Tag Archives: romance

Prince Charming

I want to try this love thing again. So far, romantic love in my life has left something to be desired. Get this: I’ve been engaged three times. (I’ve been proposed to four times, but I showed a little restraint once and said no.) And we all know how I was married that one time for almost five years. Romance is the bane of my existence. But for some unknown reason, I still believe in it. I am still willing to throw myself out there if I find a trustworthy, interested (and interesting) man. But some things will be different. I’m not looking for the same kind of man that I was five years ago when I got married. Or seven years ago when I was in the second engagement. Or nine years ago when I was in the first. Those men, all good men, just didn’t work out. I was looking for the wrong kind of thing.

I want someone whose heart has been broken so he knows how important it is to take precious care of love. I want someone who is nerdy about something, such that when he talks about it passion flushes his face. I want someone who has sinned, really screwed something up, so he lavishly gives and appreciates grace and mercy. I want someone imperfect but honest. I want someone who will happily live a lilting, peculiarly harmonious life with me, ready to heed God’s direction for us at any moment. Preferably, he’s not rich, powerful, or disarmingly handsome—I don’t trust those types. My Prince Charming may in fact not be charming at all, just someone who has experienced enough life to know that all we really have on this planet is God and the people who love us.

If God is in the business of giving me the desires of my heart, which the Bible promises to those who seek him, then I have to believe that somewhere out there is a man who will be my friend and who will profoundly love me, too. He will hold my hand when I’m scared and offer his coat when I’m cold. He’ll even overlook my tendency to overcook the eggs. I will look at him with awe and respect and tell everyone how blessed I am that he chose me. We’ll laugh at ourselves, we’ll eat chicken for dinner, we’ll take the dog to the park. We’ll make each other mad, and we’ll get over it. We’ll wonder how we’re going to make it, and we’ll get over it. We’ll enjoy lots of nothing-special days together. We will not be perfect. But we will create something extraordinary together: a life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Broken Beauty, Once Divorced, Twice Married

Erotic Bible Sex

I have this thing about names. My laptop is named, my car is named, I call my philodendron “Phil” and my lily “Lily.” Ever since I was a child, I have perused naming books with wild abandon, learning the meanings of as many names and onomastic morphemes as possible. As such, I have noticed over the years that a person’s name almost always reveals their character. My mom’s name, for example, means “pure.” The better I get to know her as a friend, not just my mother, the more I am convinced a purer heart can’t be found. My dad’s name is another example: it means “wagon maker”—a hard worker. Of all his wonderful traits, his work ethic and willingness to do whatever is necessary to provide are unparalleled. And in all the classes I have taught in the last nine years, rarely have I come across a person whose name is a mismatch for his or her character. (And who’s to say it won’t be a perfect match later in life?) Because I am somewhat of a mystic and a hippie, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence.

My own name has two very similar meanings. The way I spell it is the female form of the French word for “friend.” I don’t want to get off-track here, so suffice it to say that friendship is something I have always taken very seriously. My introverted tendencies make me very cautious about trusting and loving, but once I do, I am sold-out loyal forever. The second meaning for Amie/Amy—the one you’ll find in the name books—is “the beloved.” Imagine my surprise, then, as a name fiend, when I discovered that in Song of Songs the woman who exults in erotic love shares my name: “Beloved.”

I read Song of Songs a few weeks before I met my husband. Always before, I’d blown past it, thinking, “How awkward.” But curled up on my couch one evening, I was flipping through the Bible when I decided to try it out. Of course, at that point I had no idea the sexual difficulties I’d be battling in less than a year; I had no reason to believe sex would be anything other than outrageously wonderful. Still, it struck me that the woman’s name was “Beloved.” As someone who takes names so seriously, I felt a little as though I were reading something meant especially for me, something I needed to read. Kiss me and kiss me again, Beloved says. How fragrant is your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the women love you! Take me with you; come, let’s run! (Song of Songs 1:2-4a, NLT). (I find it humorous that the first two things Beloved praises about her man are how good he smells and the lovely feel of his name on her lips…That is so me. Cologne/aftershave have always been my favorite aphrodisiacs, and we all know how I love names.)

While I understood conceptually the idea of passionate love, I had never had a sex drive in my life. Even in the heat of making out, I’d never had any problem at all stopping with just that. Regardless of how intense the kissing, I wasn’t aroused or weak in the knees; it was just fun. Never had I craved sexual union, even though I cared deeply about some of the guys I dated. Never had I wanted to say, in Beloved’s words, “Take me with you.” The idea of “come, let’s run” was completely lost on me. For years, I asked God why he “knit me together” without this essential component. It was as though he’d said, “Let’s give her a measure of intelligence…put her in a good family…make sure she has a few talents…Okay, what’s left? Sexuality? Eh, she doesn’t need that.”

Not surprisingly, I didn’t transform into a nymphomaniac after my husband and I exchanged rings. It got much worse, given my multilayered struggle with sexuality. I prayed over and over that God would heal me physically, guide me to a healthier body image, challenge my opinion of sex, and give me a sex drive. Anytime I needed reassurance that eventually these things would happen for me, I read Beloved’s words, taking them as a promise of what was in store. I chose to believe that one day I would be able to say things like that, too. Listen to how lovely this is, for example:

I am my lover’s, and he claims he as his own. Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers…There I will give you my love…new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover (Song of Songs 7:10, 12, 13, NLT).

So I have gone about this journey, reminding myself of my name: I am “the beloved.” God made me with the opportunity to enjoy sexual union. The simple fact is that my destiny, inherent in my name, is to be the delight of my lover’s. My destiny is to echo Beloved’s words: When my lover looks at me, he is delighted with what he sees (Song of Songs 8:10b, NLT). My destiny is to “give my love,” the “delights” I possess, to my lover. Because I am Amie. I am Beloved.

To be continued. Don’t give up on me yet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Why I Used To Hate Sex

Roulette

Wedding days: tiaras, princes, romance, diamonds, ornate dresses. Kate Middleton isn’t the only one who dreamed it up like that. Well, my wedding was tiara-less, my hair was down, and my feet were bare under my simple dress. I’m a no-frills girl. Still, the hopes and dreams, the desire to be beautiful and to be claimed by a man in front of the people dearest to me—all of that was present. And four years ago on the 15th of June, I stood in front of the one who had chosen me and embarked on the marriage journey with him.

I didn’t go into it expecting a fairy tale. I knew the wedding itself would bear little resemblance to the life that would follow. After all, I am a sinful, imperfect person, and so is my husband. Regardless of what algebraic function we employ, two sinful, imperfect people will never equal a unit of perfect domestic bliss. No matter how beautiful the bride, how dashing the groom, how vivid the flowers, or how joyful the congregation, there will be troubling times.

Yesterday my counselor said to me one of the most honest things about romantic commitment that I’ve ever heard: “Relationships are a great gamble. When two people enter a committed relationship, they should be aware that things could go terribly wrong. Their love could die. Another could attract the attention of one of the partners. They could grow apart. I think the best thing two people can do is admit the reality of those possibilities from the outset. Is the love they have now worth the potential hurt later? Will they decide how to combat these dangers before they arise? Relationships are a gamble, always a gamble, but a good one.” Certainly, that is a far less romantic way of looking at love than what’s in the movies. It’s more fun to think of love as something that hits you when you see her lovely face laughing at a joke right before she notices you for the first time. It’s easier to think of love as an emotion that arises from attraction and compatibility and that, when it comes to you, lasts forever. Thinking of love as a risk with a potentially painful end is just depressing.

On the other hand, if we treat love this way, aren’t we actually elevating its status to something even more precious? If we’re willing to admit that sometimes things get broken, won’t it make us more determined to hold onto love when we find it? It seems to me that if two people can look at each other honestly and say, “I see your selfishness,” “I see your paranoia,” or “I see your fear,” knowing that those qualities left unchecked could destroy the relationship, and still be willing to take the risk, that is the miracle of love. To see another’s most ingrained faults and be willing to love him or her even if those traits never change, to be willing not to berate him or her for being imperfect, that is the hard work demanded by commitment. Perhaps making the decision to choose love over destruction each individual day is a more honest way of approaching a relationship than making a rash, often infatuation-driven, promise of eternal bliss early on and spinning the roulette wheel, betting on romantic fantasies.

I don’t believe committed love is left entirely to chance, of course. Unromantic, un-glorious grit and determination have their place. But it is equally true that we cannot know the future. In the limited scope of human wisdom, the enormity of our imperfection, and the frightening fickleness of attraction, “forever” cannot be certain. Even the Bible claims, There is…a time to kill and a time to heal…a time to embrace and a time to turn away…a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend (vv. Ecclesiastes 3:3a, :5b, :6b, :7a). Therefore, there are times committed love should be worked at and times it should be let go. Knowing this, admitting (but not dwelling on) the possibility of not-happily-ever-after, can paralyze us into an inability to love or can challenge us to hold love in the highest esteem, fighting for it however we can, even without knowing the outcome.

I believe there is magic in love, despite the reality of the risk. To find someone whose presence makes you feel peaceful, cherished, and deeply happy is not something to trivialize. To find someone who wakes you up from the inside out, who makes you feel special just by being who he or she is and allowing you to do the same, whose laugh delights you, who looks your faults in the eye and says, “I can work around that”…it’s a gift. Certainly one worth both the gamble, however scary, and the hard work, however frustrating. It reminds me of a quote of Benjamin Disraeli’s that Elizabeth Gilbert quotes in Committed: “There is no greater risk than matrimony. But there is nothing happier than a happy marriage” (1870). Today I wish you a successful roll of the dice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Once Divorced, Twice Married