People say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. People who say that are people I normally would like to punch. Even if the saying is true does that really make absence fun or enjoyable? I think not. So rather than punch those people who say that cliche, I prefer to think of absence in the following way:
“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great.” – Comte DeBussy-Rabutin
I like fire. Not as much as some people I know…but I like fire, the bigger, the better. Why would I want love to be any different? I like fire, but I love love. As I’ve been thinking about this quote lately, I’ve been thinking about it in two different, though similar ways. (1) Absence could refer to the time before you actually meet your soulmate. (2) [And probably the scenario most people think of] Time spent apart from each other once you’ve met your soulmate. In this instance, I’m not talking about your boyfriend or girlfriend necessarily, but about the truest love of your life, your soulmate, the one and only that God made for you and you for them. There’s a depth to this love, this longing that cannot be put into words (though I try to in the urge for a Husband blog). I would contend that most of us have been in a relationship at one point or another and felt that ache, that urge for our soulmate, perhaps when the relationship was going down the tank or after a big fight. The point is that we all have that longing for our soulmate, and in the absence of that person we find ourselves wondering either where the heck they are, or why we can’t be with them every second of every day.
As a side note…I feel like this is one of those blogs where I shall soon (and probably repetatively) eat my own words. The last couple weeks I’ve blogged about my issues with patience and my lack of that virtue, this blog is no exception to that running theme in my life.
(1) Absence in the time before you meet your soulmate.
Some (ok, most) people say that I’m young and I can’t tell you how tiring it got when people would continuously tell me that I had “time” to find my husband. After all, when you’re young, you’ve seemingly got all of the time in the world to find him, or for him to find you. In my head, I always had a few not-so-charitable responses to them. They, whoever they were, had already found true love, so it was easy for them to sit there with their lovey-dovey eyes and wedding planning and tell me that I had time…they were already living the dream. Now, I sit, in a way, on the other side of that fence and I wonder what I would tell single me, or a “young” single person. I’ve had the above quote saved for a while, but I’ve never really contemplated its meaning to a single person before now.
The time before you meet your beloved, your soulmate, is, in fact, a time of absence. Most single women I know have this deep ache in their hearts (and I’m not trying to make my single friends out to be lonely, desperate saps because they are not) to find their soulmates. More often than not, that’s what single women talk about…where is he? Where have all the good men gone? When is it my turn to live the fairytale, to fall in love, to be whisked away on a white horse by a knight in shining armor? But this absence, if you choose to use is this way, can be a good thing. I know in my single times I didn’t always appreciate the time that God was giving me to grow as a person, to fall deeper in love with Him. Instead, I scouted out cute boys everywhere I went – youth group, Mass, the mall, school, driving down the freeway…any and everywhere I went I was checking out guys. It took time (and loads of prayer and some awesome books…i.e. “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris) for me to realize that during my single years, God was calling me to not only fall deeper in love with Him, but to open my heart to the love that I would one day be able to share with my soulmate. Over time (and oddly enough, even in other relationships) God took the love in my heart that I was beginning to store for my soulmate and He gave that small fire of love in my heart wind. By the grace of God that small fire of love in my heart didn’t blow out, but because of my love for God, it grew…and it continues to grow. I know that I am only beginning to see how God used (and for that matter, is still using) my time of single-ness to enkindle the fire of love that I have for my soulmate. Not only did God grow my love for Him, but all the while He was lighting my heart on fire with love for the man I will spend the rest of my life with.
(2) Time spent apart.
Good golly, I’m not sure which absence is better or easier to deal with. Not knowing who your soulmate is or when he/she will show up can be quite agonizing…and it can be quite exciting as you wait in hopeful anticipation for the love of your life. And then, one fine day, that person enters your life…and then, if your story is like mine (and somewhere deep down I knew long ago my story would be this way)…years later you realize that is the person you are supposed to be with. I’ve heard quite a few stories like this…boy meets girl and then years and years later they suddenly look at each other and what they were so oblivious to before wonderfully becomes to clearly obvious: that they were made for each other. Hooray! Sound the trumpets, get a ring and a white dress and spend the rest of your lives together in endless bliss! If only it were that easy. Even once we’ve found someone, the someone, we will still have to spend time apart (even if its only to go to the bathroom). This absence isn’t just true when you are dating or courting, its true when you are engaged and even when you are married…and after one of you dies. My married friends spend time apart when one of them is at work and the other is home raising the family, or the husband has to take a business trip and the wife still has to be at work and can’t go with her husband. For my grandparents and older folks I know, many of them are living on this earth without their spouse…an ache I can’t even imagine. No matter what stage in the relationship we are at, we will be and are called to spend time apart. How much time is something that no book, rubric or guideline can prescribe for you…its something the two of you must decide together. Just as time apart was necessary before you met (see not Myself), time apart is necessary after you meet. Don’t think you are perfect just because you found each other, you still have growing to do, both individually and as a couple. John Eldredge says it beautifully, “there is a rhythm to life together. We first to to God, alone, so that we have something to bring back to the community”…or to our soulmates. If we are constantly with each other, even if some of that time is spent in prayer or in Mass together, then what time to do we have to be fed by God? The truths that God will speak to you as a couple are different from the truths that He longs to speak to your heart as a man or a woman of God. We need that time apart to allow God to speak those truths to us, and then we can share those truths, those moments of clarity and revelation with our soulmates. We take time apart, however painful that ache in our heart becomes to spend every waking moment with our soulmate, we take time apart to reconnect with God, to remember what He taught us in our time of single-ness, and to learn from Him. Life is a journey and we aren’t done learning until we get to Heaven and receive the fullness of Truth as we spend eternity with Jesus. We take time apart so that God can continue to set our hearts on fire with love for Him and for our soulmates.
Lord, no matter what stage in life we are at, let our hearts be set on fire with love for You, first and foremost. Then, if it is Your will, send a mighty wind upon our hearts and stir up, enkindle a love for our soulmates that never dies out, but only grows larger as our love for You consumes our hearts. AMEN.