I-Thou occurs in moments when we are fully present. For an instant I think of the other person not in terms of what I need, but rather, I give fully of myself to know another. It is a complete encounter. In such flashes of intimacy, there is a confluence of luck and will. That is, you must be prepared for such a moment but you cannot force it. — David Wolpe, excerpt from Why Faith Matters
This July 4th weekend, I made a last minute decision to come upstate and spend a couple of days with my folks. There are many reasons to come: absolutely gorgeous scenery, the quietness of suburbia, the freedom to breathe in and out without feeling like toxins are adulterating my body… not to mention Mom’s home cooking that restores my body and soul to their wholeness as I’ve been chomping on Shake Shack and other less-than healthy goodness back home in the city. Though a large part of my childhood was spent in upstate NY, I think I’m a city person at heart (that’s for a different post). But this, this serenity that is upstate New York… nothing compares and it’s a much needed regular excursion.
There’s never a dull moment being at home with my parents. In my adulthood, it’s been good to be able to have a conversation with them and share openly about topics that I was afraid to address in the past. Religion, government, economy, the latest political scandal, my dating life… some or all of these topics come up in any given visit and I’m very interested in what they have to say about it all. Other topics, I’ve learned to just shut my mouth and listen. I go into 8th grade mode, just listen and nod. Some things, we’ll never agree on, it seems.
Today, maybe for the first time, I observed that both of my parents are deep thinkers and they are able to verbally express themselves very well. They rarely think about anything lightly and think everything through comprehensively, though sometimes, approach life a bit differently from each other. On the other hand, they also love to watch funny Korean shows, golf and Wheel of Fortune. They love to laugh – in fact, I don’t even have to know what they’re laughing about but when I hear them, I want to laugh also. It’s infectious.
Oh.My.Goodness. I am just like them.
I’ve always thought marriage is a miracle because it’s a union of two broken people who willingly commit to each other. It’s a lifelong endeavor of trying to relate to another human being, who at one moment could be infinitely close and the next, infinitely distant. It’s a rather scary commitment. The closer you are, the more likely that the pain I inflict will hurt that much more. The closer you are, the more distant it feels when there is a rift between us. And I suppose that is where the gap in my frail little heart lies.
I forget much too often that the other side of this union is elation, joy, climax, the wonderdul experience that closeness and intimacy brings – that all of this is ours to be had. If we have been created for relationship, marriage can potentially be the the nearest reflection of my future perfect union with my creator. And this is where I am having the greatest revelation these days. For me, it’s easy to focus on the hardship and much harder to consider the goodness of relationship. Along with the struggle of relating, we can just as much experience something truly beautiful.
Being 30+ can be a precarious time in life. I’m still in no rush to be married but I definitely feel THE rush of everyone around me, male and female alike, to find that special someone. A lot of times, I step into the sidelines and just try to hold onto myself as much as possible without being swept away. I admit that I find myself, at times, wishing for things for my own selfish reasons and I have to keep vigilant about focusing on relationship. In my heart, I’m not interested in being “married”, having a “boyfriend” or “husband” if all I’m going to end up with is a person with a title. The flip side of this unwanting is that perhaps I’m scared to be that close to someone, or something inside me refuses to believe that there is someone who could really love me. Actually, the thought of someone possibly deciding to commit to me for life, after knowing me in all of my glory and shame, beauty and brokenness, emphasis on shame and brokenness – that is almost unfathomable. It’s complex. I haven’t figured anything out, and I doubt I ever will. There is only one thing I know for sure.
I want relationship. A complete encounter.
That’s the bottom line. And the top line and everything in between.