When Nathan and I were engaged, I missed him a lot.
Granted, we were only a 3-hour bus ride away from each other, but with that kind of commute along with the kind of work we were doing, it was enough to make it a bit of a schlep to see each other, and you know all the technology in the world just doesn’t cut it. The engagement period is also just like being in a pressure cooker because gosh darn it, we already expressed how we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other and therefore why do we have to be apart and wait and not be together? I just wanted to be his wife already. And so with the distance and the engagement limbo, I missed him a lot.
I was pretty sure, though, that now, after our 1 1/2 years of marriage, I wouldn’t miss him as much when we needed to be apart for a few days. I was pretty sure I’d be relieved for some time alone. Honestly, part of that mentality comes from the cynical side of my perspective of marriage. It’s the same cynical side that made me expect Nathan to stop liking me or finding me beautiful after a month of marriage. It’s the same cynical side that makes me think we’re just too different and all the things we liked or admired about each other will turn into the very things we’ll hate about each other and then we’ll be so tired of trying to work things out that we’ll just give up and be miserable together.
I hold onto a bit of that cynical perspective because I think it keeps me grounded. The idea is that if I’m naturally inclined to cling to optimism too tightly (read as: we’ll frolic through life hand-in-hand through some fields like a music video and marriage will be nothing less) but discipline myself to grab the tail end of extreme cynicism (read as: our marriage is going to be the worst thing ever), then I imagine I’ll actually end up somewhere in the realistic middle.
Maybe that’s a terrible way to navigate the marriage trampoline, but it’s worked pretty well so far. What’s nice about wading through the cynical side of marriage (while not entrenching myself in it), is that it can make space for some pleasant surprises.
Like tearing up when it was time for Nathan to head down to NYC for a friend’s bachelor party. Whoa. Did not see that coming at all. It wasn’t the first time we had been apart for several days and nights since we got married – in fact, we had been apart for much longer periods of time than a weekend. So it caught me a little off-guard that I would react that way to his departure.
Another thing that struck me about the weekend, though, was a parallel moment I usually have when I’m fasting. I know a lot of my peers will fast things other than food, but fasting food works well for me. I love food. I rarely forget a meal. Eating when I’m hungry is quite enjoyable for me. So when I haven’t eaten in a while, I definitely want food, and when that happens, I always think something like, Man, why can’t I desire God the way I really, really, REALLY want a burger right now? Why don’t I hunger for God as a necessity the way I hunger for food?
And that’s what I unintentionally found myself thinking this weekend while Nathan was away and I was missing him tremendously: Why don’t I long to be with God the way I long to be with Nathan right now?
It’s a question with no answer that has been lingering in my mind even after he’s returned home.