With a name like Love InSight, it is only a matter of time before love of the romantic kind comes up in these articles. Anyway, when inquiring from the Google about what other things are out there that use words similar to “Love InSight,” I came across a very interesting insight on love of the romantic variety in our culture today. Before I talk about the article, it’s vital to become familiar with the song “Love Like the Movies” by The Avett Brothers. Give it a whirl before reading on:
Now, I don’t know much about the author of the article that follows and for all I know she could have many predilections which are counter to Christian beliefs. However, the Church takes truth wherever it is found and I think the article below is simply the truth about romantic love and our culture. Though I quote part of it below, the link to the entire article is here: http://marthabeck.com/2009/02/the-truth-about-true-love/
I agree with the things she indicates about our culture’s take on love, and I think we can learn from them. After her quoted text, I will offer some thoughts of my own on the topic. In her article, she highlights the following myths and realities about romance in our culture:
Myth: The right partner will make me happy.
Reality: Your happiness is no one’s business but your own. You have the power to embrace or reject the magic we associate with “being in love” no matter who is around or how they feel about you. Successful love relationships come from happiness not vice versa.
Myth: You need your partner.
Reality: Believing you need your partner turns love into craving and leaves little room for genuine love in which there is no wanting or needing whatsoever. If you think it is romantic to tell your love “I need you” try this: “I choose you and I need nothing at all from you.” This may feel odd but watch your partner relax as the shackles come off.
Myth: You need to find the right mate to be complete.
Reality: You need to be complete to find your mate. If I told you to go find the mate to my favorite shoe but I never show you the shoe, how on earth could you find the mate? The biggest error I see my clients make is looking for completion in another person when what they actually need is a clear picture of the complete self that is already present at their cores. Find the essential self and identifying the mate suddenly becomes possible, even easy. No one is incomplete and if you see yourself as incomplete you will never find your mate.
A Christian Perspective
Before I add some thoughts, I must admit, as much as I prefer action and adventure movies, there is a secret spot in my heart for the love stories found in romantic movies, rom-coms, and Disney movies. In many ways, I am profoundly a product of our culture. Over the course of the years, however, I remember thinking to myself at various times: “Self, I wonder what happens to the characters in those movies after the movie is over.” This question has brought me to the following thoughts on love and romance:
1) I shouldn’t expect that falling in love will happen like it did in the controlled and planned environment of the movie I just watched.
It was 2 hours long, written by someone, directed by another person, and acted out by people who didn’t even really fall in love. Rather, in real life, love takes place at the intersection of two lives that carry much more history than a movie can set up. Moreover, it happens in real life where there are no scripts and there is only one take (and no dress rehearsals). Real life love takes a lot more work than it does in the perfect conditions of the movies.
2) “Falling in love” is just one of many aspects of loving someone.
Ultimately, falling in love won’t be the most important part of your relationship with your spouse. People fall in and out of love. In fact, the term “falling in love” is a bit inaccurate. One does not simply fall in love; on some level it is a choice. In any event, it is not primarily by falling in love and riding the feeling that allows people to stay together in a loving relationship. It is rather choosing to love the other person, admiring their virtues, and growing in virtue together that will ultimately keep you together.
3) The type of love that lasts beyond a two hour movie is eventually a result of using your mind to direct your emotions.
As rational creatures, we are not bound simply to act how we feel. We can make choices based on other things, like the virtue (or lack of virtue) that someone has that would make them a good spouse and parent (or a bad spouse and parent). At some point, this has to actually take precedence over whether or not they are a heartthrob. They won’t look like that forever and the rest of your life and the lives of your children are at stake!
4) It’s not ultimately about what the other person can do for you or make you feel.
It is ultimately about finding someone who is fitting to give your life to. Though the habit can easily escape us, happiness is most profound when we are, not receiving a gift, but being a gift. Jesus is the spouse of the Church and showed us how to be the perfect spouse when he gave his entire life for our good. We should follow his lead for the person we love. If we do it the world’s way, we will depend too much on experiencing something and not enough on truly loving the other person and being a gift to them. When we begin to depend on how another person makes us feel to the point where we lose sight of the quality of person they are, we are starting down the road of the potential disaster of being in love with someone who is not even that good of a person.
5) Fall in love with someone worth giving yourself to completely, not a celebrity.
Love is a gift. We should give it to someone (not multiple people). I am not just talking about sex either. Sex is just one part of the gift of your entire life. Our aim in love is to give who you are completely to the other person. This requires a sufficient knowledge of ourselves and the other person. Too many people are in love with people they don’t even know today. We fall in love with tawdry humans that we have never met: TV stars, singers, athletes, comedians, actors, sports journalists and the like. This kind of falling in love is not to be praised (nor encouraged). It brings baggage and expectations into your real relationships that are completely unfounded in reality. We are worth more than giving our hearts to someone we don’t know (and most likely wouldn’t be a good spouse or parent).
In the end, Jesus has given us a model for true love. As Christians, we are tasked with the responsibility of following him, not the world. We are to give our life away for the sake of our spouse. If we happen to be single, we should not distract ourselves with selfish things to fill the void of our singleness. Instead, we can aim to learn the habit of giving ourselves away in service to others now. In this, when we find someone worth our love, we will already be predisposed to living for others. So even now you can begin to be a self-gift to your future spouse.