Woe is me, how I love so poorly. How I barely know what love is. I am loved, I know this. You and mom loved me ever so well. But love can only exist in relationship, and I am afraid I resisted much of your love. Yours specifically. I am letting mom, probably agonizingly slowly for her, as she wishes to always give me all she has. All she is as a mother. I realize losing you leaves a wound by itself, but I feel my father wound is mostly self-inflicted. I realize now why we so often argued with each other. Our own difficulties in expressing and receiving love inflamed one another.
“For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy is as severe as Sheol;
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
The very flame of the Lord.
Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor will rivers overflow it;
If a man were to give all the riches of his house for love,
It would be utterly despised.”[Song of Solomon 8:6-7]
I thought before I was angry at your disease. I thought I was angry I didn’t have a dad like everyone else. I thought I was angry because of what I had to give up.
But love is as strong as death and jealousy as severe Sheol.
Sheol is the pit. The abyss. The Israelite people in the Old Testament understood it as the realm of the dead. No one returned from this underworld. It is the utmost severe, and thus holds a triumphant finality for humanity. Once the gate of death closed, there was no escape. But God.
God reigns even over the pit of utter darkness and despair. What does the whole of Christianity hang on? The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The defeat of death. A Love that entered the realm of the dead and returned again. The true triumphant finality for humanity.
“The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it.”[Spurgeon]
We have been conditioned to fear death. Persuaded of its finality. To hold onto our lives so tightly under the illusion we are all we have. But if Jesus is real and His Resurrection is real, oh how I fear His love. For His life tells me His love for me is more final than death itself. Fiercer than the gates of the realm of the dead. More severe than the depths of the abyss. His heart beats for mine. Woe is me, how I love so poorly.
…and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.[Ephesians 3: 17-19]
I am afraid I am incapable of it, Lord. I am afraid, if I am capable, it is the poorest of capacities. Unable to uphold. Unable to possess. Unable to receive. Unable to bear the breadth and depth of love. How casually I thought I could treat it. How naïve I was to think the weight of singleness was more severe than the union of love. If singleness is my vocation, it is a mercy. If marriage is my vocation, it is a mercy. For whatever God has for me is the means by which I will be filled with all His fullness and know the love of His Son that surpasses knowledge. In every moment, this is before me as an ocean. I feel I can only drink from it with a sippy cup as a child learning how to hold the cup on her own. The treasure of God’s will be ever at my fingertips, ever at the tip of my tongue, and I am just understanding the map, just learning the language.
“Do we not know that by all creatures, and by every event the divine love desires to unite us to Himself, that He has ordained, arranged, or permitted everything about us, everything that happens to us with a view to this union?
Our communion with Him is even more meritorious when the means that serve to make it closer are repugnant to nature. If this be true, every moment of our lives may be a kind of communion with the divine love, and this communion of every moment may produce as much fruit in our souls as that which we receive in the Communion of the Body and Blood of the Son of God…
We must listen to God from moment to moment to become learned in the theology of virtue which is entirely practical and experimental. Do not attend therefore to what is said to others, but listen to that which is said to you and for you; there will be enough to exercise your faith because the interior language of God exercises, purifies, and increases it by its very obscurity.”
[Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade]
I want to be as true and faithful to His divine love as I can be. I want to believe communion with this Love is all I long for and need. I want to know His love through every person and event He has ordained, arranged, or permitted be a part of my life. This includes your death, dad. This include singleness. I can trust Him and His goodness in all of it, though I struggle. And I can, still, be hopeful to experience His fullness and love through the embrace of a spouse in the union of marriage. But I pray to be reminded I am already a bride.
I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.[Song of Solomon 7:10]
Watching a movie like “Dear John,” as most single girls probably do, I imagine myself loving someone and being loved by someone so fiercely that “each day is like a marathon without them.” Not in a flattering way where the warmth bubbles up inside of you for the moments the words carry through the air but in a fierce way, where the flashes are of fire, threatening to consume all that you are. A kind of love that burns and refines you. A kind of love as strong as death. No mere feeling. For this Love speaks to belonging and identity.
I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.
As a daughter and a bride, this is exactly who I am. This is who Love says I am. Love gives me an identity stronger than death, unquenchable by any waters of chaos.
I think the truth is love made me angry. Not receiving it left me angry. Not letting myself give it left me angry. Thinking I lost it left me angry. Thinking I lost you left me angry, dad.
But there is another truth. I have come to experience love through the wound of losing you. It seems the more I let the wound be an experience of love, the more I have of you. It is a bit crazy to say but you loved me during your life and still am loving me after your death. Crazier still, I am actually receiving more of it than I ever have.
“How many are there amongst them (Christians) who understand that every cross, every action, every attraction according to the designs of God, give God to us in a way that nothing can better explain than a comparison with the most august mystery?”[Abandonment to Divine Providence]
This I do… I love you, dad.
Your missy babes