Well, my least favorite holiday is about a week away. That would be St. Valentine’s Day. It commemorates a bunch of gangsters being machine-gunned down in a garage in 1929 Chicago, and also something allegedly having to do with “romance.” Some wit said it should be renamed National Singles Day.
Okay, so you think these notes are just the bitter ramblings of an old guy who hasn’t had anything resembling a romance in 15 years. Not entirely true. I did have one major obsession about eight years ago, but that wasn’t romance. After two very casual dinner dates and a dozen emails I thought I was in love. Fortunately, the lady realized I was way over the top and stopped communicating with me. Though I was very wounded at the time it was another gift from God. It wouldn’t have been a good match.
I recently had guests from out of town. An artist, who I’ve often referred to as my closest male friend, was here for an art show with another artist buddy. Ted is an insightful fellow and he knew my ex-wife rather well. In talking about my marriage I stated that I felt God had given her a chance at healing the extensive emotional damage from her childhood by placing her in a relationship with me. I was giving moi a pat on the back for patience and understanding. And then Ted said, “Don’t you suppose it was for your healing as well?” He was absolutely right. I went into the relationship a self-absorbed agnostic and a drunk. I came out nine years later a Christian–sober and much more responsible–a mature family man. I improved 100%; my ex maybe 10%.
Tiffany, my ex, is one of a kind; she possess more intuitive intelligence than anyone I’ve ever known. She can tell a person amazing and uncomfortable things about themselves. That can be very humbling. But much of the reason we didn’t make it was because she is such a strong, angry, unyielding personality. However, she was who I needed at the time. As Ted said, she allowed me no vanities. She stripped me to the bone.
Though it ended in divorce, I still believe that God was in the relationship from the beginning. Yeah, I know the scripture about God hating divorce, but sometimes I think He’s in divorce’s too. Marriage was a season of growth for me, but likewise so has the pain of being alone. That misery certainly brings some to focus on God more and that’s always a good thing. The reason I’m convinced He’s in divorce is because He wants us in relationship with Him more than in a relationship wearing skin, and there are some relationships that don’t seem to allow for any others, even holy Others.
Back to the subject of V-day. I think it’s the greeting card companies who have made it a big deal. The devil is probably in the mix too. Because, let’s face it, most romances don’t work out. Ninety some percent end badly. Everyone beyond the age of 25 pretty much knows that. And that little rush we get when we meet Ms Right or Mr Right is truly our brain on drugs. That is why I go to the Men’s codependent group at Celebrate Recovery. I know my tendencies.
Though in the 19th Century sense I am very much a Romantic, I have pretty much given up on romance. I don’t think God is much interested in romance unless it helps build His kingdom–and in some cases I’m sure it does. But in this Hollywood myth-driven age romance just gets in the way more often than not. For some really unromantic thoughts on marriage read St. Paul’s remarks in Chapter 7 of First Corinthians. On the other hand romantics are given some hope by Solomon in his ” Song of Songs.” That is a pretty mushy piece of poetry. But theologians have kind of ruined it by saying it’s really an allegory about the Lord’s pursuit of His church. I certainly don’t know
I do know that God is about building holy people and connecting them in relationship; sometimes romance is part of that recipe but, in my view, more often not.