I don’t know if this post will make any sense. I am writing it in somewhat a storm in my spirit. A good storm, but a storm nonetheless. Here are my half-baked thoughts…
I am a man of deep loves. They are found in pockets of people throughout my life. Many of them are my friends from college. Like my parents before me, most of my closest relationships were forged over four years during my undergraduate studies. In fact, my parents to this very day regularly talk on the phone, spend vacations, and take trips with their college friends who they have known now for over fifty years. This was one precious legacy they gave to me. Now, as I see 40 on the horizon of my life, I can say with great assurance that, like my father and mother, there are those who have deeply penetrated my heart’s affection. These friends are my deep loves.
And with deep loves come deep wounds. I’ll probably write about this at length in the future, but for this post it will suffice to say that as I graduated college and began seminary I did so in a great depression. I remember sitting in my newly acquired apartment in Fort Worth feeling this great sense of loss knowing that no longer did I have my closest friends around the corner or down the street to share life together. I felt like this different chapter of my life came abruptly and without my approval. I was lonely, sad and separated from my beloved friends. I could feel the sting of a deep wound that their absence struck in my heart. For quite some time I was emotionally tossed to and fro in the sea of sadness and depression. That’s the price of having deep loves. They can bring with them deep wounds.
So, here I am in North Carolina, spending time with a friend(s) who easily qualifies as a deep love. In fact, because of that, he and his spouse are people to which my wife and I stay connected to with healthy regularity. Indeed, I came to North Carolina because I felt like at this present time he needed me (or at least a deep love friend like me). This was no trouble on my part. On the contrary, it was a labor of love…a deep love. And when you operate with that type of heart, nothing is a trouble for you. My time here has been fun but also (can it be?) painful at the same time. I told you this might be confusing.
While here I have also reconnected with another of my deep love friends that I haven’t seen in thirteen years. Outside from a phone conversation a couple of times a year there has been a distance between us that was only overcome when I came to visit this week. I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was to spend time with this friend. It was as if we picked up where we last left off over a decade ago. I tried to soak up as much time with this person as possible, knowing I might not see them again for a very long time. And yet interestingly (and with great consternation), as we’ve parted, I find myself revisited by an old depression. Initially, I didn’t know what was going on in my heart. In reflecting throughout the day today, I believe a deep wound has likely reopened.
I, once again, am reminded of two great truths: how much my deep love friends mean to me and how so much I miss them!
However, this time is different than the lengthy, heart-wrenching season I endured immediately after my college career was over. Let me explain. You see, sometimes the only way to overcome a deep wound caused by a deep love is to let it be covered by a deeper love, a more superior and glorious love. To be sure, the definitive love in this regard is God’s love in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Of this, I have no question, no doubt. But sometimes, at least in the storm my spirit finds itself in, I have another love to look to- one “with skin on” and that is around me in my everyday life. A love that itself is a grace from God.
I have the love of my wife.
It is no grand coincidence to me that on this day, thirteen years ago, Jennefer Shannon Lang pledged her undying love to me. In her I have found a deeper love, one that surpasses the deep loves of my heart. A deeper love that gives my heart a joy unmatched by the others. A deeper love that carries me to heights and depths that the other loves can neither ascend nor dive. A deeper love that can only be surpassed by the One who brought us together. And, so today, as I write these words with tears of both sadness and gratitude streaming down my face, I recognize that while being wrecked by the reopening of an old wound, I have, in my wife’s love, been provided a gracious salve by a good and great God which is mending that old wound in ways I couldn’t have dreamed. Therefore, if the medicine of my wife’s affections is truly good news for my disquieted condition, then for my heart right here and now…
…her love is gospel.
Happy anniversary Jennefer Shannon, my heart of hearts, my deeper love.