Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

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