In the absence of presence

I was playing “Show Me Your Glory” by Third Day this afternoon and I was thinking about how poorly I sound compared to many others, not purposefully mocking myself, but thinking reasonably about my talent level.  I began to think about her and how she loved me and my vocal and instrumental abilities, knowing full well that I’d never be Mr. Sheeran.  And how there may not be many women in the future who support the fact that I sing mediocrely and play even less well.

Then I began to think about how sometimes I’d close the door of our bedroom and just play for a little while, while she’d be doing other things, whether exercising or taking care of things around the house (yes, I was that bastardly of a husband sometimes).  But then, as typically still happens in my analytical and masochistic brain, I began to think about many of the times I closed to door for other reasons, specifically toward the end when I was “lesson planning.”

I’d lock myself away for hours in our bedroom; that sacred and holy sanctuary where God surgically knit two people together, and I’d text another woman under the auspices of lesson planning or playing or any other lie that my torn heart and mind could concoct.  And when I was in the sin, though I still considered how she felt on occasion, it was all secondary to how I felt and how I could perpetuate this sinful lifestyle.

Now however, I think about how lonely it must have been living with me.  I think about the Mercy Me lyrics that say “How it must have been so lonely by my side.”  And I temporarily sit in the sorrow that she must have dwelled in.  And as the spring timidly peeps around the corner like a slightly anxious puppy, I still fear and feel the cold winter in my heart.  “winter is coming?”  Nope…  Winter has been here, and remains, and will remain.

I think of all she must have gone through, or at least I try.  How could she possibly have stayed with me as long as she had?  It’s amazing.  She knew what happened and she stayed.  And she worked.  And she deleted pictures of the lie on my computer.  And she still made love to me.  And she still kissed me.  And she still held my hand.  She asked me how I was doing.  She encouraged counseling together and opened up about it to strangers.  She put up with the embarrassment knowing others knew.  She gripped my hand in the midst of it all and held it tightly so that she could hold us both up.  She looked over the cliff that she had just climbed up and she grabbed my hand and pulled.  My weight was like that of a lifeless body, and she strained against me and gravity in an effort to pull us both up.  She’s a heroine.  She has the most beautiful heart I’ve ever known.

And being without someone is difficult.  It’s tough and sad and scary and lonely.  But being with someone who is not truly there, they say that’s even worse.  Putting yourself on the line over and over and over again.  Allowing yourself to be shamed and embarrassed while your self esteem plummets because of the very person who is supposed to protect you above all, especially themselves, that has to be even more lonely.  Knowing that I was texting her and lying about it.  Knowing that my heart was slowly fading away.  Knowing that she was continuing to lose the man she married.

And though I’d never presume to know what military men and women feel, to compare myself to either would be audacious.  They are REAL heroes.  I feel like what she felt like is in some ways similar to what the spouses feel.  Your husband or wife enlists and then gets deployed.  And you watch as they get on that plane, or as they board that seafaring vessel, or as you drive off the campus.  The knots in your stomach working their way up and becoming the lump in your throat.  You wave and cry.  And then you cry some more.  When you get home.  When you’re cooking without them.  When you’re in the bathroom and not talking to them anymore.  When you’re aroused and you have nobody to quench your thirst.  When you’re on the couch at night and they aren’t there to massage your achy muscles or kiss your cheek and hug you when you just need supportive touch.  Nobody to surprise you at work with a cute text, or bring you chocolates, or leave a voicemail describing the love they have for you.

And then they return…  And the excitement overwhelms your heart like a flood overwhelms a small pond…  But sometimes it’s a different person who has returned…  Sometimes the person you love has changed…  Sometimes it’s not the person you fell for originally.  I guess being in bed with hope, is better than being in bed with disappointment.  Going to sleep with hot desire, is better than going to bed with cold numbness.  And sometimes having that giant bed all to yourself, to move around in, to think about your lover and friend, sometimes that’s better than feeling caged with an animal you don’t know, that you haven’t trained.  I imagine when the PTSD reveals itself, and manifests itself from day to day, the loneliness of having your love anymore makes you wish you really didn’t have them.

And I feel like…  throughout the last two years…  I have definitely become more open to the idea of death…  not self-inflicted of course…  but definitely open to the possibility of accidental…

I used to wake up in the middle of the night fearful that God might take me too early.  I have an arrhythmia and sometimes I’d wake up at night and have some indigestion and get scared that I might have a heart attack.  And I think I was scared because I enjoyed what I had so much, for so long.  I didn’t want to die because I had it so good.   And now I find myself lonely and not minding at all when the chest pains happen.  I almost welcome them like an old friend.  And statistically, around 3,000 people die in car accidents on a daily basis, and sometimes I drive to work and wonder if I’ll be one of those, and sometimes I don’t mind if I am.

Sometimes I feel alone.  And it’s because I am.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself lonely, because loneliness is a state, kind of like joy to happiness.  But I’d definitely consider myself alone some days.  And if being with someone who’s absent is worse than being alone…  I can’t imagine how alone she felt.  And when I’m able emotionally, I read the journal entries she sent me a long time ago.  She sought God in the midst of it, and He revealed Himself as much as He felt appropriate while still teaching her what He thought was valuable in the midst of it.

In the absence of my presence, He was present.

Which is exactly the type of Love that God is. When lovers abandon, God draws near. When friends inflict irreparable wounds, God heals like the Great Physician He is. When broken He mends. When suffering He upholds. When dead He resurrects. He restores. He Loves. He is the Love. 

Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Psalm 54:4 “Behold God is my helper, the Lord is the sustainer of my soul.”

Psalm 46:7 “The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Matthew 28:20 “Surely I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”


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