Children, and their parents, crave stability. When their world is rocked by change, they are comforted by that which remains the same. I have been reminding my children of late that the loss of their mother, for all the pain, doesn’t mean that everything has changed. Indeed when I put my littles to bed each night I, as I have always done, remind them of these bedrock truths, “Daddy loves you. Mommy loves you. Daddy and Mommy love each other. And Jesus loves you.” These are the unchanging truths they can always count on, the solid ground on which they walk. We that are left behind are still together. And I am still me.
I am afraid, however, that I am not still me. This melancholy that follows me about like a cloud hovering over Charlie Brown, that’s not me. Waking up with less energy than when I went to sleep, that’s not me. Uninterested in food, that’s definitely not me. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. Neither do I hear my own voice in what I write. It’s a stranger that sits here crying in my office.
This should not have surprised me. I have long decried our arrogant and modernist tendency in the Reformed world to turn God’s own ontological poetry into mere metaphor. God says the church is the body of Christ and we, instead of entering into the reality that the church is the body of Christ, we reduce it down to “Be nice to each other.” I, however, am guilty as well.
The Bible says that husbands and wives are one flesh. Christian marriage pundits turn this too into “Be nice to each other.” That is, we are told about the importance of open communication. We are encouraged to be as concerned for our spouse as we are for ourselves. We, in rephrasing what God has said so that we might understand it, end up further from the truth. We are not commanded to live as if we were one flesh. Instead we are told that such is the actual truth. The one-flesh reality means that I haven’t just lost the love of my life, but half of me. How could I recognize me, when I am now only half the man I once was? It isn’t quite accurate to say that when she drew her last breath a part of me died. Instead, half of me died.
The good news, however, is the same. Half of me has died, and is with Jesus. Half of me has no melancholy, but only joy. Half of me cries no more. Half of me sins no more. Half of me loves me, and the children, with a perfect love. Mourning, over the coming weeks and months, will move to dancing, as this half of me begins to more deeply believe the blessings I have in my better half.
I love Denise all the way to heaven and back. She in turn loves me all the way from heaven and back. And Jesus loves us both as the great bridge that not only brought us together, but keeps us together. May these gospel truths give me gentle sleep tonight.
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