Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

Gone, Again, Already

And just like that, she’s gone.

I barely knew her. Never even heard her voice. We exchanged some messages and pictures. There was that grin again, briefly; that irrepressible, bubbled-up excitement of what-if.

But she left.

Sooner or later, I guess everyone does. Maybe it’s better that way. Assuredly it is God’s will, for it’s hard to believe anyone so fixed on trying to live out His will can fall so far afoul of it. I just don’t know how long God wants to keep giving me breaths of fresh air piecemeal before closing the windows I find myself in front of.

“We don’t value the same things,” she said. “I’m a pacifist.”

There’s more to it than that. There has to be. My guess, she’s another “reformed” traitor.

Perhaps I’m being unkind. Of course I am. But she knew my values, and the dissolution came only after I asked a broad question about them. Many will no doubt think the question entirely premature  even rude to broach so quickly. Why? Why not peg down the girders and guideposts of a structure before ordering paint and plaster?  A common foundation is essential. Why assert it is too important to bring up immediately?

I can hardly accept that we did not value the same interests and pursuits. Indeed, they were so similar it was eerie. In the absence of clarification, I can only surmise she gave herself already to someone else and seeks to extricate herself tactfully because she is unwilling to subject herself to strict scrutiny.

Once again, my standards (not another foolish, gullible, weak-willed woman’s indiscretions) are the problem, and it’s making me angry. I grow mad with the delay wrought by being “too good” for my generation. They will not become like me, and I refuse to become like them. We are consistently sundered by disparate values.

You know well enough by now Dear, there are times when I would like to break my troth merely out of revenge. How shallow! but it is my feeling: “You tossed your head and threw away your gift, and then reject me because I still have mine and look for its match in another. Should I not then throw mine away as freely as you, the better to teach you my pain and loss? Should I become like you, that you may become like me? Would it even matter? Would you even feel as I do? Or would you be relieved I joined your ranks, and glad I no longer tower over you, still rooted in principle and making you feel the condemnation of silence? You will not aspire to my level. Shall I vengefully condescend to yours? In anger, should I break the unbroken, and let you mourn its downfall as I mourned yours? Will it will be a loss to you as it was to me?

I suppose I have sinned even to contemplate the idea. To allow my mind to wander down those comfortable but ominous pathways of what it would feel like to fall asleep in someone’s arms, exhausted, content, warm, cherished and comforted. I know people who would fit that bill. Thank God for sustaining me and giving me the strength to uphold my vows.

You had your night(s) of joy. In bitterness you find you must accept the sadness and pain that accompany the dawn’s rising and lust’s hollow aftertaste. But forever coupled with that bitter is the sweet memory of pleasure and ecstasy, the cost and benefit of this coming of age you chose…and with it, my resentment. And then you and your kind have the nerve to ask me to purchase only the pain and the regret with no recompense, no sweet to balance the bitter.

It amazes me you don’t even try, you don’t even try to make me feel better about it. No compensation, no consolation prize, no reassurance or “well hey, at least there’s (x) for you!” No “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you this, but at least there’s something else.” It’s just “yeah, sorry, I know that’s a bummer. Maybe you shouldn’t think about it.”  Or some tell me good job for resisting, like a friendly pat on the head to a dog. One person I know thought they could make it up to me in the bedroom. I’m sure the thought was kindly meant, but that’s the last thing I want is the promise to be taught all the smooth electric sex moves learnt while riding previous partners.

It’s hate that I feel, and I may as well admit it…the bitterness and fury of persistent abandonment, for being pure. Thinking I was saving myself for you, I find instead that under the surface of almost every person I scratch, hoping to find Luthien underneath, lies a rusted and repainted surface which reviles me for who I am…a reminder of who they aren’t, of their weakness and failure. A tower crumbled and rebuilt, which envies and shrinks away from the tower built on solid footing.

And it is now seven or eight such ladies that have been found wanting in this…who might have otherwise interested me.

No, I will not redeem it. I will either find the rarest flower with the will to stay strong, or I will break the gift just as you did, so that neither of us can have it. That would restore the balance, wouldn’t it. You would be relieved, wouldn’t you. The sinful side of me takes some measure of satisfaction in the idea of smashing that pure glistening jewel you long for but cannot reciprocate. It’s an ugly emotion, and not one to which I give energy. But it’s there.”

Statistically, 99% of the world, or at least of my peers, walk the earth with a secret satisfaction in their hearts. It’s not even discrete anymore; they all talk and share the meals and menus, recipes and recommendations, right in front of me, no shame. They, the ones who know it all, look with full bellies at one like me, struggling against the hunger, clap me on the back and say “cheer up, Beren! Why so glum?” Because I’m hungry, you bastards. I’m hungry, you’re fed, and I can’t find someone to love who will be strong with me in saving the menu for marriage. Even the older wise ones, with a lifetime of reservations and fine dining, look to me and commend me for my strength, but urge me not to hold it against those who didn’t wait.

There is an expression among my crass peers: “Doesn’t matter, had sex.” The world could be ending, yet the fulfillment of this one appetite still creates a point of significance. And what’s not to like? It was built to be amazingly attractive, the sensual epoch of the chemical, emotional, psychological and physical experience. Sometimes I want to ask them what it’s like, but why would I. Can you describe satiety to the one whose closest encounters with it are massaging the stomach to fool it into thinking itself full? They’re the wise ones, seasoned and sophisticated. I am the child, curiously peering like a feral whelp at a primitive toy.

I thought I could bury it. I thought I could outrun it. But they won’t let me. The world persistently casts me back against the knife’s edge, keeps reminding me I’m nearly alone, keeps slamming that pain up against my heart and demanding to know why I keep choosing obedience. Sometimes it’s harder to argue….but you’re not supposed to argue with the devil anyway. You’re supposed to resist him and his impeccable timing. You’re supposed to cling to that golden thread of hope and faith, and keep believing, keep doing what you know is right.

The kicker is then having to protect others from myself.

Part of me feels excluded. They get to know what sex is like before AND after marriage. Their amazing, breathless, forbidden trysts thrill the senses once, and then in committed relationships they are even more free. The one kid left on the bench while all the other ones went to play. The loner, standing on principle and feeling singled out and maybe even sheepish, but with a firm resolve to do what’s right, to honor God and his future bride.

I’m left feeling hurt, and devalued and worthless…like I wasn’t worth waiting for. Despite all I’ve done, despite everything I’ve tried to become, it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t deserve it. The gift for which I longed and strove to be worthy was given instead to some other, a brute, fixed on his needs and appetites rather than the will of God or the honor of his future wife.

I want someone who can count me worthy, even as I count her worthy. Let the world and all else burn away in the den of its current ruler.

November 30, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness, Purity | 4 Comments

Sundry Thoughts, Pt. 7

Dear Darling,

1) It’s finally frigid outside. I like frigid…for a little while.

2) I saw us out the other day. He was mid-30’s and had a green jacket. She had a jacket the color of orchids. They both looked happy together with their baby daughter as they searched for a live Christmas tree. (By the way, I hope you’re down for a live Christmas tree. It’s been a family tradition for years.) And somehow, I was struck by the idea that it was us I was looking at. One day.

3) Some friends invited me to a game night. That doesn’t happen often, but these are new friends. I like them. We ended up doing little more than card games, word games and a 1000-piece puzzle. I’ve never been much for puzzles. Always seemed like artificial productivity, like Monopoly, or those empire-building video games. But maybe there’s something to be said for doing things that don’t have significance. Maybe there is bonding and relaxation hidden in the mundane, fun things like puzzles. And it occurs to me that it would be a great thing for us to do, intent and concentrating but talking at the same time.

4) It seems like I’ll go months without any relationships or candidates on the horizon, and then suddenly I find more than one option staring me in the face. I actually really hate that.

5) I’ve said this before, but sometimes I question my own judgment in what I am looking for. Will I know? Can I know? How will I? How could I? I want to make sure I don’t think of you as some grand and glorious destiny, built up beyond humanity by years of letters and expectations. You’re a person. I’ve got to remember that. A person. Sometimes you want to lay on the couch without fixing up your hair and watch television. Sometimes you’ll have a cold and a stuffed-up nose. You won’t want my affections and I won’t want to catch it. We’ll have corn dogs and tater tots for dinner. I’ll have to get up early and the heat won’t be working properly. Someone will wake up in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom and stub a toe. Things won’t be perfect. If I could just find my imperfect perfection.

6) Eye contact. You know what I can’t wait to do? Look into your eyes. Just stare into them, drinking them in. Reading the thoughts and feelings and vulnerability and trust they convey. There’s a social rule about staring into eyes. Eye contact has significance and meaning. It will be a new experience to gaze into someone’s soul. Sit on the floor with our backs against the couch, the lights low, listening to Celine Dion, Diana Krall or Norah Jones, you pressed in next to my side as close as you can, your head on my shoulder as I stroke your hair.

7) It’s hard to find the balance between thinking of you in terms of destiny, and in terms of that everyday girl. It’s not like you’ll be in a Victorian ball gown, and I won’t be in a suit of armor. We’ll be wearing jeans. Maybe that’s the trick. A love that has room for jeans, but isn’t defined by them. That’s the tricky balance, merging acceptance of past, present and future.

But I just want my Luthien to love, even imperfectly. I want you to be the someone I can talk to…any time. I want to find someone again who sends the texts I just can’t wait to get. Someone I can message at 2am: “You up?” and hear back. Someone I can be myself around — wholly and completely myself, without being judged for being the selfish and insolent man I can be sometimes. Someone who can build me up and surprise me, supplement and complement me, help me find the words for a situation I fall short in describing.  Someone who says things that take me by surprise, and helps me looks at the world through a different, thoughtful pair of eyes. Someone who steals the sheets, washes dishes with me, picks me up from the airport.

I want someone who will help me lead. Darling, man is not always the best leader. Sometimes woman is better suited to the job, and plenty of times, a man finds it easier to abdicate his duty and lets her. I’ve seen this in many families. It’s actually the model of the very first original sin. For whatever reason, God designated me to step up and be the leader. Since God often calls people to tasks they’re not equal to (the better to rely on and prove His strength), I’m sure I won’t always be the best leader. I hope you won’t be threatened or insecure about it. Respectful submission isn’t because of inferiority but because of God’s divine order. I hope you will do so in gentle and wise acceptance of the roles appointed by God. Trust me, I’ll need your help. I don’t mean you must obey me, and I don’t EVER mean to lord it over you.

Don’t correct me in front of the kids…but do correct me. If possible, do it nicely. Admonish me, and remind me I can be better. Don’t just vent your frustration at my shortcomings…help me to see it. If your approach makes sense, I’ll admit it or acknowledge it. I’m more apt to acknowledge fault if you aren’t angry and emphatic. My defensiveness rises proportionate to the offense, but we have to  remember we’re on the same team.

Remind me that I matter. Remind me you wouldn’t have anyone else on earth. Remind me I’m not unlovable. Remind me life isn’t all battles persuasion and principles and debates. Remind me to have fun. I’m tense, and locked up. I’m scared to be too vulnerable and open physically. I’d flinch if you touched me. Don’t take it as rejection. In my resolve to be chaste, I may have gone too heavily in the opposite direction, but I did it to protect the both of us. If you’re patient, and don’t push it, I’ll relax and open up.

8) From time to time I get those glimpses, those mental images of moments in our future. The house is dark, and I’m bare-chested and sitting in front of the computer working. You say “come to bed” and I say “just a minute” still obliviously typing and working. Then you peak your head around the corner and wait until I look up. You give me a come-hither look and say “no, really, come to bed” before ducking around the corner. The laptop lid drops.

9) As always, there’s so much more I want to say. The ideas all crowd into my head, and sometimes I spend so much time writing them all down that I lose time to flesh them all out the way I want. But then, I suppose it’s an illusion to think I’ll write every letter I want before finding you. That is encouraging.

Love always,
Beren

November 26, 2012 Posted by | Sundry Thoughts, Who I Need You To Be | 6 Comments

One Year Anniversary Promise #25: An Everyday Love

“Her smile will be right there when I step through that door
And it will be that way tomorrow, just like everyday before
It’s ordinary, plain and simple, typical, this everyday love
Same ol’, same ol’ keeping it new, emotional, so familiar
Nothing about it too peculiar oh, but I can’t get enough
Of this everyday love
.”

Rascall Flatts

Dear Darling,

12 months ago, I took my wistful little romantic letters online in hopes either of finding you, or inspiring you, or inspiring others. 12 months ago.

That wasn’t the beginning.

No, the very first letter I ever wrote to you was May 20, 2007. I still have it, and all the letters in between. Four and a half years of them. I’m going for a record.

Here, a small group of hopeless romantics and loveless wanderers have also gathered, who find appeal in my words. I’ve inspired tears, laughs and smiles. Since I began, I’ve allegedly had more than 6,700 visitors, from 62 different countries.

This makes the 170th letter I’ve published online, and I have 64 drafts of unfinished ideas still to develop.

We’ve made one whole trip around the sun. I’ve grown a little older, a little wiser, a little kinder and fonder, but also a little lonelier and more sad. I’m sure we both have. I’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad. You have too. I’m a hopeless romantic and a bit nostalgic about these sorts of things. It puts me in the mind of our anniversaries to come. It’s always possible I’ll become just like the other men and forget anniversaries, but I don’t think so. I tend to remember dates that are important, like this one.

I get thoughtful about the passage of time too, particularly when one reaches that stage of life where friends are marrying, getting engaged and having babies. (Not all of them in that order.) You’re left not only solo, but almost none of those friends is actually involved or interested enough to chuckle and say “So, when’s it going to happen to YOU?”

Of course, I hope the normal feelings of jealousy and “when’s it my turn” don’t sour into envy or anger, though it can be wearying when they post of their great love and adoration for one another.

I remember one friend (one who did it right) spoke of how she could not get enough of her “everyday love.”

That’s what I want. As the years unfold and our future together washes over us, I just want that everyday love, the kind made up of precious moments we don’t even recognize at the time, the snapshots that symbolize the new life we’ll enjoy.

I can see them dimly. I can see me bending over your pregnant belly to buckle you into the passenger seat. I can imagine our first Sunday in church together as man and wife, and how I’ll keep my arm around you until it goes to sleep and then I’ll hold your hand. I can see us going out on dates even after we’re married, and singing together on the drive home. I can see us getting out and silently gazing up at the stars on a winter’s night, with you coming around the car to stand beside me. My arm will slip around your waist so comfortably and securely where it belongs, pull you close to share my warmth. A gentle and drowsy Sunday afternoon where we both settle into a nap together.

I see vacations and nurseries and hospital visits. Sickness and health, riches and poverty. Fights and families and holidays and gifts, and all the other moments I’ve inscribed on these pages.

I want that everyday love to be amazing. I want to create delirious, giddy times of joy for us, even when we’re old. I want flames and fireworks and butterflies. I want a marriage every day, a reception every afternoon, a honeymoon every night, an anniversary every weekend.

I want to relish in all of life’s joys and pains with you, together.

Until then, love. May fondest wishes find you, on whatever plot of earth your feet rest tonight.

Beren

November 21, 2012 Posted by | Promises | 3 Comments

Don’t

Don’t.

Don’t keep bringing this up. Don’t tell me I’m the problem. Don’t make me dredge up those feelings, or orbit in the unending sentiments. Don’t make me wallow in that anger or that hurt. I’m trying to bury it, for everyone’s sake. If only you could be in my shoes, see what I see, feel what I feel. The world would look so different. Your mouth would drop.

Don’t deny me something I’ve looked forward to my entire life. Don’t tell me to settle for less, lay aside everything I’ve worked for, saved up for, dreamed for. Don’t make me reenter that torture chamber. You may as well take a shotgun and blow out my insides. I’ll point to the place where it hurts — so familiar I could draw a map blindfolded, just beneath the rib cage.

Don’t tell me I can’t get what I want until I don’t want it anymore. Don’t tell me that my begging, pleading desperation for someone who complements me and understands my struggle is a sense of entitlement.

Don’t tell me someone is a new creation when memories and consequences remain.

Don’t encourage me to settle. Don’t coax me back from hoping love will be everything I hope it to be. Don’t tell me it’s not a big deal when all I’ve ever told is that it is. Don’t tell me I bring it up too much. It’s part of who I am. Don’t make me betray myself.

Don’t make me feel guilty for choosing not to adopt scars and ghosts that aren’t mine. Don’t insist it’s my obligation to accept regrets because I have none, for the sake of spreading them more evenly.

Don’t assume just because that is a roadblock in pursuing someone that it is the only one. Maybe I just don’t love them.

Don’t criticize. I need assurance and affirmation. The world laughs at me, tells me I am not wholly man, not wholly grown.

Don’t ignore or invalidate my hunger, or the strength and dedication it’s taken to restrain it. Don’t point fingers at me if I bow my head with the weight of despair that I am alone and will never find what I seek.

Don’t rob me of my peace, or demand I surrender it. Don’t remind me how alone I am. Don’t plunge me back into that maddening cloud of thought. Don’t insist it’s different.

Don’t bring up the unfaithful. I am hurt and angry and frustrated with them. Don’t mention those who were complicit; I want to hurt them like they hurt me.

Don’t assume I don’t want to talk about it. I do. I am restraining my natural impulse to protect others.

Don’t. Please.

November 18, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness, Purity, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

All My Tomorrows

“Today I may not have a thing at all
Except for just a dream or two
But I’ve got lots of plans for tomorrow
And all my tomorrows belong to you

Right now it may not seem like spring at all
We’re drifting and the laughs are few
But I’ve got rainbows planned for tomorrow
And all my tomorrows belong to you

No one knows better than I
That luck keeps passing me by that’s fate
But with you there at my side
I’ll soon be turning the tide just wait

As long as I’ve got arms that cling at all
It’s you that I’ll be clinging to
And all the dreams I dream, beg or borrow
On some bright tomorrow they’ll all come true

And all my bright tomorrows belong to you
As long as I’ve got arms that cling at all
It’s you that I’ll be clinging to
And all the dreams I dream, beg or borrow
On some bright tomorrow they’ll all come true
And all my bright tomorrows belong to you.”

Frank Sinatra

November 17, 2012 Posted by | Songs | Leave a comment

Winter is Coming

 “But the summer fades and the days grow short
And the autumn winds they blow
And the leaves of gold come tumbling down
To the forest far below
Memories of other days come tumbling from the past
To remind us, like the seasons do
That life goes by so fast…”

Dear Darling,

Winter is coming.

There is honestly something I can find to love about every season, and something to make me anticipate the next.

But I do like this season so! I like the fog breath in the air, the smell of exhaust in the morning, the slow tingly sensation of the car warming up. I love the crystal clear frigidity of nights looking at the stars. I love the  chilly winter sunrises and the glittery frost. I love the geese flying south, the smell of central heating and harvest candles and potpourri. I like driving past the steaming creeks, and bundling up against the cold.

Call me strange, but I always thought a girl looked more attractive when bundled up in her winter best…the gloves, scarf, boots, coat, and hair gently flowing out from beneath a snow-white winter cap.

I like wearing coats and jackets. I like my coat, warm, soft and dark, buttoned all the way up, with a scarf tucked inside the neck and a pair of black leather gloves.

I love Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and New Years. I love the decorations, the Christmas music, the snow. There’s so many traditions with my family…the tree, the food, the presents, the rituals, the customs. I can’t wait to introduce to them all to you. The one thing they’ve lacked is someone new to share them with!

I love what the season represents, and what it will represent for us.

I can see us sitting together in front of the fire with the lights out, quietly musing as the flames crackle and our shadows dance.  Meeting under the mistletoe for our annual Christmas kiss. I can see us dressing up for holiday parties, throwing snowballs at each other, sneaking around for Christmas, and seeing friends or family again. I see us slow-dancing to soft Christmas music. I see you and I trying to live up to our own expectations for Christmas, failing sometimes, but making our own traditions as we go.

Did you know that each place I travel, I buy an ornament? When the time for our tree rolls around, I will have a story to tell you about each one of them. And when we marry, we will buy an ornament. And for our children, and for life occasions. Our Christmas tree ornaments each will tell a story of our lives.

I see us ringing in the New Year together, quietly at home or with family or maybe going to a party if we can find one sober enough.

I think, Darling, I should like to throw a singles ball one day. I should like to hold old time Christmas dances and New Years parties. I like the idea of holding dinners and banquets and balls, the better to socialize with a community and for a community, the way it was done in the old days. You with your “lady of the house” dress, and me with my black top hat and tails, with live music and ballroom dancing.

You and I, love…we’ve got a lot of life ahead of us. I had hoped 2012 would be the year I found you. That’s looking unlikely, but who knows what miracle the Lord may sweep out of the shadows. I’m filled with hope and sadness combined as I look to another season without you, but in which I can see you and our future memories together in every moment.

Love,
Beren

“Winter lays her fingers cold
On dark and lonely nights
But christmas it will soon be here
To usher in the light
And when morning breaks and the bells ring out
It is such a joyous sound
To hear them echo in the trees
That are green the whole year ’round.”

Celtic Woman

November 15, 2012 Posted by | Holidays | 1 Comment

Dark Side

Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me? Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect, but we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me? Even with my dark side?
Kelly Clarkson

Dear Darling,

I’m not perfect, you know.

I don’t want to give you (or anyone) the wrong impression.

I don’t want you to think that I am only the sum of these letters. I don’t want to portray my halo as more golden than it is, or make you think I am history’s greatest lover destined for history’s greatest romance. In the end, I am just a man. I am flawed. I can be angry and impatient, selfish and sad. In my passion for justice and righteousness, sometimes I miss the truth of mercy.

I can be proud. I have reason to be, but that’s no excuse. Sometimes I come across as inconsiderate, judgmental, or arrogant. Sometimes I seem like a brutish lout and don’t even realize it. Sometimes I have trouble connecting with people, so I stay silent, or my connections themselves become somewhat awkward. Sometimes I take charge of a situation because no one else will, but then I try to scale back because I don’t want to just assume control.

Sometimes when I think I’m right, I get lost in trying to prove I’m right, and lose sight of the bigger picture. I’m too logical and sometimes too dispassionate. Those who argue with me become exasperated, insisting I can’t just logic my way through everything. Sometimes people get mad at me because they cannot hurt me.

In fact, a wise older mentor spoke to this recently. Ironically, she was angry at me for having missed a meeting due to a miscommunication, adding stress to her life. But we sorted it out, and had a thoughtful discussion. She told me I was strong and grounded. She said I would oftentimes have to stand alone, and should do so without anger or sadness. She had me with her right until the end, until she said without anger or sadness. I had to ask her how I was supposed to do that. Her answer was good but not entirely satisfactory given my experience. She told me some people would resent me, even subconsciously, for being strong.

Isn’t that the most ironic thing of all? I turned out to be the strong one.

Well Darling, I’m not always. I’m not always any of the things you read in these letters, good or bad. You know by now that sometimes, in mind and soul, I go to a very dark place. Some even wonder if I am depressed. I’m not. Some say I’m absurd to think finding you would be the cure of such feelings. You may not cure everything, but my love with you will complete what I feel I need to forgo complaints.

See, I am usually someone who takes the world as it finds him, and whatever pains or trials find me are meant to find me. If I did not choose the path that led me to that darkness, then I am content that my Father sent me them for a reason.

I know you’ll have a dark side too. Everyone does. You’ll have things to fret and fear about. You’ll have battles, things you don’t like about yourself. As long as they are not the gravest of darknesses such as being unfaithful to me, I’m okay with that. Believe it or not, that’s what will make me even more attracted to you. When you are made to heal and support and serve like I am, how can you be happy unless you can put forth that art and skill? Warriors fight, lovers love and healers heal. (Actually, I’m all three.)

I just don’t want to deceive you. I don’t want to mislead you or raise your standard so high that you forget I am human.

In a way, these letters have helped me as much as you. They help me figure out who I am. They help me process my life, and understand or come to grips with my experiences. They make me realize what I really want and who I am. What’s important, and what’s not. They make me understand how much I love you, and they make me a little afraid that all I’ll ever be able to do is express my love in letters, and that in person I’ll be far less interesting or affectionate than my writings suggest.

Or maybe Darling…maybe you and I will be so amazing together that we’ll make these letters seem like the bland scribblings of an inelegant nine-year-old.

One day we’ll find out.

Until then.

Love always,
Beren

November 11, 2012 Posted by | About Me | Leave a comment

To Red

“Day after day, you treat me any old way
I wanna go but my heart says no
Acting so strange, but my love still remains
So keep on trying boy; she’s gonna change
Well I’ve been trying
Lord knows how I’ve been trying
But I can’t understand why
Can’t I be your only man?”

Phil Collins

Aw Red.

I’m not sure if I’m mad at you or if I miss you. I don’t think we spent enough time together to know. All I know is that there was great potential —  an opportunity we could have had.

On “paper” you and I were great for each other. You have a servant’s heart. You have great ambition and great achievement. You are beautiful, but you deny it. You one day hope to be a mother and homemaker. You’re the best kind of weird…like me. You’ve done your best to remain pure, and I count you as such. You’re frugal and big on being debt-free. Oh, and you’re tall. I’ve always thought tall girls deserved a guy who was taller than them.

I’ll not deny, there were a few things I internally thought “Hmm, we’ll have to work on that” but c’mon, you thought the same about me, and probably justly so. Isn’t that part of the fun of any relationship? Working out the kinks and quirks together? Compromise in some form or fashion is inevitable, and as far as it seemed, you had just the right amount of things I was willing to let go.

We’re lost souls, you and I —  lost because we’re found. Lost souls always belong together. Especially the ones that serve God, and are left behind by the world, and who choose to shrug it off, dig in and become six different kinds of awesome.

Now granted, that first (last) date was a tad rocky in retrospect. We stayed out way too late talking, and I was almost a zombie working off 2 hours of sleep and a 12-hour shift. But I thought it went way better than you seemed to think I did. I mean, seriously, when’s the last time someone just sat and just listened to you like that before, or asked about your troubles and felt for you in your situation? You thought you’d scare me away by telling me the struggles you’ve faced. You did exactly what I’ve always wanted…started with the worst and worked your way back. I wasn’t phased by it all, and somehow I thought you’d be more pleased by that. I thought you’d be thrilled and overjoyed to find someone of the caliber you sought who also accepted your struggles without judgment. I thought for half a second you might throw your arms around me. I would. But it didn’t seem to matter to you.

Remember, you apologized that you sometimes shed your hair? The next day I went back to the car and searched until I found a few strands, and kept them in a safe place in case this night was worth remembering. And yeah, I told you about it, but I figured you’d find it cute, and maybe start to give you a clue that I’m not like any guy you’ve ever met.

I thought you wanted me to hang around so we could know each other better. But you kept turning down (or ignoring, or even breaking) the dates I asked you out on. I know you think I’m arrogant, but do you have any idea how high a compliment it is for me to ask a girl out?

I thought you were feeling a little lost, and wanted someone who could prop you up when you were teetering. You were kind of a wounded soul, and I know you hate that, but I’m kind of a sucker for those. Lets me flex my hero muscles. I thought you needed a friend and confidant, and I was moved to compassion. I tried to be available and listening. You were broken, but resolute. I tried to comfort your heart, and you snapped at me. I told you how beautiful you were (that’s what I said when we first made contact, remember?) and you just waved it away with that silly “eye of the beholder” line. I reminded you that while I was proud of many of my accomplishments, they didn’t hold a candle to yours. I thought you wanted to vent your frustrations, your sorrows, your angers, your fears, so I asked about them, tried to show you I cared. I wanted to make things all better, or at least be there for you until they were. You told me I was arrogant to think I could. That stung. Isn’t that what a woman’s man is for? You never even gave me the chance to try. You told me your love language was gifts. I count three, over the span of our nine or ten-month acquaintance.

You said you wanted someone to figure you out, because sometimes even you couldn’t figure you out. Yet there I was telling you things about yourself that you hadn’t figured out, catching idiosyncrasies and pegging them with pretty accurate explanations.

You sent me an e-mail that one night, remember? You told me I had already made a difference in your life, that you appreciated and admired who I am and what I stand for. You thought it was sappy, but it really built me up. I don’t get a lot of that. It was the most precious thing I’d read in ages. I thought to myself, if you could keep an attitude like that, you and I might get along well together for the rest of our lives.

I came home early from a vacation so we could go out, and you claimed sickness. So after a five hour drive back home, I drove out of my way to leave you flowers and a get-well card in your mailbox. You were grateful, but the next time I invited you out, it was another fiasco. I finally point this out, and you accused me of keeping score. Yes, I was mad, but only because I felt I was getting brushed off. That’s how it would look to anyone in my shoes! You kept assuming I was giving you the kiss-off when all I was trying to do is get you to understand how you were coming across.

I sent you songs and links I thought would have meaning to you. You never watched or mentioned them, and if I asked, you said you hadn’t had time. (Girl, this is just me, but if someone I’m interested in sends me a link they say will have meaning to me, I leap at the first chance to check it out.)

Our grandmothers are buried in the same cemetery. We’re on the same type of medication. You hadn’t been on many family vacations and I thought it would be really awesome if we wound up married so we could do things like that together. You’re not the first person my mind wandered down a hypothetical history book with, but you really were the first viable option that my mind looked at and exchanged excited glances with the heart about.

You had a honeymoon “to-do” list. I told you that was hot. I rarely tell anyone that, ever. I didn’t tell you it turned me on.

I told you a few secrets, and you told me a few. (I understood you a little better after I read about that one condition in my textbook the other day.) I don’t normally talk about some of those things, and I suspect you don’t either. We trusted each other…fast. I still have a necklace I bought for you when I was on the island earlier in the year — the island where I worked hard every day and then stayed up late at night e-mailing you from my phone. I still have that bucket list you sent me too.

I kept checking in even after you told me you didn’t want to talk anymore. I thought maybe you needed a friend who could stick around even when your own self-defeating instincts made you clam up.

We finally started talking again, a little. You opened back up…a little. I finally felt like I was worth something more than nothing when you turned to me in a moment of grief. I even called you up at 2am on Christmas morning to let you cry to me about missing your grandmother.

I asked you what you really wanted, what you would do if you could do almost anything. You told me a shopping trip to that one store would be nice. I went to the store, picked out a gift card and mailed it to you. Turned out it was your birthday and I didn’t even know. I was basically the only guy who gave you a gift. C’mon Red, didn’t that mean anything to you? Any moron can throw some flowers and candy at you, but a tall Christian who’s waiting for marriage and is basically everything else you describe, who listens and comforts and accepts, but who also puts time and thought and effort into the gifts he randomly sends you to cheer you up — AFTER you’ve given him the cold shoulder a few times? I mean…what’s it take?

There were other buckets of cold water. Alone in a strange city in a strange hotel room late at night, reaching out for your friendship, and you responded that’ you’d be right back…and you never did. With no further prompting, it took you a couple of days to check back in, and then to see if I was alright because you hadn’t heard from me.

You said you’d been trying more lately, and for goodness sake I was communicating clearly that I didn’t feel like you were giving much back, and even offered ideas on what that looked like for me, like waking up to find texts in the morning. I finally eased my way into asking you if you’d like to see where I work and have lunch some time. You told me you weren’t yet wiling to visit my workplace…and you ignored the lunch request. You ignored it.

Like an idiot, I circled back a month or two later. We had some frank chats. I helped you strategize about some of your problems. We had some chats about your music piracy and the R-rated movies you watched. You ultimately suggested we just weren’t compatible. After some thought, I agreed. Then, like usual, you got mad and said goodbye. Again. You NEVER seem to have it in you to fight for what you care for.

Well Red, that pretty much did me in. I spend too much time worrying about other people and sometimes forget to worry about myself. You know that. I finally had to start worrying about myself. As much as I hated it, it meant letting you go. I didn’t realize how much stress you were putting on me until afterwards. I was doing everything I knew how to do, but the more I gave, the less I got. I’ve never sent flowers to a girl before, and since you seem to dislike me or toy with me so much, part of me regrets that you’re the first girl I did that for, if it was viewed with such contempt.

I know you feel trapped. I can’t fathom the depths you’ve descended to, whence you both insult and assault the attempts of a good-hearted man to be there for you. I don’t understand the mindset of someone who fires arrows at the rescue party. I don’t understand how you could feel hurt and slighted when I told you I felt you were hiding something, only to be proven right. I think only now I’m starting to understand…you’re in no place for a relationship. That would explain why you thought you were reaching out when you weren’t. The tiniest of efforts exhausted you, and you were frustrated when I was frustrated that they didn’t amount to much.

I don’t know what you want. Maybe you don’t either. It’s hard for a guy like me to find a girl like you, let alone for you to find someone like me. That’s why it’s so sad to me. If I’m half the guy you say you’re looking for, I can’t understand why you wouldn’t treat me better. I stayed up late into the night to talk to you, giving up valuable hours of my sleep just because it was the only time you were free, even though I had to be up for work. That didn’t mean much to you. I didn’t get much of a thank-you, or an acknowledgement of that sacrifice. Oh sure, you texted “thanks” here and there. Maybe you really meant it. Maybe I’m just the only one who makes sure I go out of my way to thank someone profoundly if they went out of their way for me.

What do I want? I don’t know anymore. I’m fine with drama and darkness if you don’t choose or create them. I know you hate that it’s in your life, but it’d be silly to deny it. I’d like something simpler and easier. I’d love for you I want you to come back and say you’re sorry, and you really do like me a lot, and what can you do to make it up to me?

I know what I don’t want. I don’t want to be the only one that looks interested. I don’t want to be the only one prompting conversations, texting throughout the day, the only one asking how you’re doing, or the only one listening. I don’t want short, terse answers, even if it does include smiles and an lol or two. I don’t want to be the only one that cares. And nine months is plenty of time to prove up on that.

You seem to be left frustrated at my perceptions. I’m just frustrated you can’t see it the way anybody else would. I’m frustrated that I can’t ever seem to connect with the kind of woman I’m looking for. And I’m frustrated that I never can get close enough to someone that it hurts to part company.

For a time, you were a bright spot on the horizon. I thought you were the sun I’ve been looking for, but suns get brighter as you draw nearer. We could have ruled the world. It could have been amazing.

I’m sorry this is so long. In the words of Pascal, “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” (I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.)

-Beren

November 10, 2012 Posted by | Other Letters | 1 Comment

#24: We’ll Get There

Dear Darling,

I am sure the years stretch and dwindle on for you as much as me. It’s taking forever to find each other, and our friends, whether virtuous or not, seem to find their bliss and reward far earlier than you and I.

Hear my words carefully, my darling bride: We’re going to get there.

I promise. I promise we’ll get where we both want to be. It may take a while. It may not be the storybook beginning. It may not be easy, simple or fanciful in the end. But sooner or later, somehow, some way, I promise I’ll find you. I promise we’ll find each other. I promise our day will come.

We’ll find bliss at last. We’ll weep alone no more. We’ll have a reason to be grateful every day of our lives, and in leaning on each other, even the most bitter of moments will be sweeter.

Darling, I’ll be everything I know how to be for you. I’ll be your husband and a father. I’ll be a brother-in-law and son-in-law. I’ll be your lover and protector. I’ll sing to you, and serve you, and surprise you. I’ll care for you and hug you and comfort you. I’ll heal you, make you laugh, make you cry. I’ll beam with pride when you stand there in the bedroom door, looking so fine and ready for a night out. I’ll be your leader and your punching bag, your sounding board and your listener. I’ll be your fix-it guy, your great romancer and your provider. I’ll be your man. I’ll love you.

My beautiful bride, we serve the One who sees all ends. His plan is wonderful, his timing is perfect. If we say we trust Him, then we must trust Him. Even when it’s hard, even when it’s frustrating and sorrowful, and the nights of loneliness erode your heart and consume your soul. I don’t understand it all, but I know that God is there in the silence and the vacuum, and His plan is present even when we feel friendless, abandoned and alone.

Cling to these promises, Luthien. Bind them around your heart. Cling to God’s word, cry out to Him in these moments. Your soul is never alone, even if your body is. Hold tight to our Savior. Trust Him.

Our day will come. It will. One day you’ll round the curve and I’ll be there waiting for you. (Bring a tissue, those aren’t raindrops on my cheeks.)

Until then, always remember I love you. I’m praying for you. And I’m waiting for you with all my heart.

I promise.

Love always,
Beren

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness, Promises | 1 Comment

Trapped

“Where are the heroes
In my time of need
Is my cry not loud enough
Or have they gone all numb?

They just stand and stare
Out of the rain
Thinking but not acting
That they’re not to blame…”
Within Temptation

Dear Darling,

I feel trapped tonight; trapped by loneliness. The road is so long…so long. The horizon is never-ending, and everyone else has gone on ahead. I find myself wanting to retreat inside myself, away from the world. But there’s only so far into that cave you can crawl. You can’t escape your own heart, you can’t flee from something that isn’t there to begin with.

I feel those resurgent feelings of abandonment, frozen outside the universe and wanting to escape back in. And the greatest sting is knowing I’m here because I chose the high road. I followed a higher calling, and now I’m walking a road with terrible drops on either side, a frigid headwind, and no companion with whom to link arms as we go.

I feel like I see too much. Like I’m weighed down by the sin and evil, isolated by virtue.

People are driving me crazy, and I can’t catch a break. One friend, ostensibly a good friend, became engaged just two days past. He did not wait, but she did. He sewed his wild oats, and now he reaps the harvest of virtue with the woman he has always dreamed of being with. His fiancee, incidentally, is a girl who many said would make a suitable match for me, but who was incredibly cold to me when I greeted her at work. This is the same friend who was invited to our mutual friend’s wedding when I was not. Another friend of mine posted photos of his wedding. I was invited, but he lives out of state and it was a silly cheap Star Wars theme anyway. (Sorry love, I don’t see us making our solemn oaths and covenants before Almighty God dressed as Han Solo and Princess Leia.)

Oh yes, and I also learned that a young lady I greatly admired and respected from afar is shacked up with her fiancee. Remind me to tell you that story one day, my dear. The lady I called the Nightingale, the virtuosa who was indeed quite famous.

And then I saw Friend-Zone again, and my heart hits the roof of my chest. She never even glances my direction, and what could I say to her anyway? I am simply perplexed that a door thoroughly shut in my face (slammed, really) still evokes reactions unbidden, and even as I despise these feelings, I welcome them as extrinsic to my own existence, and introducing a new feeling into a stale heart.

Then a complete stranger comes up to me at work and proceeds to vent her entire life’s story to me, her woes and her struggles and her trials. Darling, ordinarily I would look on her tenderly as a wounded soul in need of healing and compassion. Tonight, I could not. I listened for the better part of fifteen minutes, and made excuses to leave. I hugged her, I encouraged her, I wished her well, and I told her where she might go to receive true help, but I am neither counselor nor clergyman. There are many burdens in the world to be sure, but I bear my own, and have not the strength for the burdens of others, especially when I am weary, unwilling and unawares.

I have recently had disputes with family members I love, in which they are thoroughly unwilling to consider their own role in the dispute, nor enter into my own perspective and understand it.

These are the times when grim resignation sets in. I block the friends who aren’t there for me. I feel like telling off everyone I ever gave to who left or ignored me when I needed them. Naturally, this would simply make me the temperamental and bitter old soul who vents his frustration on people who believe they share no blame.

These are the times when all I can do is laugh that laughter of the sad and cynical…the laugh that is borderline madness, because my need is for tears. It’s an uncontrollable bitter reaction to an uncontrollable and bitter life.

Once again, the question of purity comes back to haunt. I think it would be so much easier to wait if everyone else did too. If the world was not replete with those gorging themselves on the feasts of the flesh, if I wasn’t surrounded by those who discard their virtue for pleasure, I wouldn’t feel as lonely or deprived. I wouldn’t feel like I’m the only one. But Darling, I’m not convinced God cares anymore. Look at the way he treats impurity in the Old Testament. Look at the way it’s treated now. Does He really care so much? Look at my “friend”. He is marrying the girl of his dreams, the girl he has spoken of so often about. He despaired of being with her, and yet now, he who slept with multiple women in college, finds religion again and finds his reward in the virtuous and pure woman who waited. I am filled with an envy and a rage, a sense that the pure should remain with the pure, and let those who plunged into the filth of lustful waters find their contentment with their own kind. I am sure this is not an attitude of God, but it is what I feel.

I guess I’m waiting because God said to. But I’m also waiting because I’m leaning on this increasingly frail hope that you’re waiting too…that we find each other unplundered, unspoiled. I think…I think if I were somehow magically able to know about you, and was told my beloved future bride would not wait, I wouldn’t wait either. What a horrible confession, a horrible realization. But there doesn’t seem to be any point. My head is bowed low not in defeat, but in despair of virtue. I know people wait, but I can never find the woman that intersects the things I seek. I really don’t see God getting bent out of shape. He is gracious, and glory to Him for it. But one of my greatest hopes (and fears) is whether or not you waited. If you can’t give me over to tears of joy by looking me in the eye and telling me you loved me enough to wait, then most of my reason (and hope) is destroyed. There is a strange freedom in the steely resignation of “so be it.”  There is invincibility and resolve that comes from killing hope.

But oh Darling, faint visions of joy still linger in the distance. There is hope and hunger for the destiny which has yet to be fulfilled, or illuminated, or even unwrapped.

A face is a key to happiness. A smile can heal. Your face among thousands or millions in the crowd will set my heart to overflowing delight. Just to see you. You will be the one to make my heart careen against my chest wall. We will belong together. Your smile will give me beauty and hope and strength. It will heal me, Darling, it will! And I’ll give back everything you give to me, and heal you, and lift you up.

We are but two worlds on separate orbits, two ingredients held apart by some unseen delay, pensive and poised, waiting for life to begin.

I love you with all of my being. Our separation is God’s will. Let us trust that He will bring us together in His time. Until then, think of me, pray for me and wait for me, my dearest love.

Yours,
Beren

November 5, 2012 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These, Purity | 1 Comment