-- Pope St. Gregory the Great
My dear Readers,
I have to admit it. During the past couple of months, I've been a Class A Whiney-Butt (what with getting sick over Halloween, putting a ton of work into my lace mountain only to have a precious few things sell, and my vertigo/insomnia coming back with a vengeance), but when it comes down to it, I just need to put on my Big Girl panties and deal with the trivial issues that come my way (Halloween comes every year, I can use the snowflakes and lace for all sorts of stuff, and my vertigo, even at its worst, at least has some entertainment value. I can sit on my bed, tilt my head back and pretend I'm on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride).
Even though it has been a bit tough, I can still look back and say that these past two years have been the happiest of my adult life.
I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that God has constantly been there, holding my safety net as I balance on the never-ending high wire that is my life. It's fair to say that I've been going through one of Screwtape's "Troughs" (anyone who has read the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis knows what that is), but even so, compared to my college days and childhood, I'm feeling closer to my Lord and Savior now than I ever have.
God has blessed me in so many ways. I know that I have MASTERED the art of complaining. But when I take time to reflect, meditate, and spend some time with Christ, I can't help but shrink a little and blush in embarrassment at the spoiled and childlike thoughts that go through my head.
I have absolutely NO reason to complain. God has given me a family who will love me and support me no matter what, the very BEST education that a person could ever ask for, and a wonderfully eclectic mix of life experiences that have shaped me, tested me, and given me the knowledge and wisdom to live my life to the fullest and help others.
God has lead me to a job that I LOVE, and I am surrounded by people who I am PROUD to know.
God has seen to it that I have a roof over my head, good food in my stomach, and has generally filled me up with good things.
Mary's Magnificat comes to mind: (Luke 1:46-55)
- My soul magnifies the Lord,
- and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
- For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
- For behold, from this day all generations will call me blessed;
- For the mighty one has done great things to me, and holy is his name.
- And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
- He has shown strength with his arm;
- He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts;
- He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the holy;
- He has filled the hungry with good things,
- and the rich he has sent empty away.
- He has helped his servant Israel,
- in remembrance of his mercy,
- as he spoke to our fathers,
- to Abraham and to his seed forever
John, at first glance, seems to be everything that I am NOT. He's tall, I'm short. He's more reserved, I'm more of a loudmouth. He's more introverted, I'm a bit more extroverted.
And yes, Readers...John is an Atheist/Agnostic. I am a Christian.
Happily, though, it is because of these differences that we seem to EXCEL in meeting each other's needs in this relationship.
I have a habit of ranting. When I get upset, I have this need to grab whoever is handy and let them know each and every thought that goes through my head. But luckily for me, John is there, and will always acknowledge, listen, and advise without being patronizing, arrogant or judgemental.
John often feels like he needs to be my protector/bodyguard. And there are many times when I feel fragile, vulnerable and scared. He has told me that when he cares about something, he feels the need to protect it. God knows that John has always been there to protect me and make me feel safe and secure.
John loves going out and trying new and crazy things. While I am a bit more of an extrovert, I tend to get nervous at the thought of leaving my comfort zone. John has introduced me and encouraged me to discover Thai cooking, tofu, painting (acrylics and oils), H.P. Lovecraft, jogging, FLCL and other forms of insane anime, clamming, Italian slush, and the occasional (VERY occasional) hookah (I VERY rarely smoke, its bad on the voche).
Looking back on all of the relationships I've been in, I can't help but smile at the beautiful irony this one brings. It is through John, an Atheist (who, while always respectful and sensitive to my faith, will always let his truthful opinion be known if asked), that I feel I have found my true relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ.
The reason, Readers?
The love that John has for me (and I for him) is a direct reflection of the love my Lord and Savior has for me and the rest of humanity.
I've written before that John has opened my eyes to how a woman should be treated in romance. But it's more, SO much more, than just opening doors, offering his arm, holding my hand as we walk though the park, and being there when I need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.
John is the first man I've dated who honestly, HONESTLY loves me for being nothing but my true, authentic self. Just as God does.
John has taken the time to learn as much as he can about me. He asks me questions. He makes observations. And he notices things, the smallest details, habits and nuances that set me apart from everyone else.
Readers, an example:
A few months after we started officially dating, I was in a silly romantic mood and asked John what it was that first physically attracted him to me. He replied,
"Well, I'd have to say that it was your shoulders. More specifically, Sweetie, the way you hold yourself when you look backwards at someone or something. It's graceful."
He then proceeded to happily demonstrate this pose in his sketchbook, taking care to accurately portray my slightly uneven eyebrows and pug (John refers to it as a "pixie") nose.
There are times when we'll be at my apartment watching reruns, sitting next to each other on the couch, silently. I'll be crocheting/knitting/what have you, and John will usually be sketching his next painting concept or comic idea in his sketchpad. As I'm working, there are times when I'll feel John's hand over mine. He will take my hand in his, position it, look at it, closely, with the keen eyes of the wonderful artist he is, and then sketch it as a reference.
Makes me think of how God must have keenly observed every detail of every person, thing and creature that he created as he was making the Earth.
Yes, Readers, it is true. I am in love with an Atheist. However, this Atheist has helped bring me closer to God than I ever have been in my memory.
John is the butter to my bread. The cheese to my macaroni.
Just as God is the breath to my life.
If there is one thing that I can take from all of this, its that God likes to mix things up. We learn things from unexpected circumstances. We find joy and happiness in the most unfamiliar places.
God sent John to me so that I can learn what true love is. What God's love is.
So no, Readers. There is no reason for me to complain. God has filled me, this scatterbrained, implusive, unorganized handmaiden, with every wonderful thing I can possibly ever need.
And by God, I can't wait to see what the future will bring.