Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

#18: To Grow Old Together

“Remember when
We said when we turn gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad
For all the life we’ve had…
And we’ll remember when.”
Alan Jackson 

Did you know your grandparents?

I never did. Not really. One set of grandparents was mean and unkind and distant. The other died when I was too little to appreciate their presence and influence in my life.

I don’t know what it’s like to have extended family that cares, that can fill that loving, indulgent role mythologized by movies and comics. I don’t know what it’s like to go over to the grandparents’ for Christmas, or to have Grandma fix a plate of cookies. I’ve never had someone to model that “aged love.”

Yeah, kind of sad.

But aren’t old couples wonderful to watch? Don’t they give you hope and restore your faith in a love that lasts? There’s plenty of old couples I run into, especially at church or work. They fascinate me, and I get along with them better than most of my own peers. Old couples are like living history. Their memories reach decades into the past, to a time which you and I can only read about in encyclopedias.

There’s nothing more beautiful to see than an old couple still in love: wrinkled lips that still kiss affectionately, wizened hands that still reach for each other, every little action and gesture that has weathered the storms and found to be true by test of time.

Who wouldn’t want that kind of love?

That’s what I want our love to be. No one can promises how long we’ll walk the earth. Truthfully dear, I’m inclined to burn up this body and this life in bright service for the King. I may arrive in my coffin a little earlier than most, and perhaps a little more worn, but that is not mine to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. All I can do is my King’s bidding.

But I promise you now, that for whatever span of years God gives us, I will spend them with you.

I promise we will grow old together.

In the eyes of the world, time will wear away whatever beauty you or I may have had. That’s why they say beauty is only skin-deep…the skin wears out. Our hair will thin and turn gray, our bodies will grind down from the years’ decay. That’s why it’s been so hard to find you, my darling. If I looked no further than the surface, it would have been easy. We have to be able to look past all that, even when beauty glows brightly. We have to be sure we have loved more than just that which fades.

“Deep hearts, sage minds, take life as God has made it; it is a long trial, an incomprehensible preparation for an unknown destiny. This destiny, the true one, begins for a man with the first step inside the tomb. Then something appears to him, and he begins to distinguish the definitive. The definitive, meditate upon that word. The living perceive the infinite; the definitive permits itself to be seen only by the dead. In the meanwhile, love and suffer, hope and contemplate. Woe, alas! to him who shall have loved only bodies, forms, appearances! Death will deprive him of all. Try to love souls, you will find them again.” – Victor Hugo

I’m looking for the soul that burns straight and true, the soul I can find again, whose unending devotion and service will not dim with the passing of years, and who is not afraid to step into life’s twilight if she walks with her Lord and with her husband.

For the measure of grace our Lord gives us, I will indeed walk those years with you.

I promise.

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Promises | 1 Comment

#17: To Pursue You

Out of curiosity, did you think the letters would end when we got married?

Ha ha.

Oh sure, I know other guys feel like they can relax. Having won the chase, once you’re wearing their ring, they don’t need to pursue their brides anymore. It’s a one-and-done, or perhaps won-and-done.

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not like other guys. That ring you’ll be wearing? It’s something to show the world you’re mine and you belong to someone, sure, but to me it’s like a marking or a brand homing signal, something that only one person in the entire world is allowed to wear. And it’s only the start.

Since there are times I can express myself better through words, I wouldn’t expect my letters to stop suddenly once we’re married. (But if it’s a good honeymoon, I would expect a bit of a hiatus.)

I don’t want to be the guy who lets his marriage get old, cold and stale, who lets the surprise fade or spark die. I want to make all the women envy you, and I want God to use our marriage as an example to others.

I suppose it’s hard to say what travails life has in store for us, and what devastating blows might suck the sweetness out of our life together. Although I’ve been blessed, sometimes it seems like I’ve never known anything but sadness and success. Still, God may have some epic unhappiness waiting for us down the road.

Still. I want you to know, I plan never to abandon pursuing you.

I plan on leaving those little notes on the mirror, or the coffee pot or the microwave. I might leave them in your coat pocket, or wrapped around one of your makeup bottles. I’ll leave notes in books you might not open for years, and send you those droll, cutesy little texts during the day.

I’ll send flowers for no reason at all, surprise you with tickets or a dinner out, or suddenly kiss you like mad randomly and out of the blue.

I plan on reminding you, even years later, that I still love you. I always have, and I always will.

Promise.

March 7, 2012 Posted by | Promises | Leave a 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

#15: To ROCK Valentine’s Day

I’m not gonna lie. Valentine’s Day is just another lousy reminder that we haven’t met yet.

Right now, it’s just another day to me. The sun rose and set on Valentine’s Day 2012 with nothing special about it.

That’s a problem.

But here’s the thing. When we’re together, I plan to rock Valentine’s Day for you.

No really. It’s going to be amazing.

I was talking with a single Christian friend of mine over dinner the other night. With the then-impending amorous holiday gracing the stores, we each shared our cynically amusing intentions for the day, and we both agreed that one day when we each are married, Valentine’s Day for our spouses will be magnificent.

It’s funny how low the bar has been set for romance. A colleague at work today was given a little bear and some roses and her other co-workers squealed. They squealed. As if this tiny gesture was some great triumph above and beyond the call of duty. My dearest future wife, this is the barest minimum I could ever imagine the world reducing me to.

But I don’t pledge yours to be splendid simply because the world has such low standards. It’s that that I’ll have amazing plans.

Can you imagine what it would be like right now if someone – someone who knows you more intimately than any of your friends or family – sat down and planned an entire day purposed just for your happiness?

Of course, I don’t yet know how to make you happy. Yet. I don’t know what trappings and pleasures and playthings give your heart joy.

So, start making a list. Whaddya like? Candlelight dinners in fine restaurants? Something hand-cooked with mood music and dimmed lights? Slow-dancing to jazz music in our living room? Scented oils and rose petals in the bath tub? I mean, come on. It’s your world. Customize it.

I bought a rose and took it by a friend’s house tonight. She and I went on a few dates, but decided it was best to remain just friends. (And friends we remain!) I told her that I ran into her future husband tonight, and while he sent his deepest regrets that he couldn’t come, he asked me to bring her a rose. And so I did.

I also presented roses to my sisters with the same message.

God says to do unto others what we’d have done to us. I know that if some noble young fellow gave a rose to my wife on my behalf, in token of the roses yet to be given by my hand, I should shake his with much respect and admiration upon meeting. I hope I did her future groom a service, and I hope some day someone will do the same for me.

If not, then my darling, I’m just around the corner, waiting at the end of the dark and lonely tunnel. Roses in hand.

Promise!

February 15, 2012 Posted by | Holidays, Promises | Leave a comment

#14: I Will Pray For You

Here’s one promise you won’t have trouble believing. You see, I’ve already been praying for you.

Since I was eleven.

No seriously, that’s how young I started. One day my mother suggested that I should be praying for the girl I’m going to marry. So I did. And ever since then I have been praying for you, my future bride.

Of course, during my younger years, it didn’t happen as often. But for the last five years at least, I’ve prayed for you at least once a day. On those rare occasions when there’s been another girl on the horizon, I’ve prayed for her, and then prayed for you.

Sometimes, I only say “and Lord, be with my future bride today.”

Other times, I sit and pray for you extensively. It’s not easy since I don’t know you, but I try to think of all your needs. I pray for God to bless you through whatever trials you’re facing. For Him to give you a special and even mysterious feeling of peace and happiness right at that moment. For Him to make His love and grace known to you, to reach out and touch you in your sorrow, to hold your hand, pull you close, take your grief away. To provide you with friends. For you not to feel the same aches of loneliness that I do.

In short, I ask Him to do the all things for you that I can’t.

But somehow, I don’t think He will. I think He made us for the expressed purpose of making each other happy and satisfied in a way that not even God Himself intends to fulfill.

Some day, while I am praying, an idea of who you are will creep in. Slowly at first, and I’ll continue to pray for you as my future bride. But somewhere along the way I’m going to meet a girl (you) who will gradually blend with that unknown bridal silhouette in my mind, so that one day I will pray for my future bride, knowing who it is.

One day you’ll start praying for me too, if you haven’t already.

And one day we’ll pray together…not the showy, self-conscious prayers of people who pray in public and must be mindful of time and tone, but the intimate, private prayers of two souls laid bare before the Lord and each other.

One day you’ll be in your gown, I’ll be in my tuxedo, and we’ll kneel before the Lord to ask His blessing and binding of our covenant love.

One day we’ll lead our children to pray. We’ll have to pray through everything in life. What would it be like if we could sit together now and listen to all the prayers we’ll pray in the next 50 years?

And here I’ve “only” been praying for you for five years. Still. One prayer for you every day for five years. Counting the times where I’ve said more than one prayer, plus the times that go back to my youth, you can be certain that by now I have whispered your unknown name before the Throne at least four thousand times.

Do you doubt my promise now? Do you doubt my love? How could such a love ever go wrong?

Before I sleep tonight, I’ll mention you to God again. He’ll probably smile patiently and listen, even as He bids me to be patient. And He’ll probably cast His eyes over to another corner of the globe, to wherever you are and whatever you’re doing right now. (Is it wrong to envy God in this one instance?)

I suppose it’s too much to hope you’re praying for me too, but you can be sure that by the time we meet and fall in love, our romance will be bathed in prayer.

I promise.

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Promises | 1 Comment

#13: I’ll Never Leave

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

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

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

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

Where would I even have to go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I promise.

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Promises | 4 Comments

#12: To Cherish Your Dreams

What are your dreams, Darling?

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

I’m not talking about those dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I promise.

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

#11: The Little Things

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

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

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

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

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

The color of your eyes.

Your favorite food.

The name of your dog.

The way you like your ice cream.

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

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

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

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

I promise.

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

#10: A Different Kind of Perfect

“I know I need to be in love
I know I’ve wasted too much time
I know I ask perfection of a quite imperfect world
And fool enough to think that’s what I’ll find.” – Carpenters

I’ve always had this dream that I might be the first person you cared for, or to whom you offered your heart.

And because I have had prudent reasons for never pursing a woman’s affections before now, I hoped you would feel the same.

I think it’s because there is power in that first love, a newness and fervor. You don’t forget it, and you seldom repeat it. Those first steps of love are so precious, so treasured. I wanted them always to be ours. I held fairy tale fantasies that ours would be the first and last, great and perhaps among the greatest stories never told. A chance meeting that means everything and nothing at once; a conjunction of two stars whose dim glows are kindled by each other’s presence, and whose bright but weary orbits are forever altered.

I now know that dream is unlikely. Life has taught me that lesson sternly many times now, sadly but deftly strangling that dream to death for my own sake. Did I seek perfection? They say I did. They say I still do. Is that wrong? Is it perfection to hope for what I offer to be returned?

I know I can’t blame you for it, so I’m trying not to.

But I’ll admit it. I’m a little jealous.

I’m jealous that you woke up first, and got to taste this adventure before me. I’m jealous that you embarked on the path of learning, and know more about yourself if not someone else. I’m jealous that you ever put your arms around another man, kissed his lips or went to sleep with him on your mind. I’m jealous that he could have walked among your dreams and wishes, or was allowed to read the mysteries of your eyes. I’m jealous that he hurt you, or that he ever could have.

No one in the stories or songs ever talks about things like this. No one tells you that if you don’t shake yourself awake, life passes you by. They all assume no one would preserve this slumber for the sake of prudence.

I despair at the men of the world today. There are so few knights left, let alone knights who polish their armor. They are not men at all, they’re boys. They are foolish, stupid men, little more than slobbering puppies in heat. How lightly they carry the most precious thing in the world — a woman’s heart! How flippantly they trample the emotions so freely and imploringly given.

A few of them are worth a woman’s time. And if you are half the lady I look for you to be, then surely some who know a good thing when they see it will have already pursued your affections. And by the time we meet, one or two of them will probably have hurt your heart.

I never believed in trying to horn in on another relationship or “steal” someone away. I’m too much of a gentleman and have too high a regard for a woman’s choice.

But for the broken and wounded soul, I will promise you this: I’ll make you forget him.

I’ll make you forget any man that ever stole, or wounded or broke your heart.

My goal is to love you so purely and selflessly and completely that you won’t be able to help it. There’s going to be a cleansing fire of passion with every kiss that purges your mind of every memory but ours. Our love will be so wonderful and sweet, the utter and ultimate beginning.  We’ll love unconditionally. They’ll be the jealous ones in the end. They’re all going to envy what you and I have, every single one of them. They’ll look at us and wish they had a love as great as ours, a tenth of our devotion; they’ll wonder how they ever passed by a woman like you.

We’re going to live a different kind of perfect.

Promise.

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Promises | , | 5 Comments

#9: I Promise…To Be A Father

For years I’ve heard it wished for, from the mouths of many women young and old, and seen the wish hidden in the eyes of still more.

Motherhood.

It astounds me to find that woman craves the fulfillment that comes from childbirth, or that she can love a man so deeply that she desires to give him children. Oh heart of woman, so gentle to nurture the tiniest of new lives, and so stern to endure the agonies of childbirth! To think that you would count it a pleasure worthy of such pains just to give me a son or daughter!

Listen to me when I tell you, I hear your hopes and see the longing of your heart to be a mother.

I promise you: I will be the father of your children…of our children.

Will I see it in your glowing face before either of us know for sure? Will I be able to read your shining eyes even before you sit me down and share your womanly secret…that we are going to be parents?

I will be there for you as your body transitions to grow a new life inside of yours. I will try, and do what I must to muster patience when your pregnancy makes you upset or unhappy. Lean on me for the strength and support.

You will think yourself huge and unattractive to me as your body swells to nurture our child. Wonderfully foolish woman, you will never have looked more beautiful to me.

I know there will be months of aches, pains and turmoil. I wish I could promise you I’ll always know how to make it all better for you. I know there will be difficult days and sleepless nights. I will help you as best I can; wake me up if you can’t sleep, even if only to hold your hand, cradle your head, stroke your hair and whisper you to sleep with visions of our child’s future.

I can see you now, excited to be planning our child’s nursery. The crib here, the curtains there. You’ll be asking me what I think, and I won’t hear a word you’re saying. I’ll be lost in the light of your eyes.

I will do everything I can to hide the looks of worry on my face as the pains of childbirth etch themselves into yours. I will hold your hand, wipe your brow and do anything else I can to ease your pain. I’m sure I’ll be rather desperate for your sake.

I’ll be there to cradle our child. I’ll get up in the night to hum a soft lullaby and (I hope!) ease this precious life back to sleep. I will change diapers — I have changed more than my share already, you know!  (Is it possible I will even teach you how?)

We’ll sit together at night, watching our child sleep. Our child…a part of each of us, made into flesh. Surely this is a corner of the joy of God Himself?

I will teach our sons and daughters right from wrong, I will bring them up in the kingdom of God, and lead them as best I know how. I will stand beside you as each of us pilots this mystery of parenthood.

I will do everything I can to be the father you want me to be.

I promise.

December 18, 2011 Posted by | Promises | 1 Comment