You forgot your iPod this morning. I took it with me to JinQiao, and I listened to “Babylon” on the way to the bus stop.
If our college years had been a film (a long, independent film), that song would have been the first one on the sound track. It was playing when I learned the fox trot. It was playing when we danced on your front porch, eating fresh sliced pineapple and laughing, while Earnest and Everett peeked outside their door, envying our well-lived life. It was often playing when I was alone and overwhelmed with feelings of despair, guilt, and hopelessness.
We were going through some difficult things at that time. You didn’t know if your mom would live or die. I wondered if mine would die if she knew how I lived. You drank the wine of a false lover. I lusted after strange flesh. You were Gomer; I was Gomorrah. We struggled with who God was. We struggled with who we were. And in a time when God’s language was hard to understand, we comforted and affirmed each other. We laughed and went on adventures together. We went to each other for refreshment. We were each other’s safe place. It was an almost perfect relationship, if only…
Do you remember what it was like in the absence of obligations and expectations? When I embraced you before, told you how beautiful you were, I didn’t owe it to you, because I was not, nor was I to be your husband. Likewise, there was no expectation that you should admire me, accept my leadership, or consider my opinions, because you were not my wife. We owed nothing, but we gave freely, and it brought us pleasure to do so. It was one of the purest things I’d ever been a part of.
And then, “if only” happened. We got engaged. We got married. We knew each other and created new life. And in such a short time, the dynamics of our whole relationship changed. Enter the foil. A charming serpent convinced each of us that the other didn’t have our best interest at heart. And we began obligating each other to our expectations, and as we did so, those expectations became more and more unreasonable. We learned what it was to be disappointed in each other, to be frustrated with each other, and then, to hurt and be hurt by each other. It was as if we’d taken a bite of the forbidden fruit, and there was no going back: innocence lost.
Still, there are more blessings than curses here. We have a genuine love, and we are mutually assured of that statement’s validity. Neither of us knows the fear of the other one leaving. Neither of us can imagine leaving. We still go on adventures together. And we still laugh together – just not as often and not as loudly. We never laugh like we did before we ate of the tree and began believing the lie.
But were it not for the bitter after-taste of that seductive fruit, humanity would know nothing of redemption. We would know nothing of hope, perseverance, or the value of something fought for. What if we could remember how to love each other unconditionally, not considering our own desires – not binding each other to our expectations? What if the serpent’s work could be undone?
This morning, David Grey is a prophet. He reminded me of something worth fighting for. He reminded me of hope, and he motivated me to persevere. Our slithering enemy has already been put to an open shame, and his head has been crushed. Redemption is ours, and I want to take hold of it. I want to be your safe place. And I want the lost world to see us and be envious of our well-lived life. I love you.