Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It Hurts

I met Duncan 20 summers ago and immediately fell in love.  He was funny and fun and flirtatious. Our last night at camp, after a long summer of getting to know each other,  I shared with him that I really hoped we could stay in touch.  Stay friends. 1995 was still the time of pre-internet-for-everyone-except-the-nerds, so it was up to pens, paper, and the USPS to keep us connected.  So, I wrote him within a month or so of heading back to WVU.  And I never heard from him.  So a few weeks later, I wrote him again. 


It hurt.

And then as Thanksgiving neared, I decided to write him 
The one where I bared my soul, expressing my undying love for him.  I wrote it out, crossing off, rewording and cutting and making additions for a few days.  Maybe even as long as a week. When I was happy with what it said, after I'd even had a few friends read it over,  I copied it, neatly, on college ruled notebook paper.  I sealed the addressed envelope and dropped it in a mailbox.  
I waited to hear from him.  
A letter.  
Or better yet, a phone call.  
And I never did.
It hurt.
Three months later, I saw him at Jubilee.  He seemed excited to see me.  I kind of gave him the cold shoulder.  He could tell my shoulder was cold.  I asked if we could sit down and talk at some point during the weekend.  He agreed.
When we sat down, I talked about how I'd hoped we'd stay in touch.  How I'd tried but he hadn't.  I wondered at whether or not he'd received my letters.  He said he'd received both of them.  
I'd sent him three letters.  
But he claimed he'd not received the one in which I professed my undying love.
The one in which I'd poured out my undying love for this man I was certain would be my husband?  I'd spent so much time on it.  And he'd never even gotten it?  Honestly, I was incredulous.  
Was he lying to me?
After that weekend, we didn't end up together, like some sort of Hollywood fairy tale, much to my dismay.  I was still smitten.  In fact, it was nearly two years until we even spoke again.  And started talking.  Then long-distance dating.  And then local dating.  And then broken up.  And then ENGAGED!  And then, finally, five years after meeting the man of my dreams, I  got to marry him.
Not in my time frame, that's for sure.  Had it been up to me, we would have been married by the summer of 1996.  One year after we'd met.  But life doesn't happen in my time frame.

The summer we got married, we were unpacking boxes, combining lives, learning how two could become one.  
On one of those summer days, as I was going through a box, I noticed a book that had something stuck in between its pages.  I flipped to the place in the book where this bulky thing was nestled.  
I remember looking at it, realizing what it was and feeling as if I was dreaming.
I found THE LETTER of November 1995.  Unopened.  Stuck in this old book.  
My sweet husband stuck this letter in a book...
feeling guilty about not responding to the first two he'd gotten from me?
not wanting to deal with it at that moment?
wanting to wait to read it in private?
Knowing my husband of nearly 15 years, I believe any of the these are possibilities as to why this letter, this most important letter, ended up stuck in a book and never opened.

Upon finding it, I was a mix of emotions.

ME: "Should I open it?"
HIM: "No."
ME: "Why not?"
HIM: "Because it represents a time in which I hurt you.  My lack of action hurt you."

So I threw it out.  
In the trash.
I have vague memories of what the letter contained.  But, I don't remember it, word for word.  If I had opened it.  And saved it, and read and reread it, I would likely be able to recall what it said now.  
But I didn't.  
And I can't.  
And I'm thankful.

I think about the letter, from time to time, marveling at how I could both spend hours pouring over its every pen stroke and yet be able to add it, unopened, to a trash can full of kitchen scraps.

I was able to do that, because the letter no longer represented reality.  Its reality was a pining college girl, infatuated with a boy.

The reality of that summer day in 2000, when I found the letter,  was a married woman who had promised "until we are parted by death."

I had already forgiven Duncan of those past hurts.  There was no need to bring it all up again.

Along these lines, I'm continually asking myself if there's anything I'm holding onto, that I should dump in the trash.  Any feelings of resentment or hurts that are stuck in that tucked-away book, stashed in that box full of junk.

It wouldn't be something I wrote unless I included a passage from the Bible.  
This one is from the fifth chapter of Paul's 2nd letter to the Corinthians:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

What beautiful truth.  In Christ, I have been forgiven and I am able to forgive.  I am able to let go, toss away the hurts and pains experienced in this life.  Only because of Christ, His incarnation, His sinless life, the Perfect Sacrifice of His brutal death on my behalf, His resurrection, His ascension, and the fact that He is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father, at this very moment, is any of this a possiblity.
To Him be ALL of the glory!