Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When you figure out that love is all that matters after all...

... it sure makes everything else seem so small [So Small, Carrie Underwood]

This entry is mature. Not dirty or inappropriate, but mature, so be forewarned and decide for yourself whether to proceed.

Tonight seemed normal enough- Jason and I snuggled into bed, and we read our respective novels. He just finished the last Harry Potter, and started 1984, which just so happens to be the novel I finished last week. Tonight I was in the last third of Francine Rivers' The Scarlet Thread. He went to sleep before me, because true to Francine's normal form I couldn't put the book down.

After a dozen or so rounds of the "ok, seriously, this is the LAST chapter" game that I oft play when reading at night, I stopped in the middle of a paragraph and just gazed at my sleeping husband. I was overcome with... well, true as it may be, it feels insignificant to call it this... a rush of emotion. Drinking in his dark features on smooth skin, the lay of his lashes, the strength in his forehead, the curve in his lips, overwhelmed me for a moment. I was overwhelmed with how selfish and closed off to him I can be when his sole desire is for all of me. He has visions of romantic showers, for example, and tonight was the Tami-sighing-impatiently-because-Jason-is-in-her-space show. Not my finest moments.

But stretched out next to him, feeling the warmth of his body next to mine and knowing that I'll never sleep the same way again without him next to me, all I could think about was how wonderful my life is because he is woven into every part of it. I turned off my lamp and intended to simply rest my head on his chest and sleep, but I found my fingers tracing his every curve, as if memorizing his shape. I love the way his muscles feel under the flesh of his arms, the way they are so strong and sure even in a resting state. I love the smoothness of his skin- softer than I excepted in a man. I love listening to his heart beat and the sharpness in that glorious bone on his hips.

In my mental husband body map-making, I found him stirring awake and myself crying. I see the vision of the wife I want to be- soft, vulnerable and open, strength defined by humility- and for fleeting moments I think I'm beginning to become her in some deep place. That quickly brings on anguish for the... less wonderful moments that having such an independent personality as my own can bring. As he awoke more and more my tears caught him off guard- I cry at commercials but almost never at my own circumstances- and in a glorious wave of beauty we ended up making the most beautiful love of our married life to date.

It occurred to me afterward that for the first time I really contemplated the beauty in the physical manifestation of two becoming one, woman bringing a man's most sensitive organ into her most intimate place. It wasn't about raw passion and sensual pleasure, but about the symbolism of letting him in. A friend once told me that in her marriage it can be difficult at times to climax not because of the quality of the act, but because of the vulnerability required of the woman to let her husband have access to all of her in those moments- physically, yes, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I never thought I would relate to that, but now I do. It's one thing to just give over to sheer physical pleasure, but another to actually allow a flower bedecked with petals composed of all parts of yourself to bloom under his leading.

We've only been married for two and a half weeks, but the Lord is quickly putting our faith to the test. As previously mentioned, we're studying James, and I love the way the NLT Bible puts these verses:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2&3

Despite being careful with our budget... well, ok, our "budget" is currently to only buy what is absolutely necessary... and my consistent searching for and pursuing of a job, we're in a tough spot financially. My car broke down nearly two months ago, so we have poured nearly a thousand dollars into it, and now it runs worse than when we took it to the shop- so poorly, in fact, that while we could drive it before now we can't do anything until there's money to fix it. At nearly $200 for the diagnostic tests, $70 an hour for labor, and then parts, that makes it tough. Even if I had a full-time job it's a costly fix. The principal where I interviewed two weeks ago told me she absolutely loved me and was utterly impressed with me- but she offered the job to a man with "just a little more experience" than me. That has been the situation, but then this morning the starter went out on Jason's truck. We've been feeling the heat, and it feels like it just keeps getting turned up!

There is hope of a half-time teaching position with a local high school, with additional opportunities in the school via subbing, but that's not a guarantee even with the aforementioned principal saying she was sending my name over for that job. The guy with my car finally brought it back tonight and gave Jason advice on how to get to his starter (long story, but after many hours in the cold and grease stains on his arms that didn't scrub off in the shower, he couldn't get to the top bolt because the drive shaft is in the way). There are opportunities and there is always hope, but it's hard to keep our heads up when bills are due next week and we face having to ask for help, which both of us despise having to do.

In all of this, however, our spiritual life is flourishing. We are getting plugged into a young marrieds group through our church and we have been blessed to find that the people there truly want to love Jesus and not just have a social network; we're seeing the Lord really work in our church and we are getting more deeply involved in ministry there, primarily in the youth ministry where God is clearly leading us to join with the youth minister and to work on a team of people where our individual talents are really utilized and we impact this community for Christ.

I can also write with bold humility (not an oxy moron) that we have been faithful to tithe and even give offerings beyond tithing even when human wisdom would say to use that money on our bills. Yet we have full confidence in our Lord that it's His money, not ours, and that He does not ask for sacrifice so much as obedience, and He will pour out His blessing on those who bring the tithe into His storehouse (local church body). This doesn't mean that tomorrow a $100,000 check will land in our mailbox and pay off all debt and give us a healthy savings account, or even that any money will come our way. We yearn for spiritual blessings- deeper faith, opportunities to share of how the Lord is moving- far more than just money, because money is the easy answer but not necessarily the best answer.

I love this Carrie Underwood song, because it would be easy to get our eyes on these trials, and to think they matter so much more than they do. We want to learn from them, to continue to trust God as He turns up the heat as we question if we're really ready for the oven, and to come out with the dross burned off so that we more purely represent the image of Jesus Christ when inspected. But with all of this, I think of my husband, and our love, and I know that though these trials can at times lead to sour dispositions, they really are trivial compared to what live would be like without him in it.

It's so easy to get lost inside
A problem that seems so big at the time
It's like a river that's so wide it swallows you whole
While you're sitting around thinking about what you can't change
And worrying about all the wrong things
Time's flying by, moving so fast
You better make it count cause you can't get it back

Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands
Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else seem
So small

You know something else I love about Jason? We have a king sized bed, yet he always sleeps on my side, and almost every morning asks me if he stayed close and didn't roll away during the night. Those are the kinds of things that I'll remember in 20 years, not what our financial situation was at the time.

I got up to write this because I couldn't sleep- the words kept tumbling around in my mind; the clanking of them colliding into one another kept sleep at bay. But now, it's written, and I long to snuggle back into my wonderful husband's slumbering and warm body.