A Gladness in the Eyes, A Novel
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The Woman in the Elevator
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Beauty and Meaning in Unlikely Places
Like what you see here? Please bear with me…this is a long one. A few weeks ago, Edric and I were out of the country in a restaurant having breakfast when a curvy woman walked into the buffet area. I saw him look over my shoulder so I quickly turned my head to see what distracted him. It was a romantic and sweet pledge. But what did that sentence mean?
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Or did it mean that even if he noticed other women with his eyes, he had programmed them to desire me only? We travel quite often and I knew better than to believe that this statement meant he would never ever look at the millions of gorgeous women in the world! Whatever it was at the time, I felt like, in comparison to her, she was a spring chicken and I was, well, an autumn chicken. What intensified my jealousy further was when Edric rushed to the elevator as we exited the buffet when that same woman entered into it. Both of us like to have lots of elbow room in enclosed spaces.
For the next twenty-four floors of our descent, I used my expert peripheral vision which all women also have to watch him closely. Yes, he certainly has eyes only for me! Well, as you can probably guess by now, he still tried to look at her, albeit with as much discretion as he could apply, ahem…being the gentleman that he is. I kept my cool, ahem…being the lady that I am, not wanting to admit that I felt threatened in any way. There was no aggression in my tone…at first.
Since his response seemed inconsistent with his actions I persisted. Naturally, this annoyed him terribly so he became quiet.
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For the rest of the morning, as we prepared to speak on marriage and parenting, we stayed on opposite sides of the room and avoided speaking to one another. When it was finally time for lunch, we were sitting in Nandos, a place we have enjoyed multiple times in the past for its South African deliciousness. On the outside everything seemed fine. Did I go into the elevator because she was in there?
But was it more interesting that she was in the elevator? He is making this about semantics! After you said that you have eyes only for me, you still kept looking at the girl. It seemed inconsistent, and I have experienced this during our other trips. This is the devil trying to divide us before we do ministry this afternoon. This is not a big deal. Where did that come from? Oh wait, yes I do. I thought he was being the devil for being the source of my pain. I felt hurt and jealous. Needless to say, Edric felt very disrespected.
This was the first time he had been called a devil by me from across the table, with the half-eaten chicken skewer still dangling between us. Not the prayer card!
Can you believe I was thinking these things?! I do have a problem. I can improve. I can be more disciplined about my eyes.
Out of guilt, I apologized to Edric for my disrespect. How do I know this? When Edric suggested that I pray for our event, I dismissed him. Admittedly, my reaction to what transpired at the buffet and in the elevator was ridiculous, especially to people who may read this who actually deal with infidelity in their marriages. So Edric looked at a beautiful woman more times than he usually does when he sees someone attractive…big deal…so what?! Why did the event make me so hostile? I was looking to Edric to affirm me and make me feel unparalleled and unrivaled in his eyes.
Yes, I know it was such a self-centered desire, but for someone like me who has struggled with body esteem issues over the years, the pain felt so real. Things have changed…the romance, the undying love and affection, and eyes-only-for-you-professions! Blah, blah, blah. How could I have been thinking these thoughts before a talk about biblical marriage and parenting?! This was the sadder part of it all.
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I was so broken over a trivial episode when so many people in the audience were actually hurting from real problems in their marriages and families! Edric proceeded to the venue to set up his computer and I took a detour by stopping at the toilet. Thankfully, the toilet was so private, like a prayer cell that was walled in on all sides. Do you not know how much I love you? I love you more than Edric ever will. What you want from him only I can give you. It was due to a flaw in my focus.
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I wanted Edric to make me feel beautiful, cherished, and important. On the one hand this desire was a natural consequence of giving myself wholly to him in marriage. I gave my heart to him, after having evaluated that he was the safest person on this planet to give my heart to. However, it came with an unspoken expectation — Edric, you better make me feel special. God's love guards us, protects us, grows us, strengthens us, and compels us to walk in greater trust and holiness.
This is no passive affection, but a feisty, fiery pledge to grow us into the fullness of Christ. When we embrace this love and cultivate an awareness of it, our hearts are filled with joy Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy, p. When we fight back with joy, we embraced a reality that is more real than what we are enduring and we awaken to the deepest reality of our identity is beloved, joyful children of God Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy, pp.
You are founded enjoy, created for joy, and destined for joy. Joy is where you come from. Joy is what you are created to experience. Joy is where you are headed.
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Joy is your heritage, purpose, and destiny. Joy is a far more dynamic, forceful weapon and most of us realize. The abiding sense that you are fiercely loved by God? That kind of joy empowers you to rise above any circumstance Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy, p. Sometimes we need to get space for grief in order to make room for joy. No one is immune to sorrow, and only those who learn to grieve well can we recapture the healing it brings. Just as light darkness, so Joy needs grief. And just as night precedes morning, so joy comes in the mourning Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy, p.
Sometimes we sweep away opportunities to grieve by convincing ourselves the loss is no big deal or if we ignore the loss, it will vanish. They never do. Some of the losses that need the most grieving took place decades ago. When we don't allow ourselves to grieve well, something inside us dies.