Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness July 29, 2008

Intersections . . . I think these are the rare moments when my life, briefly, seems to make sense. I noticed one today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about weddings lately. There are a lot of them happening, imminently happening, probably happening, etc., around Calvary. This is wonderful for everybody, of course, and it gives me the opportunity to spend some time with couples preparing to marry, talking pretty intensely about the challenges and opportunities of making a commitment like this. It’s fun to watch them tell the story of how they met; it’s heart-warming to sit in the glow of that happy kind of love.

It also feels healthy and hard and good to talk about how sometimes love is really difficult. Not like, maybe it will be . . . but definitely, certainly, loving somebody (and, for that matter, allowing yourself to be loved) is hard work.

Meanwhile, colleague Leah Grundset gave me a CD of the Wailin’ Jennys, to which I’ve been humming along while driving my car. I’m not much of a musician, but sometimes the words and phrasing of a song hit me in a really deep place, and their song Firecracker brought to mind again some of these musings about love I’ve had of late:

A is for apple, B is for blind

I jumped so fast I left the ground behind

You set your sights homeward

And you are more than wise

It’s late night heading into morning

You can get used to almost anything

Deep sea eyes, porcelain skin

Love’s sweet nests and their boxing rings

It’s late night heading into morning

Firecracker, firecracker

Sparkling in the sky

To those of us who saw

Looked like the fire should die

Knowledge pulls the reigns against

The bliss that I once knew

When you set your sights on me

And the firecrackers flew

Ocean of friendship, diamonds far and deep

We still talk of the future

Remembering soft sleep

A is for apple, apple of my eye

It’s late night heading into morning

Late night heading into morning…

With that backdrop informing my thoughts I worked with Genesis 29 last week, writing a sermon about Rachel and Leah. I was thinking about how unfair it seemed for everyone involved . . . to marry someone and then wake up the next morning next to someone else. At home one night we were discussing over dinner what a shock this experience might be when my husband, Mark (love of my life, apple of my eye, etc.), commented ever so helpfully: “Well, isn’t that what getting married is, anyway?”

As I studiously ignored any possible deeper meaning to his observation I started to think that, not only is marriage like that . . . all human relationships are like that. We fall in love with shiny wonderfulness and wake up with, to put it nicely, tarnished potential. Every time! That’s just how it is to be human-ongoing discoveries, uncovered pain, new growth . . . all of these “pull the reigns” against . . . okay, maybe not bliss, but at the very least what we imagined our lives would be like all along.

And it’s not just with people we marry. It’s with our friends and our relatives, even ourselves. Especially ourselves.

I got to wondering maybe if that is where God’s love comes in. You know, in those moments when we realize we can never live up to God’s invitation to live lives of love? When we fail, when the shiny façade of who we are on the outside begins to implode because the inside is filled with loneliness and disappointment, failure and fear?

Nope, any human relationship takes at least a little step of faith, faith that even in the hardest times God’s way with us could be our way with each other.

But that makes an audacious claim like, “God loves you” seem really, radically wonderful.  Because love like that is enough to give us hope that even at night we’re heading into morning . . . .

Thanks be to God.

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