Journal entry 051310: Changing my life

Saturday afternoon I was at Lowe’sbuying a few PVC pieces for our drip irrigation system when I heard the song “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” by England Dan and John Ford Coley (1976). I instinctively grabbed my phone and texted the lyrics to Cyndi: “There’s a warm wind blowing, the stars are out, and I’d really love to see you tonight.” We often send lyrics to each other.

Cyndi texted back, “It’s 61 degrees outside. The warm breeze must be coming from inside your heart. Thanks. I love you.”

Later we were talking about that song and I said, “I couldn’t text the line – I don’t want to change your life. Changing your life is one of my main objectives.”

She said, “I know. Me too.”

I said, “And I hope you keep changing mine.”

She said, “I know. Me too.”

I had been listening to an audio book by Elizabeth Gilbert titled Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. She wrote, “Love limits, almost by definition. Love narrows. The great expansion we feel in our hearts when we fall in love is matched only by the great restrictions that will necessarily follow.”

To personalize Gilbert’s writing, I would say Cyndi and I have an easygoing relationship, but don’t be fooled: I have claimed her as my own. Her energies belong to me and to no one else – not even entirely to herself anymore. She owes me things like information, explanations, fidelity, constancy, and details about the most mundane little aspects of her life. And I belong to her, in exactly the same measure. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about her husband, “I have therefore fenced him off from the rest of the herd.”

The Apostle Paul wrote the same thing in I Corinthians 7:4 – “For the wife has no longer full rights over her own person, but shares them with her husband. In the same way the husband shares his personal rights with his wife.”

For some people, these may be good reasons never to get married. Why allow another person rights over your own body? Who would want that? Wouldn’t you rather be in charge of yourself and not have to answer to anyone?

The verse reminded me of a scene in the movie Air Force One (1997) with Harrison Ford, after the airplane had been hijacked and the president chose NOT to use the secret escape pod but instead remained on the plane. When his team back in Washington learned that he didn’t take the opportunity to escape one of them criticized his decision: “He has no right not to escape. Doesn’t he know he belongs to the country and not to himself?” (That is an approximate quote; it’s been awhile since I last saw the movie.)

His point was that the office of President was bigger than the selfish wishes of one single man. The President of the United States lived his life in a bigger story and he was responsible to a wider sphere.

I think that is what Apostle Paul was talking about in I Corinthians when he said neither husbands nor wives have absolute rights over themselves, but they belong to each other. We give up our personal rights in order to live in a bigger story, to move beyond our selfish personal self-interest and live in a wider sphere.

Again, from Elizabeth Gilbert, “This is what intimacy does to us over time. That’s what a long marriage can do: It causes us to inherit and trade each other’s stories. This, in part, is how we become annexes of each other, trellises on which each other’s biography can grow. His private history becomes a piece of my memory; my life gets woven into the material of his.”

As for me, I like being woven into Cyndi’s story. It’s true that I go to great lengths to keep my life private and to limit my exposure and to minimize expectations and to keep to myself. Yet being responsible to Cyndi and knowing she has ownership over my personal rights is one of the best parts of my life. I don’t resent checking in with Cyndi before scheduling something on my calendar – rather, I am happy to have someone to check in with, someone who cares enough about me to have an opinion. I’m glad to know I am not alone but on a team with someone else.



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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