The Butterfly Effect {Gift from the Sea 4: Double-Sunrise}

Sometimes I want to forget that summer. I want to forget the tangled strands of brunette and the stomach that knotted as the ferry lurched into the Tangier port, the place where bold turquoise cranes hid earth-toned buildings that stair-stepped the hill, where hefty ships hauled towers of metal cargo.

I want to forget the tears that dried before they could trickle into my mint tea in the market town that burned like an oven. I want to forget how I shushed him and called him simple when he tried to cool me down, talk me out of my fear.

I want to forget the girls at the Algeciras port and all their talk of butterflies in the stomach that told them for sure they were in love with their men. It wasn’t that I’d never had the fluttery feeling. I had felt it when a friend introduced Craig and me in the low light of the bowling alley six years earlier. When he walked in to meet my parents wearing a Vandy T-shirt and right away had my mom convinced that he was the one for me. When he whispered the carved words in the echoing chamber of the Lincoln Memorial.

When we sat on the steps of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at the circle, counting every American flag in view before I left for my year abroad in China. When he sent the “Esc with me” card during my stay in Thailand. When we spent Memorial Day at the park hiking and talking about family and future and stretching the day into evening listening to music on the floor of my room.

When he read Jim Elliot’s journals and talked the entire dinner about them right before my first trip to Spain. When he showed up in his dad’s brand new Corvette and drove me on dirt roads under the lemon-wedge moon squeezing out the last bit of summer. When he took me on the Ferris Wheel in the sweet corn capital of the world, and when he kissed me after. So many times, I had felt the butterflies.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh opened the two halves of the double-sunrise shell and described it this way, recalling the flitting innocence of fresh love: “Each side, like the wing of a butterfly, is marked with the same pattern; translucent white, except for three rosy rays that fan out from the golden hinge binding the two together…. For the first part of every relationship is pure…. It is pure, simple and unencumbered….a self-enclosed world.” I had felt the butterflies all those times before, and now I wanted them caged, with me always as proof of enduring love.

Three months from our wedding date, instead of the tickly, light and airy sensation in the stomach, I felt all the weight of those cargo ships at the port. I wanted to keep “the artist’s vision” without ever having to “discipline it into form.” I wanted “the flower of love before it has ripened to the firm but heavy fruit of responsibility.”

Soon, I found myself walking down the sidewalk with our team leader, Fouad. Tears kept flowing and I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I was embarrassed that my emotions had gushed out and created all this turbulence. He had known me seven years by then, even longer than Craig, and had seen me through my college years and several continents’ worth of ministry. And now, he was helping guide me through these uncharted waters.

As we walked and talked about my relationship with Craig, Fouad led me to one vital question. “Who do you trust?” he asked. Not “Who makes your veins go fiery?” or “Who makes you weak in the knees?” though Craig had indeed caused those symptoms in me before. I tilted my head. No hesitation. I trusted Craig. I brushed the tears from my face.

Craig’s name means “rock,” and it fits him well. There had never been a time in all my years of knowing him that I had been unsure of his feelings for me, or his intentions for us. He stood unshakeable and I liked that. I needed that.

Fouad and I continued to talk. He asked more questions. What does the Lord say? What does wise counsel say? All of it added up. Our leader was righting this wayward vessel. I had been expecting the impossible, believing the fable that love was equal to a continuous tingly sensation.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in all of her relationship experience (and failure), recognized that “…there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth…. Beautiful, fragile, fleeting, the sunrise shell; but not, for all that, illusory.”

The butterfly sensations of our young love were no illusion, but they were not a fit foundation for relationship either. While I already loved and trusted Craig, the heavy work of getting through my insecurities that summer only made me trust him all the more.

So often in these eight years of marriage, we’ve been able “to find the miracle of the sunrise repeated,” in witnessing God’s miraculous intervention in hopeless circumstance, in perfectly-timed shooting stars, in the raw emotion of natural childbirth, in catching each other’s eye in the teamwork of raising little ones, and as we follow our creative call in making music and working with words together.

And while the fluttery feelings are no prerequisite for enduring love, they are not absent either. In this changing, growing relationship, we can take time to renew the youth of our marriage “like a dip in the sea” and welcome the butterflies when they come.

{This week’s post is based on Chapter 4, “Double-Sunrise” in Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. View all entries in the series here.}

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So, what’s your take? Pick one or more of the reflection questions in the comments section and enter a reply to share your thoughts. All subscribers’ comments on the weekly Gift from the Sea posts (shared on Mondays in June and July) will be entered for a drawing at the end of our Summer Book Club 2012.

50 thoughts on “The Butterfly Effect {Gift from the Sea 4: Double-Sunrise}

  1. REFLECTION QUESTION #1: On page 57, the author spends much time detailing the early stage of relationship as “pure, simple and unencumbered” and the later stages of relationship as “complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world.” What is your experience with the different stages? Do these descriptions apply as much to friendship as they do to the marriage relationship?

    • This is so interesting because I was just thinking about friendships and how wonderful and easy they can be initially. Then end up so taxing. Becoming an interference instead of a bonus in our lives. The effort to maintain. It can be draining. But most worthwhile things take effort and blood, sweat, and tears at times!! Just like marriage. It’s harder to force yourself to not allow for an easy out with friendships vs. a stick with it attitude.

    • I agree that both would apply. People do not want to have to work at anything. Everything should be comfortable and right when it’s not… this world encourages us to move on. It saddens my soul bcuz I see the richness in working on my marriage and my friendships. It all deepens with time and the trust that is built in the difficult times allows such security in the long run.

    • I remember being on a ministry team overseas a decade ago. Due to the nature of our location, we were each other’s teammates, classmates, friends, family and church all in one. By mid-year tensions were nearing the breaking point, several little misunderstandings that had grown too heavy in silence. Around Christmas, we ended up having a super uncomfortable, terribly emotional hash-it-all-out talk and that was the best thing that ever happened to us. It brought a new, refreshing authenticity to the relationship and by the end we were bonded more closely than any other team we knew of. I have brought this understanding into a couple of valued friendships back home in the U.S. When you find a friend who is willing to do the hard work of working through complicated times together, you grow to know and love each other that much more deeply. So thankful for these rare gems.

  2. REFLECTION QUESTION #2: Anne Morrow Lindbergh says that the beginning of a relationship is “like the artist’s vision before he has to discipline it into form, or like the flower of love before it has ripened to the firm but heavy fruit of responsibility” and that “…somehow, we mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is tragedy…. It moves to another phase of growth which one should not dread, but welcome as one welcomes summer after spring” (57-58). How would this change in perspective affect the relationship outlook for people in your circle? What guidance would you offer for those relationships having trouble with the transition from vision to form, or from early flower to heavy fruit?

    • Don’t give up. The moving from one phase into another can strain but strengthen all the more. The light can be even brighter at the end of the next phase!

    • I am in the midst of this very things in a circle of friendship. It is so difficult to encourage that these moments of discomfort are the ones where God grows us personally as well as the relationship.

    • At AML’s high school graduation dinner, she was asked a question that many graduates hear: what is your life’s ambition? AML, with an artist’s vision responded “I want to marry a hero” (Eisenhower, 1977, p. 127).

      That was two and a half years before Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight.

      An unknown burden….a heavy responsibility to be the wife of someone famous.

      • It’s a privilege to have a librarian in the mix here!!! I love your insights. I read in one biography (don’t have my bibliography work done very well!) that she and her sister were both looking for heroes, or what they called “sparklers”. I wonder sometimes if she may have gotten more than she bargained for. Many articles on the net describe him as having been a rather controlling individual at times…and it came out after AML’s death that her husband had been hiding two or three other families with children that he had fathered in Europe. Reeve ended up meeting her half-siblings later, a gesture of grace. But I’m sure even before that there were very heavy things that Mrs. Lindbergh had to deal with beyond the responsibility of managing a home and caring for children.

      • In one of the sources I read, it looked like she and her sister were looking at the SAME sparkler. But, after Charles found out about Anne’s sister’s poor health, his interest turned to Anne… He knew he wanted a healthy, unafraid co-pilot.

        I wonder what it did to Anne’s pride to be 2nd in line? Or if that was just a place a younger sister of her time was willing to take, if it meant being with Charles.

        • I read that too! I had wondered if there was any tension between the sisters on that one. I also read that Elisabeth’s heart problems were a catalyst for Charles Lindbergh’s medical research with a scientist friend of his later on.

  3. REFLECTION QUESTION #3: On page 60, the author mentions a false belief that can lead to infidelity. In my reading, I have discovered several articles that mention an affair Anne Morrow Lindbergh allegedly had in the early 1950s (i.e., http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/12/12/reviews/991212.12eakint.html). It seems her words here come from a very personal place: “The temptation is to blame the situation on the other person and to accept the easy solution that a new and more understanding partner will solve everything. But neither woman nor man are likely to be fed by another relationship which seems easier because it is in an earlier stage.” What are your thoughts on this? Have you noticed any other dangerous lines of thinking that men and women should guard against as they seek to protect the marriage?

    • I can say from experience that a new and more understanding partner has solved many of the problems I faced in an earlier relationship. However, I discovered my new and understanding partner years after the former relationship ended. I have always thought that getting a new partner in the middle of a relationship would ruin everything… (chances for reconciliation as well as chances for a new start with someone new) not solve things. But, my dad has been married to his cheating partner for over 30 years, so there are always exceptions to what I know to be true.
      Dangerous lines of thinking:
      “My [insert gender] friends are exactly the same as my [insert other gender] friends…”
      “I can be facebook friends with my ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend. My husband/wife doesn’t mind a bit…”
      “Having an emotional relationship with someone I’m attracted to isn’t REALLY cheating…”
      “Alcohol/drug use makes me a BETTER partner…I’m way more mellow…”
      “I know what my partner thinks, so I don’t need to ask.”
      “My husband knows what I think, so I shouldn’t have to say it.”
      “S/he knows how I feel, so I don’t need to get all mushy.”
      “S/he knows I’m sorry, so we don’t have to talk about it again…”
      I read an earlier version of this book, which really helped me think about building hedges around my marriage: http://shop.familylife.com/p-1370-hedges-loving-your-marriage-enough-to-p.aspx

      • I appreciate your honesty here, Julie. Have been processing your words for a while. Like Anne said in the book *life is not a beach* – I think we realize this (all of us) through various events in our lives. But we weren’t promised the easy breezy to begin with. It’s hard. Thinking of great years ahead for you. Best wishes.

      • Oh, Julie, I want to send these lines around as a public service announcement! Such wisdom here. I think my early exposure to broken marriages (through observing the fall out from a pastor that cheated on his wife) has made me extra sensitive to drawing healthy boundaries like never being alone with any of the staff guys when I worked for our church. Most of those guys had the same standard, so it was easy not to find myself in an uncomfortable situation. Recently, a local woman who does church work full-time posted thoughts like this at http://goodwomenproject.com/marriage/boundaries-no-one-is-above-an-affair. While I intuitively felt some of the things on your list while I was growing up, I had to learn other healthy boundaries in my engagement and then marriage, through talking with my husband about what he is comfortable with. As I look back now on some of the things I thought were appropriate a decade ago, I’m a little embarrassed! It is vital to cut off contact with past loves, like pulling weeds from the garden, to let true love flourish. All that you’ve said here…about the boundaries and about the expression of love in marriage and more…such good stuff.

      • Really interesting site you linked us to, Darcy. Some good advice there about creating healthy boundaries. Like you, I wish I would’ve known some of these things as a younger woman. Honestly, even if I would’ve known them, I don’t think I would’ve felt empowered to demand them from others (“I will not listen to you bash your wife…” “I will not be in the office alone with you…”). I’m so glad that growth is part of our journey!
        Kerry, thanks for the good wishes. We are celebrating year one this week – so we’re still in the “life’s a beach” phase :) Each day I count my blessings for getting to experience this phase, and I try not to fret about the stages ahead of us.

      • With the Facebook/email… All of it – we share the same account. Yes to the never being/going alone with opposite sex. And yes, Darcy, we had a similar situation when someone near and dear to us (a pastor friend) cheated on his wife during their fifth pregnancy. This was eye-opening for us. Emotional relationships can be the death of so many marriages, like you touched on Julie. This is one of the scariest to me. Keeping the communication lines open is a task at times, but crucial. Easier said than done. Voicing needs. And I definitely default to the he-should-be-able-to-read-my-mind-by-now way too often. The respect thing, too. I know that is huge for men like love is for women … But I have to say that I appreciate the respect on his end, towards me. A lot. And him showing that in front of others. I grew up in a family where my mom was more the butt of joking moreso than respected. I hated that.

    • I always cringe when I hear a married woman refer to another man as “like a brother to me” because he is not. Spending too much time and conversation with another man is danger! “Every woman’s battle” is a book I highly recommend. It was eye-opening for me to my naivety.

      • Thanks, Tristi. By this time in my life I get why my dad was always telling me men and women can’t just be friends. It is best to err on the side of caution and draw good boundaries (i.e., a married person not being alone with a person of the opposite sex). The only male friend I had in my single days who was most certainly platonic was one from a different culture who had committed himself to trust his parents to arrange his marriage. And as we are now both married, we all interact in the context of two couples instead of as individuals.

    • Tristi makes a good point. We’ve all been in situations where we can see two people (one who is married to someone else) excuse their inappropriateness with “he’s like a brother”. We all can see the damage plummeting towards them like a twister. But on the other hand, Paul instructs Timothy to treat younger women as sisters. In an attempt for purity, I wonder if we have forgotten the bigger picture of family and what appropriate relationships with the opposite sex look like. If I treat every male as a sexual temptation instead of my brother, that will produce a less than desirable outcome. Keep the boundaries, lose the weirdness…

      • Good thoughts, Amber: “Keep the boundaries, lose the weirdness…” So hard to figure out how to have boundaries but not destroy good things in legalism. I think one way to go at this is to feel the freedom to talk with our brothers in the faith in a group context but not through private messages or being alone together in any way. This safeguards against inside jokes and other intimate bonds forming solely between two individuals as shared in the goodwomenproject I linked to in a comment above.

  4. REFLECTION QUESTION #4: “One way of rediscovering the double-sunrise is to duplicate some of its circumstances…. the original relationship can sometimes be refound by having a vacation alone together” (62). What things have you done in your marriage to duplicate the circumstances of the early stages of your love?

    • We try to still “date.” it’s a ton more difficult 16 years later. And often has to be scheduled to make it happen. Reading together like we did initially is another one for us that is bonding. The getaways are so important whenever and wherever. Just make it happen. We do feel like sweethearts again when we do this.

      • I love this idea of reading together. I’ve been reading “Surprised by Joy” aloud right before bed some nights this summer. It’s one of my favorite things to do with my husband, part of my dream life…and literally part of Craig’s dream life as he falls asleep to the sound of my voice. ;)

    • We just took advantage of a family wedding a few hours away to escape without the kids and get away. The wedding was short and the rest of the time was ours alone. I cannot tell you how much life those moments give to our marriage. Just to be away from the noise and responsibilities is freeing to love again.

    • An older couple told us to invest every year in our marriage so we get away for a couple long weekends a year. As we have gotten older it has been tempting to use that money for practical things. And it is wearying prepping, packing, and unpacking. But every time I am glad and have needed it more than I know. Also serving together is important, more so than the weekends off. I can tell if we miss some of our service (to others who can’t pay us back). We get short with each other because we are growing selfish and inward focused instead of being a team.

    • Speaking of “early stages” of love, here’s how AML felt about Charles before and immediately after meeting him: “Anne had moaned about having to meet Charles. ‘All this public hero-stuff breaking into our family party,’ she complained in her diary. How could ‘Lindy’ – the ‘baseball player type…not at all intellectual and not of my world at all’ possibly fit into her scholarly family? Yet that same evening when she first saw him, her heart raced…

      When the Morrows threw a Christmas Eve dinner party…both Charles and Anne seemed befuddled: while looking for their place cards at a table festooned with poinsettias and candles, they bumped into each other, blushing and stammering apologies. After dinner Anne danced to Spanish music and a Virginia reel, whirling around with a red carnation in her hair…until she saw Charles eyeing her. Embarrassed, she pulled the carnation out of her hair” (Winters, 2006, pp. 45-46).

      Days later, she took her first flight. With Charles and her butterflies. She claims she fell in love with flying and the pilot!

      • This also goes along with the banyan tree post based on chapter 6, how each of their individual interests showed a wider sky to the other. I absolutely love the story telling here and the fun of venturing out of AML’s writing voice. Her personality comes through in such a neat way in the dancing story.

  5. REFLECTION QUESTION #5: On page 62, the author again describes the complications of family life: “How the table at home has grown! And how distracting it is, with four or five children, a telephone ringing in the hall, two or three school buses to catch…. How all this separates one from one’s husband and clogs up the pure relationship.” Do you agree that the activities of family life clog up the marriage relationship? What ideas do you have for how a couple can cultivate their love in the midst of chaos when they can’t get away alone?

      • Ha! Yes. Teamwork in parenting can definitely be a bonding experience as long as we’re not deflecting any frustrations with the kids onto our spouse. Not that I’ve ever done that. ;)

    • All too often I see women embracing motherhood at the expense of their marriage. I am so grateful for the early advice and availability of our local parents babysitting services so we knew keeping our love alive was one of the greatest things we could do for our kids. I wish I could convince some friends that while getting away alone to fill your soul is good, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t giving your marriage the same opportunity.

    • Still find a way to get away alone!

      My husband and I have been offering a 3 hour Parents’ Night Out on a Friday night once a month at our Quaker Meeting House. One set of parents always has supper and then goes shopping at Target. Another single mom goes for a run.

      Nomatter what they do, they always come back much happier and settled after a short time away.

  6. REFLECTION QUESTION #6: “And if we were able to put into practice this belief and spend more time with each child alone–would he not only gain in security and strength, but also learn an important first lesson in his adult relationship? We all wish to be loved alone” (63). What benefits could you foresee from making this a priority in your parenting? What ideas do you have for spending time with each child alone?

    • Oh I would love more one on one time. It’s a strive for making this intentional and perhaps scheduling dates with the kids for this special alone time. We try. Doesn’t always go as planned. We try to find little ways to have that quality time more often. Different by age sometimes. But always make it a priority to take a child with me (or hubby) when running out to do whatever errand, project outside, etc.

      • If you’ve ever read my Grace in the Grocery post (http://messageinamasonjar.com/2012/01/11/grace-in-the-grocery/) you’d understand that I only very rarely take the kids to the grocery store by myself. But a few weeks, I took a chance and took my firstborn alone…and he was an ANGEL. We were both giddy by the end, actually having FUN grocery shopping. Unheard of around here. That was such a clear picture to me of what a gift one-on-one time is for a child and how it can put the magic back into the parent-child relationship.

    • Oh, did I forget to mention grocery shopping with the kids is taboo for us? It’s an only-as-needed last resort option type of thing. I coulld hyperventilate at the mere thought.

    • Parenting only one child in a moment allows me to feel not only like a capable mom – but a good one at that. Rod used to take the girls out individually for their birthdays. Sadly, that stopped. I’ve tales about taking them individually to musicals for their birthday celebrations as they get older bcuz friends do that with their daughter and I think we’d love it!

    • “The pure relationship is limited, in space and in time. In it’s essence, it implies exclusion. It excludes the rest of life, relationships, other sides of personality, other responsibilities, other possibilities in the future. It excludes growth.”
      I’ve seen many people strive for exclusivity in their friendships. It almost always ends with pain. This quote stood out to me bcuz of it. Why do we look so hard for affirmation from others? When we look for it in God alone, we are able to embrace quality relationships of the best quality together.

    • Darcy, I found it interesting that AML had her own set of cold feet about marrying Charles.

      “‘I went through such agony of indecision before I married Charles…that sometimes I think I Iearned everything there was to learn in those months.’ She realized the marriage could be fraught with problems because of their diverse backgrounds and different outlooks on life…In what she later described as ‘weariness and anger’ she snapped to her mother, ‘I wish the man had never crossed my horizon!’ … Anne was not only tired…she was ‘afraid of it and afraid of life’” (Winters, 2006, p. 56).

      You married the one you trusted. Of course AML trusted Charles…goodness know she had to if she let him fly her to and fro during their short engagement. But the two shared few common interests beyond flight.

      “After much deliberation, Anne decided to discard the “nice comfortable box”…Putting aside a rational approach to marriage, she determined to marry Charles because he was ‘real life, like pure sunshine or pure fire’” (Winters, 2006, p. 56).

      A dear friend once told me that a good way to know something “for sure” was when my head and heart were in agreement. It sounds like that was the case with Craig after this important conversation with F…but not the case with AML’s Charles. AML, the pensive scholar, threw out head knowledge to marry a hero…Risky?

      • I needed Fouad to tell me it was okay to think rationally and to help me do so. The talk of the girls with the butterflies made me feel there was something wrong with me or my relationship if I didn’t feel that all the time. Plus, some of my fear was just plain fear of commitment that had always plagued me. Craig outlasted my fear. :)

        On another note, I can see how the idea of Charles being “real life, like pure sunshine or pure fire” would attract her even if she didn’t at first think they were well suited to one another…maybe she felt she needed someone to lead her out of her more calm existence.

  7. I think I need a beach vacation so I can read this book. :)

    It’s touching to hear the story of your struggle with your feelings. Marriage is a big decision and not to be entered lightly. I thank God for bringing a wonderful husband into your life and for the beautiful children that have come from that union.

    Butterflies are pretty, but their lives are very short. Rocks are much more solid and trustworthy. (Craig good.)

    • You could read it in a day. :) Thank you for all of your encouragement, even as I waded in the murky waters of these words the other day. It’s good to be on the other side of this and to be married to such an unshakeable man. I love your line about the butterflies and rocks. Great contrast.

  8. ’twas a good post, friend. Little did we know when picking out husbands that we really needed someone to help us to keep our heads above water. And that they ended up fun too was a bonus.

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