Of An Anniversary & Love Divine
Today is my 4th Wedding Anniversary! My beloved bride is on a cruise of the Yucatan Peninsula, so for the first time in 4 years, I’m alone on our anniversary. Why, you ask? Well, when it was announced at our parish that there would be a ladies cruise, I knew immediately that she would love to go, but never would of her own will, because it was on our anniversary. So as a husband, immediately, the thought of “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Anniversary gift!” hit me and so it came to pass. It does suck to be apart on our anniversary, but I know she feels the same. So, what is a lonely husband to do on his anniversary? Write of course!
4 years ago today, I stood before a priest (my father actually) and heard the words, “The servant of God, Luke Seraphim Beecham is betrothed unto the handmaid of God, Janna Lynn Barnes in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” thus beginning the adventure that has been my marriage to Janna. 4 years later, I am amazed at how much my love for her has grown and at the changes that have taken place in both of us. The scripture that is read at an Orthodox wedding comes from Ephesians. It is the “…wives submit to your husbands…and husbands love your wives just as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her…” verses. I remember standing there and hearing that verse and my first thought was, “O dear God, please don’t let me screw that up…” And in 4 years, sure enough, I’ve managed to screw it up many times. I’m selfish, stubborn, conniving, manipulating, and in general full of ME. And yet, my wife continues to stay with me.”Love your wife more than you’re own body…” the scripture continues. Wow. I don’t really even love my own body all that much. Often I think of it as a poorly made furry pink suit, that I’d like to have taken in a bit in the middle. But I suppose, be that as it may, I have grown rather fond of the ole flesh-suit over the last 28 years. And, I do think Iâ€™m a sexy beast on occasion. Come to think of it, I rather like myself. Too much Iâ€™m sure. And thatâ€™s where the problem lies. When St. Paul tells me that in order to love I have to be patient, kind, longsuffering, keep no record of wrongs, yada, yada, yada, right, heard it beforeâ€¦and I still suck at it. You see, in a weekâ€™s worth of time, Iâ€™ve realized that in 4 years, Iâ€™ve learned to love on such a different level that it blows my mind, and, itâ€™s making more and more sense of St. Paulâ€™s letter. Before marriage, I thought I was doing pretty good on the 1 Cor. 13 verses. 4 years later; I suck at it. Before marriage, I envisioned â€œlaying my life downâ€ in a heroic and martyrical way. 4 years later; I suck at it. Before marriage I just knew that my wife would love everything about me and that weâ€™d fight occasionally, but not that much really, because weâ€™d both be too giving and worried about loving one another. 4 years later; I realize that she certainly doesn’t love everything about me (because I don’t even like everything about myself…charming as I am…) and yep, I still suck at it. Before marriage, sex was a shining ideal of pleasure and intimate love with my beautiful bride and partner; a day in the life of the Song of Solomon, and my wife would desire me â€œâ€¦like a gazelle; like a young stag.â€ And Iâ€™d be damn good at it because I am the â€œGangster of Love.â€ 4 years later; Iâ€™m sure as hell not the Gangster of Love, and my â€œcharmâ€ is apparently not quite as charming as I imagined it. Yet, putting all youthful and naive notions aside, I’m beginning to understand more and more the words from the song “Wedding Feast of the Lamb: First Movement” by Lee Bozeman, “But I should be Divinity, and you should be the Virgin Queen, as Love Himself descends and angels sing.”
Yet despite and because of all of this, God opens up my eyes to see something very different and moving. Marriage is good. Marriage is difficult. I am not that great. I am not that loving. I am not the martyr I need to be. I am not patient, kind, loving, longsuffering, or in any way at all a good model of how that should look. But I see that; my wife IS great. My wife IS loving. My wife IS a martyr. My wife IS patient, kind, loving, very longsuffering, and a wonderful model of how all of that should look. And yet, while I see these things in her, and certainly not myself, she tells me that she sees all of those good things in me, and not so much in herself. And this is the great mystery and miracle; I am becoming more like who I have always wanted to be. And so is she. The more I am learning to love her, the more I realize that Iâ€™m able to love others. She makes me a better person just being around her. Sheâ€™s been gone for 1 week, and Iâ€™ve accomplished nothing, forgotten to pray, neglected the scriptures, and eaten a steady diet of microwave popcorn, pop-tarts, and Rockstar energy drinks. Her very being energizes me, encourages me, and above all tells me who I am, and who I am in God.
Iâ€™ve got much more to learn, but in 4 years, Iâ€™ve learned this much: God has given me the means to become more like Him. He has given me the chance to die to myself. He has given me the path to salvation, and the road back to Paradise. He has given me a soul mate, a helper, and a best friend. He has been gracious, kind, and loving, showing mercy to this sinner and calling me to repentance through the voice of my bride. He has given me the gift of Janna, though I donâ€™t deserve her. He is whispering to me His love and reminding me of who I am through the sweetest voice I know.
God has given me what he has always promised –
He has given me the means by which I can know my Name.
He has given me Himself.
He has given me Love Divine.
And I will never be the same…