Rewriting a Love Story: On Becoming Real

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“The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.” —Anne Lamott

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” —John 12:24 (ESV)

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We pulled into the driveway at my brother’s home after an hour-and-a-half-long ride up the thruway. We used to love rides like this.

The New York Thruway is reliable —mostly tree-lined and smooth. It’s winding path synced to a meditative flow that makes a familiar drive still feel mysterious. Now, the ride we used to love feels long. The space and silences between us tangible markers of an uncomfortable distance.

The shrinking sphere of our minivan magnified every problem. Dried coffee in the cup holders, goldfish on the floor, that parking ticket we’ve yet to pay—I wanted out.

It wasn’t one thing. It was everything. Middle-age is a special mix of madness and a couple going through it with children have a special demon to face. We’re taking care of aging parents and teen-aged children, wrestling with the storm of midlife crises and the onset of menopause. We are broken and vulnerable.

I felt the familiar procession of family behind me as we shuffled toward the door. In addition to a tribe of children, we made our way up a trio of steps carrying still warm trays of food and gifts to exchange with my family. It was Christmas Day.

I saw it on his face first.

I don’t know why I looked back. But I did, and that’s when I saw it. He was tired. And so was I. Our seams were showing; our love, a sadly worn Velveteen Rabbit that neither one of us wanted to claim. It was time to take our love off the shelf.

Our love was now old, wise, beautiful and experienced. But our love had struggled with the weight of becoming. This was soul recognition of the deepest magic.

That night I knew the shadows, the depth of the valley and I didn’t run. It was the night that I willed myself to believe for the other side. That night I knew our union would be loved to life. I wanted to see us real.

But it would be hard, and it would hurt.

On the lonely walk toward death, an uncommon faith fired within me–an inner assurance of resurrection. That first love, though blameless, would be crucified. It would be the sacrifice.

I became certain that, as difficult as it was to be in this place, what lay before us would be harder. It would be the hard and holy work of burying the dead.

And so begins the rewriting of a love story.

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This is the part where we press forward in faith, where we dig into the gaps of our relationship to find an ever-unfolding universe. This is where we accept the risk to become more.

We’ve become the magical hybridity of a married couple, conflated and quilted. We are the composite whole of two stories weakened by barriers that exist, but shouldn’t. What was once beautiful, feels compromised, confused.

This time, I see clearly and pray for a weaving that is intentional and fair.

Let’s pray for patches of courage and forgiveness interwoven between faith and truth … a fair measure of grace in the blank spaces and a double binding of hope on those vulnerable, fragile edges. This is the careful crafting of a hard-won, homespun joy. Our quilt is the shield. Lord, let it watch over our love.

Twenty years of marriage has produced just as many reasons to chase down my convictions about the joining of flesh in holy matrimony. Only Jesus can decode the difficult parts of the journey. Only Jesus can help us make connections between the messy middle of metamorphosis and The Love that never changes.

Dare we embrace a theology that asks we recommit to the risk?

Tell me the canon isn’t closed for us, that what we have is still subject to change. Tell me we can rewrite the story. Tell me it can be redeemed. Help me find our truth.
We can allow our shared memory of the past to breathe life on a hopeful future.

We can begin again. On the road to belief is the option of rebirth and an invitation to dance in the crucible until revolutionary transfiguration occurs.

He makes all things new and I believe that’s true. Even for us.

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Lisha Epperson
Hi! I’m Lisha Epperson, a hopeless romantic, lover of Jesus and most things antique. I love being a wife and mother of 5. I’m hooked on books (got the library fines to prove it) and all things ballet. I work out a life of faith with fear and trembling in New York City and blog about it all at lishaepperson.com.
Lisha Epperson

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