I wasn't planning on posting tonight. I was so tired after coming back from retreat. It wasn't the actual retreat that wore me out. I think it's partly because I haven't had much time at home to unpack, settle in, and just be myself. I still feel like I'm living out of a suitcase. This past weekend was our church family camp and after being foreigners in Texas for the past few months, I was glad to see familiar faces and fellowship with my church family. Some of these people, I've grown up with for the past 20 years... some I'm just meeting for the first time. Anyway, it was nice to see everyone and also spend some more time with my family.
After watching a short video that Anderson sent me from Brazil in 2007 and the subsequent waterfall of tears and rush of emotions, I've decided to write about longing today. For the first three years of our relationship, Anderson and I longed for each other across North and South America. I kept letters, emails, pictures, videos all around me as reminders of him to soothe my longing and remind me of what lay ahead when we were reunited. These reminders always used to ease my longing heart... but now, they only seem to strengthen the intensity of the pain, the yearning, the longing for reunion.
I did finally get those audio files that Anderson recorded for me prior to the Arizona trip I took a few years back. I thought that hearing his voice again would make my heart happier, but it only made my heart hurt more. He talked to me about all the things we'd do when I got back... the big hug he'd give me when I came home... how much he missed me. I remember laying in my sleeping bag a few years ago, listening to those recordings and just beaming with joy. Hearing those same recordings a few days ago... I remember curling up in agony as my heart seemed to collapse on itself.
I used to hope that Jesus wouldn't come for us until I'd gotten married, had kids, and started my own home. Now I long for that day. I long for the day that the trumpets sound and we ascend to heaven. I long the way I should have been longing for heaven all along. Once again, God has used Anderson to open my heart and teach me what it means (and what it feels like) to love God even more. The love Anderson and I shared, was but a mere glimpse of the love that God the Father feels for us. Anderson was my gift... my glimpse of God's love for me... our beautiful love is like a pittance in comparison to the vastness of God's unconditional love. Similarly, my longing for reunion with Anderson in heaven, as strong as I feel it now, is only for one small part of the beauty, richness, and joy that heaven promises to be.
I see pictures of him everywhere and I still can't believe that he's not just 7 miles down the freeway in Hacienda Heights. It really feels like it used to... before we were married... when I'd be at my home and him at his... only... I can't call him, text him, or IM him anymore. Every time I see a picture, I'm hit with a brief flash of love and joy followed by the harsh realization, like a slap in the face, that he's not here anymore.
I'm still reading C.S. Lewis's A Grief Observed. In the book, and in others I've read, the loss of a loved one is like an amputation. You don't get over it... you can't get over it; you learn to live with it... or more like live without it. I imagine myself as an amputee... my heart and soul cut in half... but for the purpose of imagery... let's say my arm was amputated. I could lay there in bed, closing my eyes, trying to remember what it felt like to have that arm again. I could look back at pictures and try to recreate those moments. I could try my whole life to live in the past... live in the "glory" days, but none of my trying will ever make that arm grow back. That arm is no longer there, no longer connected to me, no longer receiving life's blood, no longer growing old with me or helping me through the day. Things I used to use that arm for... simple things like getting dressed... things I took for granted and never thought about... I'm suddenly acutely aware of my deficits, my loss, and how "good" I used to have it when it was still there.
I come back to the longing again. I can either... long for the past or long for the future. God has promised eternal life for those who believe. He says that in heaven, there is no more tears, no more pain, and that we will have new bodies... glorified bodies. Not really sure what they'll be like, but I'm pretty sure that if there's no more tears and no more pain, then either our bodies are restored, or we will live in heaven in such a way as the things that limited us on earth no longer apply in heaven. Jesus still had nail marks in his hands and feet, but no pain... and he walked through walls. I digress. Longing.
Is it cold if I choose not to continue to long for what I had in the past? Would you want an amputee to spend their days and nights longing for their amputated limb?
It is my logic and my conscious decision to long not for what I had on this earth, but to long for what is promised me in heaven. I choose to pick myself up, keep my eyes looking ahead, and live the rest of my life making the most out of what limbs I have left. I choose to long for heaven, where the ultimate reunion will take place... where no one, no distance, no cancer can ever separate us again... for an eternity. Intellectually, I choose. Heart and head though... will not always align.
We don't really want grief, in its first agonies, to be prolonged: nobody could. But we want something else of which grief is a frequent symptom, and then we confuse the symptom with the thing itself... bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases-like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too. If it hurts (and it certainly will) we accept the pains as a necessary part of this phase... We were one flesh. Now that it has been cut in two, we don't want to pretend that it is whole and compete. We will be still married, still in love. Therefore we shall still ache. But we are not at all... seeking the aches for their own sake. The less of them the better, so long as the marriage is preserved. And the more joy there can be in the marriage between dead and living, the better. -C.S. Lewis
I haven't quite figured myself out... and I also haven't quite figured out this quote that I just put here, but I'm working on understanding them both.
And now that I've unloaded a string of thoughts and the tears have stopped falling... I think I can sleep. Good night!