Well yesterday I published quite an excited post about how amazing everything is, and my beautiful dreams of a beautiful marriage, and being unapologetically in love with myself and who God has created me to be….
And then of course, since then I’ve reflected. The first thing that occurred to me is that it might be a bit insensitive to publish a post about how amazing everything is when so many awful things are happening around the world. I know that awful things happen all the time, and if I were to pay attention to them all the time then I would never allow myself to publish anything excited. And yet things recently have been particularly bad. At this time I have to mention the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shootings. We hear of so many US mass shooting tragedies, largely resulting from America’s stubborn refusal to tighten its gun laws. I must admit that my first thoughts on hearing about this latest shooting were “Here we go yet again!” But then on reading further especially about the individuals affected, a well of compassion broke out within me. I found particularly heartbreaking the story of Eddie Justice, who texted his mother Mina to tell her he loved her, and then explained the mortal danger he was in. I so wanted him to have survived, for his own sake, and also for his mother’s sake. However he was sadly one of the ones confirmed killed. In a way the shootings were made even worse because of the homophobic nature of the killing – to know that these people were deliberately targeted because they were gay, and/or in a gay setting.
So yes, to have burst into a rhapsody of excitement so soon after such a tragedy was possibly ill-judged.
But then thinking more about it, it occurred to me that in a way here is the difference between marriage/life in “Fantasyland” and marriage/life in the real world. This is a big issue I’ve struggled with from the beginning on this blog. It is so easy for me to enter into this world of my imagination where everything works as it should, and all is in order, it is always sunny, and imagine my marriage taking place in that dream world, where the only issues my husband and I will have to deal with are interpersonal issues between ourselves. This dream world does not take account of terrorism or serious illness or lost jobs or company downsizing. And yet these are the things that make up life in the real world; these are the things that real marriages have to encounter and deal with. Obviously for a marriage to work it has to flourish not only in that perfect, unrealistic world of my imagination, but also down here in the mess, chaos, unpredictability, disappointment and frequent heartbreak of the real world in which we all actually live.
This is an understanding that I have got to build into my expectation of marriage. This is one big, big area in which I must admit that my singleness is a disadvantage when writing these posts. I find it too easy to start dreaming based on unrealistic expectations and to be honest I love these expectations so much that I find it hard to let them go, even though I know they are unrealistic!
I guess then a further essential characteristic for my husband is this: someone who is not only excited about his life and his potential, but someone who is also deeply grounded in reality, someone who can acknowledge the real, difficult issues that are happening around him, and who can work to bring life and joy and grace in a meaningful way within these real issues.