Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

First Dates

Look at this article. Just look at it. The advice of the world rolled up into a tidy little ball. And were I to provide advice for another, I would say exactly the opposite.

When it comes to you (or anybody I may be out with), I am considering you for a potential mate. I am looking at you not through the lens of temporary fun and frivolity, but through the lens of eternity.

It’s a little staggering to try to size someone up in a perspective that big, but what else is the point of dating?

Therefore, I want to get all those Big Questions out of the way to begin with. Dispense the doubts, frets and hesitations so we can get to know one another. It’s how I am. If someone has bad news for me, I prefer them to spit it out quickly rather than balking and stalling.

So on Item 1, frankly I’d like to know what your romantic history has been, because I would hope you have nothing to hide and no shameful secrets or regrets hiding in your past. I have nothing to hide when it comes to mine. I may not enjoy knowing you’ve been out with or even kissed other guys, but hey, the truth is the truth.

Item 2: Really?

Item 3: Okay, so I wouldn’t ask you how much money you make, and I would certainly be put off if you asked this of me. But innocent inquiries into what goals and pursuits you’ve applied yourself to are perfectly acceptable. If you are interviewing me, you want to know I have not been idle and am capable of being a good provider.

Item 4: No one needs pressure about the specifics of a relationship, especially during a first date. But I think the goals, expectations or desired outcomes should be discussed. “Why are you doing this? What’s your plan?” That sort of thing.

Item 5: Uh, sorry, if you look half as good as I think you’re going to look, I will make free to tell you.

The closing note about being a therapist? I am accustomed to people confiding their secrets, hopes, fears, insecurities, discomforts and desires all the time. Sometimes, that kind of trust is very encouraging.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Affording Perfection

“How are you still single?”

I still remember those words, which were the start of the only thing close to a true relationship I’ve ever had. It didn’t end well, and while I was hurt and dealt hurt in return, I still remember it fondly, still wish it could have worked and still hold it as a standard by which I make comparisons as I scan the horizon with tired eyes, looking for someone comparable who is in the kingdom. (Because, of course, I could only ever marry a woman whose hand I must ask my Heavenly Father’s permission for.)

I had cause to remember these words again recently as I was working with two lovely ladies. One was older and crusty (quite a mouth!) though not unkind, and the other was young, cute as a button and shy. (And married.)

I preface all this by saying, I’m used to people looking at me like I’m too good to be true. Often they ask questions as if they don’t care, but beneath the surface they’re startled to find such a departure from the norm. (If I had a dime for how many times I’ve been told how “refreshing” it is to know “guys like me” are out there…!)

And darling, please don’t think I’m bragging. Believe me, if I had the power to change the designs of society, I would. I’m really quite weary of being one of the only standard-bearers for decent guys who love the Lord, stand by their principles, and still engage the world. I’m tired of standing out and having people stare at me when they hear more about me.

In fact, because of this I usually conceal most of the facts about me which would truly startle people and/or be construed as boasting. Believe me…it’s not easy to blend in with most crowds.

Nevertheless, as the day progressed and we three got to know each other, they found out more details about me, and were impressed.

At one point, the conversation went as follows:

“So, you are educated, tall and drink water…you run, you love dogs and like going to movies…you’re like, perfect! Why hasn’t anyone found you before?”

“No one can afford ‘perfection’,” I replied sadly. They instantly took umbrage that I used the word perfect until I reminded them first that I wasn’t the one that used the word, and second that I didn’t mean true perfection.

After all, it’s not exactly late-breaking news that nobody is perfect. But there’s a difference between truly perfect, and being perfect for you. A back-scratcher may not be the epitome of flawless engineering, but for an itch you can’t reach, it’s exactly what you need.

For most of my life, I’ve tried to imagine the kind of girl I hope to marry…and spent considerable time trying to become the perfect I guessed she would be looking for. (My fatal flaw seems to be that the kind of girl I imagined finding can’t be found.)

“Where were you 30 years ago?” Aunt Crusty amusingly demanded to know. It was meant as a wisecrack, but I learned enough about her married life to realize it wasn’t a complete joke. (I can scarcely imagine what they would have thought if I’d told them all about me, or showed them these letters!)

Cousin Cutie later confided quietly that she held the same standards as me, and found it extremely difficult to find someone with whom to share them. And, she told me with some sadness, in the end she didn’t find that person. But she still held up her end of the contract and was the mother of a beautiful new baby, so I am sure she is happy.

I cannot tell you how discouraging it is to stand alone in striving for — not perfection, but at least goodness. It’s not as if I’m some super-human with special powers, and I truly have difficulty understanding the behaviors of most people in my culture. They complain about their problems, even as they continue to make decisions which compound them.

The only people who appreciate my efforts observe them too late to be impacted by them.

Everyone could be different. Everyone could be a little more amazing. Everyone could make right decisions, which would make mine less noteworthy. And oh, how much time I’ve spent encouraging people to do this…!

If nothing else, I hope you’ll take heart from hearing these stories. I absorb with some sadness, that my meager efforts are seen as so exceptional.

I know you can’t be perfect, Darling. I can’t promise to be either. Just do me a favor, won’t you? Don’t use it as an excuse not to try.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness, Purity | 1 Comment

TOGWD: Cleaning

I’m not the most organized person in the world. I may be a little messy and disorganized. I may even have misplaced my share of important paperwork in my time and had to pay minor late fees on taxes or movie rentals.

But there’s a method to the madness. The truth is, I hate disorder…I’m just usually doing something that is more important (to me) to stop and clean.

I actually like cleaning. It’s a refreshing break from mental labors, and a great way to unwind while restoring order to the world I live in. Some days, there’s nothing better than clearing one’s mind of its obligations and stresses, throwing open the windows to let a breeze in and just cleaning; sweeping up floors, wiping off counters, folding that clean laundry from the hamper you’ve been living out of for a week. It’s cathartic.

So Darling, it’s no exaggeration when I say that while other guys figure it’s the wife’s job, I plan on helping you keep a clean house.

I’m always amused when I hear stories or see it in movies (you know how one forms these opinions of societal trends without quite remembering how or where?) about a man who takes out the trash without being asked or does the dishes because he’s in trouble or trying to curry favor.

Sheesh.

We’re on the same team. And while I do hope that at one point you are equal to the task of raising and educating our children and tending the house, I view marriage as a 100%/100% team sport…each of us giving 100%. I don’t believe in the philosophy of “that’s not my job.”

And while I have my share of handyman skills, I’m not just talking about “man tasks” either. I mean vacuuming, dusting, washing laundry or doing dishes. They aren’t my favorite things in the world to do, but what I mean is I don’t mind doing them. I believe that true goodness is humble; that to be great you have to be a servant.

So while I’m not setting my sights on doing this every day, or being a good little housewife for you, I do plan on doing my share (or more) to help you…and at times, to surprise you by doing it all. And I don’t just mean during the mythical “honeymoon period” either.

I think a nice, contented sigh and a “you’re wonderful” might be payment enough…although throwing your arms around my neck and giving me a kiss might not be unappreciated either.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Things Other Guys Won't Do | Leave a comment

I Miss You

“And sometimes, at nighttime, I dream that you are there;
But wake holding nothing but the empty air;
And years come, and years go; time runs dry.
Still I ache down to the core; 
My broken soul can’t be alive and whole
Till I hear you sing once more.”

Dear Darling,

I miss you.

I miss you tonight. I missed you today, and this morning, and yesterday. I missed you the day before, and last week, and all of last year.

I missed you last winter, when life was so difficult and every pillar of my life’s ambitions was crumbling. I missed you as winter turned to spring, and with it came a different dream to pursue. I missed you as I spent hours upon hours in classrooms and labs studying and taking exams, and as fall crept in and my studying intensified.

I miss you now, as I battle stress and worry and loneliness.

I’ve always missed you.

I miss knowing who I’m writing to. It is nice, after all, to know who you’re writing to, and to receive responses. It’s nice, simply to converse at the end of the day, ask how the day went, to relate those specific events, stories and times of the day when you paused to freeze a moment, tuck it away in your mind to discuss when next you talk.

When the workday is over, and I can finally shrug off the day’s pressures, I miss having someone I can call to talk to…someone who cares, and someone to care about. Maybe you’ve already been there and know what it’s like, that need to talk after the day is done. The last job, there were times I picked up my phone to call someone before realizing I had no one to call. I once had someone do this…but she’s gone, just like everyone else.

I’ve always had you in the back of my mind…always thinking of you, making notes about you: “I’ll have to tell Her this,” “She’ll laugh at this,” and so forth.

I miss having someone who can go with me to events, concerts or movies, to accompany me and plan outings or all those lovely dates I’m planning; someone to spoil and pamper and take to dinner. Someone to make me better, yet challenge me and keep me on edge and wondering. Someone to teach and be taught by. Someone to complete me.

I miss smelling your perfume — and the days to come when its fragrance will be comfort and familiarity, known to linger on my coats and clothing because of the many times I’ve pulled you close.

I miss the feeling I’ve never had, that no matter what else goes wrong in life, you and I can always lean on each other.

My gosh! Feeling loved and needed must be addictive. What must it be like to exist in the company of another and to know that person would rather be with you than anyone else in the entire universe? That you, in that moment fixed in time, are the only one who can fulfill that need for companionship? I am sure it exists, this intangible bliss, but for me, it does not exist beyond the imagination.

I miss you, darling. I’ve always missed you.

I’ll be here waiting for you when you get here. I dare you to be as happy as I when that moment comes.

Love always,

Beren

“Let hopes pass, let dreams pass! Let them die!
Without you, what are they for?
I’ll always feel no more than half-way real
Till I hear you sing once more.”

February 27, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness | Leave a comment

TOGWD: Shopping

I have another confession…I like to buy stuff.

It’s not that I’m bad with money, although when I first felt that freedom given by a paycheck, I did let a lot of it slip through my fingers.

Now of course, it wasn’t all for me…sometimes I’d buy something for my family, or lunch for somebody. (Last year I spent a couple hundred dollars on a Wounded Warriors family.) I still don’t regret most of the ways I spent it, but it was sobering to look back over my earnings for a year, and how much of it was left — and how much wasn’t.

If you won’t tell anyone else, I even kind of like shopping.

Frankly, I’m good at it.

I’m capable of knowing what I have at home and what I need to buy. It’s not exactly the “thrill of the hunt” I enjoy, but as I pack a shopping cart full of food, it’s a great reminder of the ability to provide, and the privilege of being able to take care of one’s needs comfortably.

Now I don’t want you to think either that I’m irresponsible with money or that there’s nothing I like better than a jaunt in the mall. It’s just that money itself isn’t as important to me as the ways in which it can be used, and I like using it to make other people happy. (Within reason.)

And we’re not just talking a quick run by the store on the way home from work. I’m talking you hand me a full grocery list of everything you need to cook for the next week or two and I’ll head out. Personally, I think it would be more fun if we both went shopping…I think even the little things like a grocery trip can be romantic together.

Of course, while the mall isn’t my favorite place, I have a hunch you’ll still want to go there every now and again and buy clothes. Ya’know, I’ll probably not even mind going with you there. I think it’d be fun to see you try on dresses, blouses and skirts, and have you ask my opinion.

I’ll be flattered you care what I think, you gorgeous thing you.

Mind you, if you ask me whether or not a certain outfit flatters you, I’ll not shy away from tactfully suggesting you find an alternate. (We can have a deal that if you never say that classic line “Does this make my behind look too big?” then I will never respond to it.)

I might even hold your purse while you duck into the ladies’ room…mostly because I’m amused by the classic Dude Paradox this presents.

I hear “guy talk” about this sort of thing all the time. They grumble about their wives spending too much money, and dragging them all over the store, and whatnot. Really? First of all, if you’re the kind of girl I think you are, you’ll already be frugal and prudent with the resources God gives us. Second, why don’t they give a little more joyfully? I’m sure these are just the questions of a man who’s never been there before, but I find myself very annoyed with today’s modern husband, and how lightly he criticizes the bride he promised to love, honor and cherish.

And even if I didn’t mind, or on the days when I do mind, I’ll still try to chip in and help you out.

It’s just one of the many ways I want to reward you for being there with me.

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Things Other Guys Won't Do | Leave a comment

Find A Way

“Find a way to my heart, and I will always be with you
From wherever you are, I’ll be waiting
I’ll keep a place in my heart, you will see it shining through
So find a way to my heart, and I will, I will follow you

This journey’s not easy for you, I know
If your footsteps get too faint to hear, I’ll go
But you know, questions are never that easy
And never the same
You have the answer believe me
If you have the faith, 

To find a way to my heart…

Time may come, and time may go, I know
If you should call out for me, I’ll go
But you know, there is a code to be broken
I wrap it around
Without a word being spoken
Without a sound

There’s a reason I hide my heart
Out of sight out of mind
And when I find out just who you are
The door will be open for you to
Find a way to my heart…”

Phil Collins

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Songs | Leave a comment

In Anticipation of…Our First Dance

I stumbled across this link last night. It’s a website full of song suggestions for first dances at weddings.

Awesome.

I’ve always been attracted to dancing — ballroom/couples — but mostly as an activity (like so many others) for which to wait on you. What’s the point of dancing with anyone else…even an instructor? I’d rather learn with you, even if I’m not the world’s greatest dancer.

By now you may have figured out that I really like making everything picturesque and iconic. Guilty. I think it’s a gift for everyone. And to be honest, I’m used to people looking at me to set an example. So, I like to set a really good one. But I really hope we do get a chance to just get lost in the moment, wrapped up in each other’s arms, savoring the words, the sights, the sounds, the feelings…poised on that golden step of the archway to forever together.

I see a lot of songs in there I know. I can close my eyes and see us slowly sashaying around the floor, doing the slow-dance to some of them. I think the cool part will be our parents. Assuming both our mothers and fathers will still be alive at our wedding, how long do you think it’s been since they’ve danced with each other? Maybe we’ll help them relive their wedding.

And for our siblings and friends? Maybe we’ll get a chance to give them their first dance. Maybe we’ll even help one or two of them find a dancing partner for life. Our wedding will be a chance to bless a ton of people!

Anyway, look through that song list when you get a chance, dear. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to pick and plan, but it’s fun to contemplate.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Anticipation, Our Wedding | 1 Comment

#16: Strength

“Fall! Go on and fall apart
Fall into these arms of mine — I’ll catch you
Every time you fall, go on and lose it all
Every doubt, every fear, every worry, every tear,
I’m right here; baby, fall.” – Clay Walker

I’m under a lot of stress right now, dear. Working two jobs with more hours than I’ve ever worked before, while juggling a lot of different projects and duties. I’m not giving some of them the proper attention they deserve, and all the while I know I’m only functioning at maybe 50% of what I could do, because I don’t have you or many other friends behind me or beside me, patting me on the back, giving me a thumbs-up, cheering me on or offering words of encouragement…certainly not anyone that understands what I’m going through.

Sometimes I think if anyone knew what all I was going through, what all I’ve been through and what all I feel right now, they’d drop everything and just hug me. But I guess that’s everyone, isn’t it.

Sometimes I talk to myself in the car and tell myself it’s going to be okay, don’t worry, calm down, hang in there, chin up, you’ll be alright, things will get better, everything’s going to be alright, and other assorted lies. And when I’m going through a hard time like this, absent my own comforters, I try to think about how we might bring peace and comfort to each other.

You’re going to have all kinds of bad days. I see this happen with women often enough…they get worked up and stressed out.

Some days, you’ll be lost in this flurry of activity, frenetic with anxiety about getting something right. Maybe it’s in a rush to get our children off to some special event, or one of those old-fashioned parties I suggested and then left you to plan.

The way I figure, that’s where I come in. I’ll come up behind you, and you’ll feel my arms encircle your waist and pull you into a warm and calming hug from behind. I’ll stop the world for a minute, pull you out of your harried rush, look you in the eye, and remind you to just breathe. To close your eyes while I soothe the pain and worry away. To lay your head on my shoulder and let you let go.

Darling…put as many tears on my shirt as you want. I don’t care. I just want to stroke your hair and softly whisper that everything’s going to be all right.

Remember, there’s strength in these arms. There’s a place in them where only you belong. They’re built for you, what good are they to me? They’re here to offer you strength and peace and courage. They’re here, I’m here, to help restore you and take away your stress…to remind you that no matter what, I’m here for you.

It may not even be one specific crisis you’re facing. It could just be a long and tedious day whose end has finally come and you’re ready to walk through the door and have a good cry…or wait for me to walk through the door and let me hold you.

You know, if I have the time, I’ve often thought about taking massage therapy classes so I can de-stress you properly.

I’m looking forward to earning your trust enough that I can be that shelter for you. And I will earn that trust, dear. Let me find you, let me finally set these weary eyes on your face and know it’s you, and the door to this sheltering love will swing open to you as naturally as to its owner.

My strength right now is incomplete. It’s even faltering at times. But I take strength from those that need me. And when you need me, I’ll be there to give you strength.

I promise.

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Promises | 2 Comments

In Anticipation of…Planning Our Time Together

I have to admit, I’ve always liked lists. It helps keeps things organized. Ideas come and go in my brain, and sometimes if I don’t make sure to imprint them on paper, they’re lost.

So I’ve been keeping a list for you too, dear. A list of potential places to go with you. Restaurants, dates, attractions, activities…places I’m looking forward to taking you.

So far, I’m up to 34.

Between work and life, skipping some weeks and doubling up on others, I’m calculating it will take us a good six months to burn through those ideas. I’m sure I’ll build up more ideas between now and then…and no doubt you’ll have a suggestion or two.

So you see, my dearest future bride, although we’ve not met, I’ve not been idle!

I’m told girls like a man with a plan, so good news lady…I’m planning.

But really, I enjoy planning the things you and I might do and places we might go. It puts this goofy grin on my face. There’s places I’ve been and I immediately flag them in my mind, thinking “I’ll have to bring Her back here!” Funny enough, I doubt you’ll actually appreciate the amount of effort and thought it took to bide my time and get you to that restaurant or that place. You may not even notice when I cross off one idea and start planning the next one. But that’s okay. As long as you don’t mind me being a little over-exuberant sometimes. You probably don’t even think you’re worth making such a fuss over…silly girl. I’m looking forward to you trying to tell me that so I can punish you with a kiss.

But think about this…when our day comes, we’ll get to plan our vacations together. Time away for just you and me.

I’ve been to some pretty neat places before, but only by myself. And if you haven’t been there before dear, let me tell you, touring some place alone is absolute rot. Having someone to share those wow moments with? Like the Grand Canyon, or an ocean sunset, or a brilliant night of stars? Someone to book airline tickets next to and have someone to talk to on the plane? Tell me you don’t think that will be all kinds of awesome. Starting from scratch, snuggling up on a couch and flipping through tour books or picking out where we want to go and when? Heck, maybe we’ll wind up poor, you and me. Maybe the world will shoot all to pieces and we’ll be lucky to find some uncharred plot of land to stake a claim. But half the fun is planning.

If I know you like I think I know you, then you’ll probably be down for some missions trips too. Vacations are great, but going somewhere new and getting something done for the Kingdom is just a double bonus.

Oh and here’s the other thing, since people never do banquets or balls anymore, I’d look forward to doing those sorts of things. I wasn’t often invited to dinners or parties or get-togethers when I was younger. I eventually figured out I’d have to start staging my own outings and inviting people.

I get this boiling, bubbling energy and joy just to plan things like this. I would really enjoy it if you and I could share that. And to be honest, if we wind up doing well enough in life, I would really like to share some of our blessings with others, being the master of the hall and sponsoring balls and parties and dances and bashes and shindigs, good clean fun, just like in the olden days. (If I haven’t mentioned it before, I have an abiding affection for the olden days.)

You wouldn’t mind helping be a hostess for such things, would you?

Whether planning dances and dinners, or holidays and getaways, the point is that we have to keep being intentional about it. No matter how urgent and pressing the cares of the world are, we have to keep the love alive and remember to take time off for ourselves. That’s my plan. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

Until then, I’ll just keep writing down ideas.

//

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Anticipation | 1 Comment

The Imperfect Paradise

Moonlight and love songs 
Never out of date 
Hearts full of passion 
Jealousy and hate 
Woman needs man 
And man must have his mate 
That no one can deny; 
It’s still the same old story 
A fight for love and glory 
A case of do or die 
The world will always welcome lovers 
As time goes by.”

Have you ever noticed? The very first man to be created was perfect, dwelling in a sinless paradise with every animal, and walking in perfect fellowship with his Creator.

Then God looked down on all He created, frowned, and said “Hmm, something’s missing.”

Then He made Woman.

Paradise wasn’t perfect until woman was created.

Perfect man plus perfect God in paradise still wasn’t perfect until woman came along. Man on earth was designed to be incomplete, even in the presence of God.

How much more does imperfect man in an imperfect walk with God on a planet that seethes with imperfection need companionship?

February 18, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness | 1 Comment