that, our lives will rub off on each other in a plethora of small ways, and we’ll be sharing all the things spouses share. You’ll take a bite of my dinner just to see if it’s good — and for once, I won’t care if you use the same fork I do. In a pinch, you might wear my shirts around the house or borrow my razor. We’ll become a part of each other. Our thoughts and words will grow closer to each other. The million different unique experiences and perspectives will fuse to form one, still in two separate parts, but grafting together.

Why, I’m sure one day when I’m off somewhere else, I’ll find a hair off my coat and examine it closely to see if it’s yours. I’ll smell it, because it will smell like you, and of course I’ll recognize your fragrance. And if it’s yours, I’ll tuck it away in my breast pocket because it’s a part of you…and you’re part of me.

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Anticipation | | 3 Comments

To She Who Did Not Wait Pt. 2

Well for starters, I didn’t even think there’d be a part 2. But I didn’t used to think there’d be a part 1.

I think God is putting me here for a reason. I’m trying to understand, really I’m trying. Work with me here. Until this past year, I haven’t been on the scene of any relationships at all. Then an angel came down, peered at the wiring, shouted “Well HERE’S your problem!” and plugged in a loose connection. Ever since then, I’ve had opportunities and options that eluded me for years. I can already see some of the pull and attraction of romance. But then again, my guard is up so high that it’s hard to let it down and just be me and enjoy those comforts of knowing and being known.

I think God’s working on my ability to forgive. I’m not saying I’m there, I’m just saying it’s not as hard as it used to be.

I know you didn’t break my heart on purpose. I know you were just trying to create love, even if it didn’t exist. I’m trying to understand that. I’m trying to tell myself you didn’t have the same teaching and guidance that I did.

But you have no idea what that does to a guy. Search the internet if you doubt me. There’s guys and girls galore who are scraping the inside of their hearts and souls, desperately clawing for some wisdom, truth or grace to remove the knot inside their gut.

Any time I’ve ever brought it up, it’s only been to try to talk my way through to a peace about the matter. Talking about a subject can disarm it. I wanted reassurance that I could somehow be different, and not just because I was the last in a line. I wanted to know you regretted what you’d done. I wanted to hear you say it’s all in the past, it means nothing to you, it was never real and that somehow even through all that, you were waiting…that you want so badly to get it right and you’re waiting now. I wanted to hear that you wish you could have waited, that you’re so glad I did, and that you value that in me more than anything, even if we didn’t wind up together.

You know what I really wanted? I wanted to read something like this:

Dear Beren,

Recently I’ve seen how you’re struggling with the fact that I am not a virgin and you are. I see that this hurts you, and although it hurts me too, I hate that I’m the subject of your struggle. I wish I could say the magic words to untie the knot in your gut and give you peace. Better still, I wish I could go back and undo the deeds of the past that haunt your mind today.

Since I can’t, let me at least say a few things that I hope will ease your mind and comfort you.

First, the person that I was is not who I am today. I am changed. I may not be able to erase my deeds, but God can erase my sins just as He erases yours. I did not have the advantage of wisdom and guidance as you growing up. If I had, I think things would be different.

Second, I am so very glad you made the decision to wait for me. I am honored beyond words that you tamed your desires in deference to giving them whole and complete to me. It is this restraint that draws me to you. You had strength where I had weakness, and I admire and respect that strength. You are leading us both along this path now, and I am grateful and content to rest in that strength and make it my own.

Third, my past mean NOTHING to me now. I write it off as a loss; I choose not to remember them, and I promise you I will never compare you to them. If it’s of any help, there’s not a man alive I would choose to give this gift to now except you…and even then, not until I am wearing your ring.

If we have our own special journey ahead of us, and I promise you with all my heart that if we step through the door and into forever together, I will do everything I can to make it worthwhile.

Please accept both my apologies for the past and my promise for the future, and let them comfort you in the hours when your mind returns to my past.

I’m sure it was too much to ask, and I’m sorry I brought it up. At least you were honest.

I’m starting to understand. I’m trying.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I know it starts with Jesus; opening everything in your soul to Him and letting Him purify it. No one can change for somebody else. This would mean letting go of other habits too. It may seem daunting, but I know without a doubt it would all be worth it.

January 3, 2012 Posted by | Other Letters | 2 Comments