Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Letter to Joy: Future Fantasies

Today, Joy and I decided to write letters to each other on our respective blogs on the above topic. You can jump over to her blog to read hers. We got the idea from Seth and Amber Haines, a fellow blogging couple, who hit this idea out of the park last week on their blogs. In addition to each having their own blogs, Seth and Amber are regular contributors to the collaborative blog A Deeper Story - Tales of Christ and Culture. You should check it out.

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There’s something you should know.

Ever since we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, I’ve found myself having the most far-flung fantasies about you.

No, I’m not talking about that (this time, haha). I’m talking about the future.

“What will it be like,” I’ve often thought, “to grow old with Joy?”

From early on in our marriage, these latter-life fantasies of mine mostly revolved around unbridled world tourism—gondola rides through Venice; fjord cruises in Norway; safaris through the Serengeti; breakfasts on scenic rooftops in Mediterranean cities. The list goes on.

The almighty empty nest—and the sacred rite of retirement—would usher in a season of well-deserved delights like collecting seashells on sugary sand beaches and enjoying breathtaking vistas together for the rest of our lives. We could finally get on with our fantasy-filled life of leisure, free from the trappings of work and child-rearing—all great stuff, but style-cramping stuff.

Then early on, real life flogged those fantasies of mine right up side the head.

Over the course of our 13-year marriage, we’ve brought four children into the world, two of whom had life-threatening congenital birth defects. When Elli was an infant, we had to figure out how to manage and administer 45 doses of 9 different life-sustaining heart medications around the clock, without falling asleep at her bedside in mid-dose. We went for days on end sleeping in short shifts, taking care of a child whose default settings were set to “cry” most of the time.

We’ve stayed together through 6 open-heart surgeries, close brushes with death and innumerable nail-biting procedures between our two sick kids. Then death didn’t just brush—it visited us in the wee hours, snatching Elli from our lives when we least expected it.

In His grace, God used these trials to douse my youthful disillusionment with a heavy dose of reality. And although we’ve had our conflicts, He has been kind to keep us together in His strength.

Incomprehensibly, we still love each other. Shoot, we even like each other. We haven’t walked away from our marriage promise, despite the statistics that scream otherwise for couples in our situation.

But although my commitment to you hasn’t changed, my far-flung fantasies about the future have. Trials have a way of turning priorities upside down.

Oh, I still aspire to enjoy some of those prior delights with you. But it’s much different now. Loss has taught me that leisure is never a given this side of heaven. With Elli no longer with us, the splendor of heaven has become sweeter to me than the sands of Hawaii. The great work of ministry holds more attraction for me than the Great Wall of China.

I daydream about walking with you into the office to counsel the young couple in crisis—listening with extravagant grace, weeping with them, speaking the truth in love, seeing their marriage through one more year, or decade.

I daydream about waking up next to you in a humid, mosquito-filled tent, our salt-and-pepper hair matted from sweat, with a full day of village visits ahead of us—working, singing, sharing, learning, hugging—showing Christ’s love to everyone in sight.

I daydream about being your companion down those treacherous Bolivian mountain passes you once traveled, holding your hand as you introduce me to the men, women and children who changed your life last year, thanking them for the precious gift of hope they gave you—and in turn, gave me.

I daydream about standing next to you in special needs centers around the country (or even around the world), giving a child a voice through the foundation we formed after Elli died. Few moments in our marriage have been more exhilarating than the day we gave Sebastian his device last year.

I even daydream about co-authoring a book with you that helps bring hope and help to people out there we've never met. (And hey—maybe that’s where the exotic beach vacation comes in! The code words “writing sabbatical” can be our cover ;-).

In a nutshell, I daydream about our one-flesh ministry making more of a difference in the world than we ever could as two separate individuals. And that’s not just for some day way off in the future. That's for today, too.

My fantasies are still pretty wild, but they have taken on an accent of heaven they didn’t have before. They’re public, not private. They desire to alleviate pain, not ignore it. They pursue the world’s difficulties, not its delicacies. They reflect my strong conviction that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

So now that the secret is out … are you in?

Your fantasy-loving hubby,


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