Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

Not Myself

“It’s the rule that you live by and die for;
It’s the one thing you cannot deny

Even though you don’t know what the price is; it is justified.
So much more that you’ve got left to fight for
But it still doesn’t change who you are
There is no fear you’ll ever give in to;
You’re untouchable
‘Cause you’re losing your mind and you sleep in the heart of the night…”

Dear Darling,

Again, a plethora of swirling thoughts tonight. Upon consideration, I believe I can sort them into four headings.

1. I went to see a movie tonight. Alone.

I was supposed to go with someone, but she — thinking she was doing me a favor — canceled without talking to me, and left me holding the ball at the last minute. I was very hurt and disappointed, but she got mad back and told me she was trying to do me a favor.

I checked with several other friends to see if they would accompany me. None could. I had already told those close to me I would be going. Whether because of pride, or out of a desire to spare others my morose company, I went to dinner and the movie, alone.

2. Sin is getting to me. 

No, I’m not surrendering to it, I just cannot bear to look as heart after heart of the people I thought were my allies become corrupted. I learnt of another friend who abandoned the standard of purity for her boyfriend. Then she expects my sympathy because they broke up.

I internalize these sins of others far too much. I know that. But I can’t change it. I thought we were all standing for something. Each and every person who gives in deals a blow to my heart. It makes me angry. It hurts me. It isolates me, leaves me feeling betrayed, abandoned, excluded.

It all looks so easy. I have so many believers who simply found the person they were looking for, and make such young, beautiful, lovely couples. As if their Mr. Right or Ms. Right was simply right out on the corner waiting for them. They post doe-eyed, fresh and exciting pictures from their honeymoons, and then they start having babies. Their lives are on track.

That’s the first option.

The second option is they go mess around. They bind their souls in sexual intercourse, reveling in all its pleasures and glories, just as God created it. Then oh how sorry they are. 50% of their sins can be blamed on their upbringing and circumstances, they invoke God’s forgiveness for the other 50%, and thus I am told I have no right to look down on them, to be angry, to hold it against them. And anyway, their sin wasn’t against me so what’s the big deal. It’s not long before they find their mate, who of course didn’t wait either, and they get their happy life kickstarted. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too. And they did.

The third option is that you become weary in doing good — yes, even despite the commandment. You run a solid race, but you become spent. You’re parched, dusty, tired, hungry. The harsh glare of culture’s unforgiving sunlight wilts (and yet galvanizes) your resolution as the weaker brothers and sisters fall away. And what is our reward? Is there even a reward?

But then people tell me it’s my problem for dying a little with every deserter. I have to forgive. I can’t hold on. How many times have I turned this concept over in my mind, trying to make sense and peace of it?

There is one girl, yet another Who Did Not Wait. We are great friends. I have a tremendous amount of comfort in her presence, and she looks up to me and feels comfortable with me as well. There is no question her roots in the faith are growing, deep and fast. But she didn’t wait. I’m not just mad at her for that. I’m mad because she put me in that position. To choose whether to hurt her by refusing to adopt a set of ghosts that I foresee haunting me for the rest of my life, or to forego a lifelong dream of mine to make me somewhat happy and her very happy. I’m grieved because part of me will always wonder what could have been…or what should have been…if the problem dwelt in my heart, and if I should have sacrificed my deepest desire for a comfortable and peaceful life and marriage.

I look around at the vastness of sexual sin and I feel like the Prodigal Brother.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

His younger brother did horrible, miserable things to his Father, to his whole family. He abandoned them, he disobeyed, he did everything possible wrong. Yet the Father (God) treated the repentant sinner with greater kindness and joy and affection than the loyal older son. It’s as if the Lord takes greater joy in rewarding repentance than lifelong service.

That older brother was coming home from a day of hard labor. His back was aching, his robes were soaked in sweat, and the dirt and dust of the field was clinging to him as he made his way home. He finds not that his virtue, his loyalty, his dedication, his valor, his service are rewarded. No indeed! The bells ring out for the one who did none of these things. Even worse, he’s forgotten. He’s not even invited to the party. He’s left dutifully slaving away in the fields by himself while they revel over a returning sinner. God’s answer, the answer of the Father, is supposed to be sufficient for the Prodigal Brother. For me, it isn’t. We were promised virtue is its own reward. How are we motivated to stay on the path of truth if we are not rewarded?

The same is true of the workers in Matthew 20, who worked all day in the vineyard and received the same reward as those who worked but an hour: “These who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

Christ used this to warn us the last shall be first. Virtue is its own reward? These are two very powerful arguments against that idea. Why keep God’s commandments when He rewards repentance from disobedience more? Why not relish the delights of sin (and let’s not mince words here, sin is fun, otherwise it wouldn’t be so tempting) and then come get forgiveness? Looks like everyone wins except the faithful.

3. I’m not myself lately.

Either that or life isn’t. The world is putting more dents in me. I feel like I’m losing sensitivity to people sometimes. I’m more short-tempered with people.  It’s getting harder to make decisions, and I don’t know what God wants from me. He’s set up my life in a fine direction. It’s not the one I thought it would be, but it’s all taking shape quite nicely, and appears to be His will.

But I’m faced with these strange decisions. Women are becoming attracted to me in a way they never have. At a time when I’m trying to get to know one attractive prospect, the state beauty queen suddenly expresses interest, and I’m suddenly left wondering if I’m a “player” by entertaining more than one prospect. I’m increasingly at odds with my family, who can’t understand or sympathize with my position in life.

4. I’m trying to worry about me first right now.

I’m burning out in some ways. I’m trying to worry about what I need first (for once) because no one else will. My ability to extend myself on behalf of others waxes and wanes. Those close to me seem oblivious to what I need, offering only pointed fingers for what I must change. I don’t need that. I need to be told it’s okay to feel the way I do. I need to be congratulated for making it this far, and that I will be rewarded. I need someone to pat me on the back and and give me an “atta boy” with an encouraging tenacity that brings tears to my eyes. I need to be reminded I’m not alone. I need people to look after me and my needs (not what they think my needs should be) because I don’t want to look after my own needs.

I don’t know what I want…or should want. I know I’m tired of the drama. I’m tired of being abandoned, and tired of being told it’s my problem if I can’t abide the rampant infidelity towards future marriages. I’m tired of not feeling. I’m tired of fighting to keep from not feeling. I’m tired of not knowing what my reward is, or when, or even if it will get here.

Sometimes I wonder if I won’t make it through the smoke and ash and flame just in time to collapse in your arms, Darling. That’s going to be a problem if the world’s left you half as ragged as it has me.

Love always,

-Beren

“You can’t stop yourself, don’t want to feel
Don’t want to see what you’ve become
You can’t walk away from who you are
Never give in.
Where is the edge of your darkest emotions?
Why does it all survive?
Where is the light of your deepest devotions?
I pray that it’s still alive.”

Within Temptation, “Where is the Edge”

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July 7, 2012 - Posted by | Loneliness, Purity

2 Comments »

  1. […] assume he exaggerated.) Of course, that just gave me flashbacks to my sentiments about being the prodigal brother. Here was a gregarious and outgoing man, successful in his business, and now in leadership over me, […]

    Pingback by Spent « Letters to Luthien | September 23, 2012 | Reply

  2. […] Workers Wages and the Prodigal Son, of which I’ve written before, both point to the futility of sacrifice, of following God and disciplining one’s […]

    Pingback by Worth It? « Letters to Luthien | December 23, 2013 | Reply


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