When Cupid’s Arrows Bring Pain

heart_with_arrow-1920x1440I am blessed to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my beautiful bride and love of my life, Heidi. Valentine’s Day 2012 was not so happy. I won’t go into details in this public place but many of our close friends and family know how much we struggled.

I know we’re not alone. Marriage is a gift and, like many gifts, it comes with human heartaches. Cupid’s arrows actually do pierce our hearts, bringing both romance and pain. There’s one very good reason for this, of course. Marriage, as good and holy and fulfilling and intimate as it can be, is a partnership between two imperfect people. Wait … imperfect does not feel strong enough here. Let’s try broken, severely messed up, fatally flawed. 

I agree with authors John and Stasi Eldredge, who say that marriage is a divine conspiracy. God, they say, lures two very different people together—both with different backgrounds and ways of relating and approaches to life. “Our mutual brokenness is drawn together like a match and gunpowder.”* God does this so that he can transform us … and, as the Eldredges say, to get us to face our styles of relating and repent of them. Others have said the same thing: marriage is not meant so much to make us happy as it is to make us holy. I can tell you that’s true.

Several years ago, in the midst of so much uncertainty and pain and heartache, I began meditating every day on Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I had to ask God to help me understand what it meant to delight in him. At first I prayed this in reverse. I asked God to give me the desires of my heart: restoration of my relationship with my wife … and then, when I got what I wanted, I would delight in God’s provision. God in his patience showed me something far better:

When I learned to delight in him regardless of the circumstances, he would give me my heart’s desire, because my desires would finally match up with his desires.

On Valentine’s Day 2012, I wrote these words in my journal:

I know, Lord, that you are in control. I once again surrender all this to you. I thank you with all my heart and I will be filled with joy because of you. Even in extremely difficult life circumstances, I can have joy in you and because of you. I delight in you! And that does not depend on my circumstances or situation. Today I will sing praises to your name, O Most High!

You may be celebrating Valentine’s Day alone, or perhaps you have a sense of uncertainty or you are in a state of pain and heartache. I don’t want to minimize or moralize your pain today with some sugary sweet Valentine’s Day platitudes. Yes, I am indeed blessed that my marriage has been resurrected. We are working on our relationship every day, reconciling with God’s grace, and being restored. We struggle but we do not struggle alone. Yet I realize that not all situations work out as ours has. I have many good friends who are still feeling the pain of loneliness, the lament of “Why is this happening?” the yearning for renewed hope.

My prayer for anyone who is hurting this Valentine’s Day is that you will find your hope … not primarily in a mate or a job or anything else that is perishable and undependable and broken. My desire for you, and me, and Heidi is to find our joy in a God who never leaves or forsakes us—to delight in him and allow his desires to overwhelm our own desires.

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* from Love and War, by John and Stasi Eldredge (Doubleday Religion, 2009).

Why I Ride … and Walk and Work for a Diabetes Cure

imageWarm sweat drips onto my phone as I write this post. I’m on my bike trainer on a cold, grey, rainy day spinning out 17 or so miles to try to stay in riding shape. Boston’s Greatest Hits blasts from my iPad. Without notice my pace quickens to the song “Smokin’.”

The music and the creative activity take my mind off the fact that this is an otherwise dull exercise. But even they don’t drive me to keep cranking.

As I ride past 12 miles with Seger now singing “Fire Down Below,” I think through my list of things that drive me to ride. I think first about my four teen and young-adult kids. I’m closing in on 45 years with type-1 diabetes,  and I am compelled to keep the pedals turning so I can someday walk my girls down the aisle and dance at all their weddings. I want to ride bikes with my grandkids. I simply want to keep going as long as I can.

But that’s not all. I’m spinning in my basement on February 1 so I can see the sweat drops hit my phone on my handlebars this spring and summer as I ride the roads for a cure for diabetes.

Look, I’m used to living with diabetes. I’ve dealt with this for 80 percent of my life. Truthfully, I’m OK with not being a recipient of a cure. Sure, that would be a big blessing. If given the opportunity to extend my eyesight, kidney function, ability to use my legs, and live another 10-20 years, I’d take it. But I’m in this fight mainly for the 11 year old who will be diagnosed this year. I want to raise money to provide the resources and remove all the barriers to finding a cure for that kid. I see his face now as I spin past 15 miles on the trainer, my heart rate accelerating as I stand up for a minute of faux hill climbing.

I’m not alone. I’m partnering with thousands of others like me with the same passion. We’ll be wearing red jerseys as we team up to ride for a cure for this disease. I’d love to see many more people join us as we ride together, or support us with donations, in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure.

Please join in!

Go to my personal Tour de Cure page to join us or donate, or just to get more information on this great cause.