Beloved [A Modern-Day Parable]
Josh watched silently as his wife sat in her favorite chair scrolling through her iPhone. After an appreciable time, he spoke her name quietly: “Mia.”
“Mm?” she replied, not lifting her eyes from the screen.
“Why did you cancel the dinner reservation I made for tonight?”
She looked up. “I told you ... I’d had a hard day – days, really – and just wanted to stay home.” Her eyes fell back to her phone and her finger swiped once, then again.
Josh’s voice was soft. “I know this week was really tough. That’s why I made the reservation. I wanted to treat you to an evening out.”
“That was sweet of you. But I’m fine, really.” Her eyes scanned words quickly and her finger tapped the surface of the screen.
The silence lengthened. Finally, Josh said, “I’m not.”
“Mia, please put down your phone.”
She glanced up at Josh then, with an audible sigh, put her phone on the side table. “Okay. What is it?”
“Do you love me?”
Mia’s eyebrows shot up. “Of course, I do!” she said, impatience coloring her tone. “You know that.” Her phone chimed and she turned toward it to scan the text message that had come through.
Josh looked away. “You told me once and you’ll let me know if it ever changes, huh?” he asked.
She laughed, then stopped abruptly as the pain in his voice finally penetrated her consciousness. “Oh, come on, Josh!” she replied tartly. “Don’t be like that. You know that I love you.”
He didn’t reply directly. In a reminiscent tone, he asked, “Do you remember our honeymoon? Spending full days just drinking in the joy of being married. Talking about everything, sharing the deepest parts of ourselves. Holding hands and walking the beach at night as we listened to the surf, laughing when the waves reached out to tickle our feet. Luxuriating in making love, then resting and loving each other again...”
“Is this about sex? Because I –”
“This isn’t about sex,” Josh cut her off sharply. “Or perhaps it is. It’s about having sex instead of making love. It’s about talking about what’s going on in your day instead of what’s going on in your heart.” Her phone chimed again and she dropped her eyes to it. His voice suffused with anger, Josh said, “It’s about prioritizing everything and everyone else over me – your husband.”
Mia’s face reflected her own anger. “That is not true! Don’t I always ask how your day went? Don’t I work hard at making a nice home? I pull my own weight around here, you know!”
Josh’s tone softened. “Yes, you do, and I always thank you for it, don’t I?”
Suddenly, Mia’s eyes fell. Almost inaudibly, she replied, “Yes, you do.”
“But, Mia, the things you do for me and the things I do for you aren’t what make a marriage. They are good; they are important ... but the heart of a marriage is really just about two people: you and me.”
Mia was mute.
“I brought up our honeymoon because I miss you ... the real you, the whole you. Because I am hoping ... crying out ... begging to know if you miss me – the real me, the whole me.”
Mia rallied a bit and said with asperity, “All life can’t be a honeymoon, you know!”
Josh looked at her steadily. “But intimacy can.” He patted the couch cushion next to him. “Come here, Mia.”
For a moment, she didn’t shift. Then she came over and sat down stiffly. Josh reached out to her but she jerked away and wouldn’t meet his eyes. He dropped his hand.
“I would do anything for you, Mia.” Josh’s voice was gentle. “My heart, my life is yours – you know that.”
He took her cold, still hand in his. “Admit it, Mia. You’re just going through the motions. Doing all the things you ‘should’ be doing, but without any spark, any zest. You’ve become comfortable, relying on me to provide for you and secure your future.
“Every day, I urge you to clear away time so we can really connect with one another, but you give me just a few minutes and then jump up to do some task or you get sucked into your phone.
“I long to hold you in my arms and delight in you, and to know that you delight in me. But you just want to get it over with to ‘meet my needs’ and then go to sleep. That doesn’t ‘meet my needs’ at all ... and it doesn’t meet yours, either.
“I keep asking you when I can plan a long weekend in the mountains so that we can revive the fire between us. You brush me off and tell me that our calendar is too hectic for that.”
Josh reached out again to gently turn Mia’s face toward him. She had trouble meeting his gaze. “Mia,” he said tenderly. “I love you – with everything I am. You are my greatest treasure, my beloved. But for our marriage to survive, I need you to love me the way you used to – with all your heart and all your soul. I need to know that I am your greatest treasure. I need you to show me that I am your beloved. Otherwise, Mia, the fire that is faltering now will die.”
Their eyes met and neither said a word.
“I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5)