I was editing wedding photos last night and was overcome a bit by melancholy, the heart-strings of desire and longing for deep connection plucked upon by the radiance of newlyweded blissdom. Those wells of desire run deep and they’re not just attached to the longing for another human to skip through life with; they’re attached to the desire for real love and deep soul connection. I felt myself slipping a bit into pity for all that I don’t have and decided to turn the computer off and call it a night; restart again tomorrow. As I was on my way to my room, I realized that I have a choice in this feeling. And suddenly…I REFUSE! I refuse to give in to a melancholy that robs me of the joy of all that I DO have. I’m not half a person or incomplete or missing out on something because I’m not coupled up yet.
I realized this enemy that lurks…that robs us of joy and replaces it with the blues, feeling dejected, despondent, destroyed, disconsolate, dismal, dispirited, doleful, down and out, down in the dumps, down trodden, downcast, downhearted, dragged, droopy, gloomy, glum, grim, heavyhearted, in a blue funk, joyless, low, low-spirited, mirthless, miserable, moody, moony, mournful, pensive, saddened, somber, sorrowful, sorry, torn up, trite, unhappy, wistful, woebegone, woeful… Isn’t it incredible…the number of feelings and emotions that can replace one – JOY. Why do we feel this way? There are times when these feelings are appropriate and normal – life has a lot of big owies it throws our way. But when it’s about not having something… when we live in a culture that is flooded with commodity and things we MUST HAVE… Will I die without being married again? Probably not. Did my former marriages ’cure’ the deep yearnings in my heart? No. I have plenty of rich delicious relationships and I am not alone. We do need relationship, for sure. We’re hard-wired for it. Is relationship with a daughter less valuable than that of a spouse? Is relationship with a friend less valuable? With parents? Family? Acquaintance? Different, yes…but less valuable? No.
So what do we do when we’re feeling overcome with the swooning sometimes unrelenting unrequited desires of our heart? I’ve decided to just allow myself to feel it. Acknowledge it for what it is and be grateful that I do feel it. It means I’m alive and well and healthy. How often do we do that? Allow ourselves permission to feel. I’ve run away from my feelings for so long because I was so uncomfortable with feeling them, so I tried to distract myself with something in order to dissuade the feeling. I’ve learned that only heightens the agony of it all when the thing I tried to stuff into it didn’t work like I’d hoped; it left me feeling emptier. Then I started to acknowledge the feelings for what they are…yes, I have a very deep hole in my soul that yearns sometimes desperately for deeper connection. I’m human; it’s part of my condition.
He’s placed eternity in the hearts of men (Eph 3:11), which translates to connection with Him. Just as we feel the connection to our biological family because we are connected, we long to be connected to the One who created all things, including ourselves. In our broken world, that connection has been broken and we long for it be reconnected.
No singular person will fill that for me. It has to be filled with more of something else. If I choose to look around and see all that I am richly blessed with, the hole doesn’t feel so big and vast and deep. Joy starts to fill it for the beauty that is in this life. Is a flower less beautiful because it grows in the desert? It’s a choice we have…to focus on what we don’t have, or focus on what we do. If I saw that unbelievably beautiful flower in the desert, would I fail to see it because I am so distracted by the heat of the desert? Or stand in awe that something so beautiful can grow here? It’s the perpetual tension in life we must endure; beauty in the midst of discomfort.