It was very difficult to make this blog post not cliche because we live in a culture that craves “cliche things made to be unique ideas.”
Secondly, I will also say this is somewhat of a difficult post to write because I have never seriously dated someone before.
I think because of the society we’ve grown up in, we all have very skewed ideas of what “love” is supposed to look like. We have constructed ideas of one-night stands and not being able to “define relationships” and being lackadaisical about the dating world and viewing the “success” of love as a perfect family and husband & then that’s just the end. Christian girls grow up thinking that their goal in life is to be married. Once you find the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with, then that’s it. Boom. Might as well just die now. And if you weren’t specifically told that, then I know you had something like that rooted in the back of your mind.
Some of us see love as the perfect family: 2.5 kids, 2 vacations a year, one to Disney World, family dinners with prayer beforehand, a dog or a cat, golden children, perfect marriage, minimal arguments, home-cooked meals, wedding rings, a little bit of Bible reading to hold the family together like glue. Love is not what’s on the outside. Love is not the superficiality of a family.
I did a little survey with a few close friends, and I just asked them what the first word was that came to mind when they heard the word “love.” Communication. Selfless. Sacrifice. Hate. The color red. Family. Service. Cuddly. Warm.
(And we love impossible love stories. Watch this video about this couple if you’re searching for some happy, sappy, love tears)
Recently, I had a friend get me addicted to Scandal, an ABC show. Downright ADDICTED, I tell you. When we can fit it into a conversation, we do. We love the tension of the president and the mistress when they’re in a room together. We love the way we root for the mistress, not the pregnant wife. We love the way he calls her on a secret line every single night, only to get a few words in. Gosh, Olivia Pope & Fitz. We love all of the scandal & “juiciness” of the show, for lack of a better word. It is dripping in what we would consider “love” because of all the feels surrounding every character. *Cough cough lust* And I know this, but I am still so enthralled with the risk and the tension and the scandal. Love is not all of these things. Love is not having affairs and being the person on the side and lusting after each other.
We crave risk & tension & secrecy. We crave the adrenaline rushes in real life situations like these. But who the hell grows up thinking: I am definitely going to find my soul mate after a one-night hook-up where he’ll magically come chasing back after me or I know he’s in a relationship, but the underdog always wins & I am the underdog? No no no.
Your person will pursue you because you have been adopted & chosen by the God of the universe, and that is what you deserve. That is what you are worthy of. I’m not saying this is what God has specifically promised you because, let’s face it, some of us won’t get married & that is okay.
What He has promised you though:
- He is unchanging. (Malachi 3:6)
- The intentions of His heart will remain steadfast forever. (Psalm 33:11)
- He chose you to be adopted into His family BEFORE creation. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
- He has given us a new heart & put His Spirit inside of us. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
- He gives His Spirit without measure. (John 3:34)
- He is working in your life through the desires of your heart. (Philippians 2:13)
- He will provide everything you need to do His will. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
- When you are weak, His Spirit will be strong in you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
- If you search for Him, you will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)
- He will not let you be tested beyond what you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Our God is a God of love. There is no deceit in Him. He has no ulterior motives. He is upfront & just & righteous. Secrets are not a thing to Him. He loves you with an everlasting & steadfast love. He is slow to anger & abounding in grace & new mercies. And I know I say this a lot, but it’s just so mind-blowing to me: new mercies every morning. That would be like you and me waking up every morning, even though someone had ticked us off the day before, and saying, “Alright, forgiven. Brand new day. No anger or grudges. Let’s start fresh. Clean slate.” And I know how difficult that is for me to do, but imagine it without ANY leftover anger. It’s hard for us to do that one time, but our God does it EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING.
We don’t love people like that though. I always talk about striving, and here is one of my biggest ones lately: striving to love people well. If that is the only thing in life I am known for when I am lying on my deathbed, I will know that I have lived life well. I will be completely satisfied.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” // 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 ESV
And this Sunday is the advent Sunday for love (fitting, right?). His love is the light of men. Secrecy & lust, those things are dark. And God called us to be children of the light, and light illuminates darkness. It overpowers darkness. This is love. Love is patient & kind & rejoices with TRUTH & bears all things & believes all things & endures all things & never ends.
And Jesus loves us well. His love is unchanging & all-encompassing & never-ending & steadfast & pure & just & holy & good. God is so good. God is love.
What I have learned in my 18 & a half years on this earth: earthly love is messy & hard & beautiful & chaotic & wonderful. That is what I know to be true. And I’m not saying that earthly love won’t hurt because it will. It will be some of the most painful stuff you ever get yourself into, or so I’ve heard. You will hurt for that person when they hurt. And you will hurt because you can’t want more for them than they want for themselves. And you will hurt because you can’t make decisions for them. But this is how we know what love is. Love from God doesn’t hurt. Love, in the most pure & holy form, is steadfast & graceful & overflowing. Love from God is not painful. Love from God is freeing. And He gave freedom to us for free.
And I’m not one to get all lovey-dovey or mushy-gushy when it comes to this whole love thing. I mean, I’ll give the occasional coo at identical baby twins giggling at each other or get sort of sappy at engagement pictures (because I just love love). Our earthly love & love from our Father may be incredibly different nowadays, but it certainly has its similarities. Of course we fall short, but we look to Him to know how to love. That is what is important. We must try to love like He has loved us.
And let’s be honest: at the end of the day, we want someone worth walking down the aisle to, we want someone to spend the rest of our lives with, we want someone that will dance around the kitchen with us & drink coffee with us & kiss under Christmas lights & laugh & cry & smile with us. We want intellectual car & dinner conversations. We want someone who doesn’t care how horribly we sing. We want someone that we find joy in being with. We want someone who shares the same love of the Father with us. We want someone else who wants to help us & teach us to love well. We want someone who will draw us closer to God because that is the most important relationship we will ever have: the one where we fall madly & deeply in love with our Heavenly Father.