Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Love Is A Gift

I want to talk about love for a minute.

Love is a gift.

I’ve learned that some people, sadly, never get to experience love in its best form in this life. And others of us seem to have more than our fair share. I’ve long realized how blessed I am with a loving family—from my parents all the way down to cousins five times removed.

Plus, I have had great marriage love. In fact, Top Five all-time, as Dana and I would say. And then, of course, I’ve lost that love.

There are things that I have learned about love ONLY because I have lost great love. That, to me, is a cosmic perplexity.

The last post was about a recent, unexpected turn in the journey, appropriately titled, “A Turn in the Journey.”

And it’s recently become an even bigger turn. As of just two weeks ago, Jessica and I became engaged. I am getting to experience a love that I never thought I’d see again. Since December 2009 I’ve told myself that I will hold out for nothing less than what I’ve experienced before. I was sure that that vow would keep me single for life.

Until now.

I’m a blessed man.

You learn a lot from losing love. And now, I am getting to apply what I’ve learned, as well as experience an entirely new and different love. I appreciate being able to share with you about this turn. It’s made me realize something about this journey. It’s not about me (although most posts are Bear-centric). It’s not about Dana. It’s about God. It’s about His love for us. It’s about His merciful stamps assuring all of us that He is near and in this process.

And now for the bigger turn.

Jessica and I are getting married, in a small, private ceremony convenient for us (given our schedules and travel, especially Jessica’s), and then a full-on celebration with our friends and family down the calendar pike. Within a couple days of our engagement, which happened in Montana at the end of August, we began to explore scenarios and dates of how we would marry. As we considered options, we began to channel a line that Dana used for our somewhat-quick engagement: When you know what the rest of your life is going to be, you might as well get started.

The wedding date? My birthday, September 13.

Yep, I know. On paper, it looks crazy. I’ve seen people move this fast before and thought “How can they know what they’re doing???” Maybe those folks did or didn’t know what they were doing. I know what love is. Jessica knows what love is…and what it isn’t. We’ve been in a constant state of “oh wow” regarding how we’ve seemingly been custom-journeyed for each other.

I know this news is a surprise. And so many wonderful people in our lives deserve a personal call or lunch or breakfast or cup of coffee to share this news. But that obviously isn’t feasible.

Jessica and I are excitedly and adventurously committed to entering into the next era of our relationship: a covenant relationship that builds on the love we’ve already developed; a relationship that gives us both a chance to be the first to sacrifice for the other; a relationship that gives each of us an opportunity to develop a love that casts out fear; a relationship that gives me a chance to love her as Christ loves the church, and a chance for her to experience that level of love.

In my last post I briefly mentioned some God stamp moments in this journey. The first week that Jessica and I met we were driving on a short trip and within 10 minutes we saw a deer and a rainbow. Jessica knew both stories and we glanced at each other curiously, sort of saying, “Let’s not over-interpret here, but that was wild.”

And then after a couple weeks of knowing that we were onto something special, we looked up in the sky and saw the cloud you see at the top of this blog. That is not a photo-shopped image.

There is still much to mine out from my journey of loss and grief. God is up to something. We’re eager to explore what that might be.

And if I might make one more comment. We’ve had some beautiful conversations with Mama Sue and Dana’s family over the past weeks. We all share a deep love for each other. I know that this kind of step brings reminders of the permanence of Dana’s death. For me it’s a permanence I’ve dealt with minute-by-minute since 9:10 a.m., December 23, 2009. For others of us the permanence comes in waves or stages, and I know the news of this blog will be a big wave.

When a permanence settles in, we seem to open ourselves up to a new level of recovery (or more grieving). I hope to explore that, and many other facets, in the coming months of this journey.

Much love and gratitude,