As my mother got older, she would retire each night earlier and earlier. She was not one to take naps, but strove valiantly to use every precious moment of her life in keeping active and doing good. An avid lifetime genealogist, she maintained a tremendous correspondence with thousands of people up until the day she entered the hospital a couple of weeks before she passed away.
Invariably, when one retires for the night earlier and earlier over the years – first at 9pm, then 8pm and finally 7pm – the waking hours also come earlier and earlier. Mother would find herself wide awake at 4am, then 3am, then 2am. And wouldn’t you know it? The same pattern has been developing in my life. My mind snaps awake too early now with a multitude of racing thoughts.
I call upon the Lord in prayer for relief, but lately have resigned myself to responding to what I believe are promptings of the spirit to write and to share. I don’t always know what the Lord wants me to write when I start, but the very act of letting my thoughts flow through my fingers brings feelings and ideas I believe are from the Lord. Such is the case this early morning hour.
Mansplaining Love and Romance
For the past few nights, my thoughts have turned to love. I’m not a young man, am happily married and wonder why such feelings would demand my attention at 2am. I think often during the day of the love of my Savior. My prayers each morning petition His presence in my walk through life. My prayers at night thank Him for His comfort and sweet influence each day.
These feelings of love are profound. Normally men aren’t very good at explaining love and I am no different. Men in our culture learn at a young age to be stoic and staid when it comes to such things as romance. Years of living with Carol, one of whose favorite stations is the Hallmark Channel, have introduced me to more shows about falling in love than any man should ever see.
Being married to a romance writer has enriched my life in ways I never thought possible. Even though I was raised with four sisters, I never understood just how strong the desire for romance is in a woman. Carol has demonstrated for me the idea that “happily ever after” is more than a fairy tale – it can be a reality. I’ve also learned of another type of romance – “happy for now.”
Happy For Now – a Daily Reality
Don’t think of “happy for now” as a lesser kind of love. Think of it as a daily goal, one that is achievable and desirable. It’s a skill I’ve noticed some women have – perhaps all women – that is not built-in to the male psyche, or at least not into mine. When I’m alone for extended periods of time, I’m a pretty miserable and irrational fellow. I do stupid things that I just can’t explain.
When I’m with Carol, even if only for a few hours in the evening after a long day at work, I am content to simply sit at Carol’s side either in front of the TV, watching yet another Hallmark show or side by side at our computers as we write or edit stories and essays. I can’t begin to describe the joy I feel when Carol asks me to read aloud to proof edit one of her latest chapters.
This woman can write. Her stories move me with empathy and compassion for her characters. My stories focus on action, adventure and danger, while Carol’s stories focus on the simple human experience of building a relationship. I confess I never thought about such things growing up. Based on my behavior, my sisters must have thought boys were pretty icky.
Conversations with the Lord
Where am I going with this? Stick with me for a minute and we’ll both find out. When I pray to my Heavenly Father each night, I often discover I am actually speaking with my Savior. This started a few years ago. At first I would catch myself and switch back to the more formal way in which I addressed Father. I would sense a smile from both my Father and my Savior as I did so.
I no longer try to make a distinction. I have discovered the Lord is happy to talk to me and has no qualms about guiding me in my thoughts as I pray. He doesn’t mind that I address him directly. We speak all day long anyway. Why should a kneeling prayer at night be any different? We talk about my work, about my worries and concerns and about the people with whom I interact daily.
Carol and I pray together morning and night. Well, morning prayers together are not as common because I’m often on the road before 7am to get to work on time. I am grateful for the lifelong habit of praying together each night as husband and wife. When asked if she would like to be the voice for our evening prayer, Carol always seems to be willing to let me lead out in our worship.
Sacred Moments as Husband and Wife
And worship it is. Feelings come into my heart when I pray with Carol that are significantly more profound than the feelings I experience when I pray on my own afterward. There is an added strength when praying together. A desire for unity enters my soul. Expressions that are tender and sweet escape my lips that I ordinarily don’t use in those personal, private prayers.
I was criticized a month or two ago by a reader who felt my discussion of married life with Carol was inappropriate. I conceded his point that if I shared something on my blog that caused Carol to feel uncomfortable then I probably should not share it. If this anonymous reader wants to take exception at this post, I am happy to hear what he has to say about his own experience in prayer.
There is a reason God said it is not good for man to be alone. Some men can do it, but I always had difficulties when Carol went away to visit family for sometimes weeks at a time. I would throw myself into my work and come home as late as possible to keep from feeling lonely. That’s another thing our culture frowns upon. If men get lonely, they go hang with the boys.
The Value of a Combined Effort
I admit I’m different. If I am alone I would rather think, read, study, pray, ponder, write or otherwise do something with my mind on the computer that helps me interact with a large but unseen audience of readers. Creativity for me is best when Carol is around. I confess I try to outdo her in friendly competition, but when I’m alone, the creative muse seems to disappear.
Carol is my muse. I write for her, even though she has said she doesn’t care for my posts. I should listen to Carol more. Character development is where it’s at. Theories and ponderings on doctrine, commentaries on scripture which seem to generate endless arguments, or discussions, and explanations of the way I think things are, pale in comparison to building relationships.
I can just hear my women readers at this point… “Well, duh, of course relationships are the most important thing.” No seriously, men don’t naturally think that way, at least I don’t, or haven’t, until recently. It’s my observation most men love to write about things in a way that shows they have been thinking seriously about a subject and are now ready to tell the world how things are.
Spicing Up The End of the World
I’ve been working on an end-of-the-world type novel for over five years. It has been a very slow process. Some chapters are downright exciting. Others are still obvious first drafts. I set one goal this year or at least one goal I have shared publicly. I want to finish that novel. When I started writing fiction, it was at Carol’s request to join her in writing adventures. Our paths diverged.
I think the reason the Lord has been waking me up in the early morning hours is because that’s when He has my undivided attention. I’ve had just enough rest where, if I had to, I could write a few hours and still function normally during the day. These thoughts of love I’ve been feeling lately are causing me to ask the Lord seriously what He is trying to communicate. I think I know.
When Carol and I first talked about my novel, she got so excited about the possible romances that could blossom between the characters. My efforts to put some of those ideas into the story backfired. After all, this was a story of death and destruction. Who has time for romance? Well, the Lord has been telling me Carol was right. I need to try harder on the relationship aspect.
A Project to Strengthen a Marriage
Can writing a work of fiction together as husband and wife be fulfilling? I think so. I’m not sure how or when I’m going to carve out the time, but if the Lord is going to wake me up at 2am each morning until I pay attention, then perhaps He knows a whole lot more than I do about writing. Somehow, someway, He will help us work it out so we can get this book written … together.
I hope it’s not the Lord’s plan to continue waking me at 2am with ideas for the book, but if that’s what He has in mind, then I’m willing. I can give my drafts to Carol to edit and critique during the day, then edit them at night when I get home. You know what they say, “Don’t quit your day job.” I have no dreams of publishing a best seller. I just want to get this book out of my system.
They say everyone has a book in them, but they’ll never write themselves. Its hard work to write and edit, re-write and then re-write some more until a story really flows. I’ve completed enough chapters that I’m familiar with the process. If this is what the Lord wants me to do, then there must be a reason for it. I sure hope this isn’t beyond me with all I do each day at the airport.
But in the end, does anyone really say, “I wish I’d spent more time away from home on the job?”