Everything has changed, and that by you alone, remember. You were nothing to me once, and I was contented; you are now nothing to me again, and O my soul, how different the second nothing is from the first! Would to God you had never taken me up, since it was only to throw me down!Far from the Madding Crowd p. 178
The nothing of ignorance vs. the nothing of loss. What a great chasm between the two! As a family we’ve talked more than once of how different life would have been had I not taken a job in North Carolina—the people we wouldn’t know, the relationships we wouldn’t have, the experiences and joys and sorrows that would not be ours. Yet the ache we might conjure up thinking about what would not be (an imagined loss), would have been no ache at all. For we would not have known what we know now. It would not be loss but ignorance.
And this is the rub with Boldwood. He didn’t know he was missing something; thus, he was content. He now knows he has lost, and he is heartbroken. And pity springs up in us. Now, certainly, Boldwood has his own faults; he is responsible for his own actions and behaviors. He is not the master of his passions as he should be even if he has been poorly handled. Yet Bathsheba has treated an image bearer lightly, flippantly even.
And so what of us? How do we treat fellow image bearers—not just in matters of romantic love, but in matters of our words in every day relationships? In matters that create loss? Do we speak one thing, knowing we have no real intention of following through? Do we draw people toward a goal or purpose and then abandon the scheme ourselves? Do we overpromise and under deliver? Let us think about our fellow image bearers as we interact with them for flippancy in relationships is not a fruit of the Spirit.