what fragmentary rubbidge this world is
You're welcome! Early Christmas present! Something happened that has finally answered the questions I have been asking myself my entire life. [Note: I started thinking about getting married at age 5. For some reason in my 5-year old's mind, I saw myself as the perfect 1950s bride—rolled hair, little hat and veil, long-sleeved jacket. My intended was a 25-year-old employee of my father's. Don't ask, I was a very strange child. Also, that guy is OLD now, but it made total sense at the time because he had beautiful hair.]
At some point in the last year, I stopped thinking about marriage in the sense of "who do I want to live with" (in my imagination, I can live with almost anyone for a reasonable amount of time!) and started thinking about "who do I want to die with." [CRICKETS]
Life is a long death, visible in the decay of our bodies, tangible in nature, felt in current events.
I watched two of my friends experience the death of their mothers, I attended two funerals at my church, I emptied the mousetraps, I tried to tune out politics.
When I was a teenager, I dreaded marrying someone boring, as though it was going to happen accidentally. I would just probably wake up some day married to someone I didn't like. This might have actually happened if I had gotten my way and married in my late teens. (Due to a good dozen years spent reading antique novels, I was under the impression you had to take the first offer you got. My life is a cautionary tale to young homeschooling families: please pay attention to what your children are voraciously consuming, okay, thanks.)
When I was in my early 20s, I began to fear marrying someone who was only nominally Christian. The kind that you meet at churchy events, the kind my state's youth groups and young adult groups and churches are filled with. The kind that put their hands up during the praise and worship songs and then indulges in all manner of sins during the week. The kind who enthusiastically get married young [because sex] and then wind up divorced in a few years [because human nature.] This might have happened if I had gotten my way and married in my early 20s. (Note: I am ALL FOR young marriage for the right reasons!)
The way I feel now is like coming slowly out of a fog filled with half-remembered faces and hands pulling at my clothes. I've made it this far, and I am filled simultaneously with terror and exhilaration. The face I keep my eyes trained on is not completely clear—it doesn't need to be. I'm not sure that's even a face I will be able to see in this lifetime.
I think often about how hard it is to maintain a Christian marriage and household, how hard it is to raise godly children, how hard it is to faithfully serve in your work, church, neighborhood. And I think about the kind of guy I want to do these things with, and he is neither boring nor nominal.
Faithful, kind men with a sense of humor are not exactly gadding about on every corner. Which is fine: choices overwhelm me, they always have. FOMO overwhelms me. Thinking about how I want to live in Christ, and who I want beside me when I die, or when I lose a family member, narrows the choices and possibilities down to one, and it's an incredible relief. The hard times are still coming, statistically speaking. I am looking for one man - just one! - with whom I can dig in and fight everything else to the death (literally!), and ideally still be friends with at the end of the day. So I'm done looking! Looking for this person has been exhausting and disheartening, and I do not have it in me anymore. I have realized it's easier to build friendships and allow them to turn romantic than to build romances and try and make them friendships. (I realize other people have gotten there faster, but you have to remember I live in the woods and do not like people, so it takes me a while.)
A brief note here about the 21st-century Western concept of "The One:" I don't buy it, in the conventional sense. If you're already married, the person you're married to is The One. You are contractually obliged to think and act so. If you're not married, there are theoretically any number of people who could be The One, and I find that insanely stressful. However, I'm starting to find it appealing in a strictly literal sense: there is probably only one guy in the entire world who can tolerate me, whom I could also tolerate. Anyone brave enough to take me on permanently = The One. NO PRESSURE though.
In the midst of these churning thoughts, one of my favorite bloggers posted this article. It's short, so take a minute to read it. THAT is what I had been trying to articulate to myself and those who bravely ask "how's your love life?" - when you are looking at marriage from that perspective, nothing else matters. When I think about the kind of people who serve their spouses in this way, sometimes to the death... that's what I'm aiming for, married or single. Death to self, faithfulness till death. Everything else = fragmentary rubbidge.
The title of this Final Essay from Me On the Subject of Lovelives or Lack Thereof is from a John Donne piece "The Second Anniversary," from "Of The Progresse of the Soule."
My love for Donne is well documented. Talk about simul justus et peccator—the guy could have had that tattooed across his chest. Maybe he did. The whole poem is 2000% worth reading, so here's a link, but I'll close with these lines:
Since His will is, that to posterity
Thou should’st for life and death a pattern be,
And that the world should notice have of this,
The purpose and th’ authority is His.