Currently I am participating in a discussion group at my church on C.S. Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters. I have read the book multiple times and it is very good, but what is really interesting me this time is the conversation. Episcopalians are fascinating people and I am really enjoying the varied input.
This past week a woman made a comment that I cannot get out of my head. Her insight cut right to my heart and I cannot stop thinking about it.
In one of the letters the demons discuss The Patient's relationship with his mother and how he becomes annoyed with her frequently. As we can all relate to, when you see someone on a daily basis, even the tiniest things about them (their mannerisms, the way they laugh, the lift of an eyebrow) can become irksome. Eventually it can come to the point that you believe the person is actually performing those annoyances just to specifically bother you.
The woman I was sitting next to raised her hand and mentioned that her husband had died from prostate cancer two years ago. That alone made my heart ache for her, as I noticed that she still had her engagement and wedding rings securely on her left ring finger. She said that when he was diagnosed they knew he was not going to survive and so they got to savor and cherish those last months, days, and moments. When they knew it was the end of their time together on this earth, all of those "annoyances" suddenly disappeared.
For some reason that comment has been sticking like a stone in my heart. I understand that in the daily-ness of life we get bogged down, start to take things for granted, and feel irritations. I am not saying that is necessarily wrong. But how I wish I could start living the other way today. While I am not saying good bye to a loved one (although I supposed we are never really sure when we are saying "good bye" to someone), I would like to live in a way that cherishes and savors instead of nitpicks and sighs.
This also reminds me of the scene in American Beauty where Annette Benning's character finds her dead husband and goes up to his closet and just melts into his hanging clothes. Throughout the movie she was nothing short of hatefully annoyed with her husband, but when she realized he was gone, she missed him.
At everyone's core is a person who desperately needs to be loved by God and others. The bothersome behaviors and quirks are like petals on a flower - hiding and sometimes protecting the core. I want to focus on the person. The heart. The soft place, which is full of God-given personality, passion, and vulnerability.
I do not think this is an easy task, but I want to challenge myself to truly know and love the people God has graciously placed in my life. With their annoying habits and all.