In last week’s blog I mentioned two lies that the world wants you to believe, but I only got around to talking about one of them. I promised that this week I would talk about the other one. This lie is that true love is a happy ending. Well, it’s not.
I don’t mean to sound cynical about love – I’m a big fan of love. But think about any romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. Are you picturing Hugh Grant? OK, now how does the story go? Boy meets girl, girl rebuffs boy, boy pursues girl, girl gives in and falls in love… blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of these movies. Susie and I even went to Notting Hill in search of the Blue Door (found it, too). But the problem is that these stories perpetuate the lie, because they all end at the beginning.
All of these stories end with the couple finally “getting together,” whether that means getting married or whatever, but after all the conflict in the story, the writers want you to believe that all that is over and now it’s going to be smooth sailing. In the case of Notting Hill, the film ends with the couple married, peacefully sitting on a park bench, as though all their troubles are over.
However, anyone who’s been married will tell you that this is just the beginning – and there will be more conflict, more arguments, more “boy says something stupid to girl” or “girl tries to read boy’s mind and misunderstands his intentions” or “boy briefly looks at another girl and gets busted” or… you get the idea. The need for understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation is really just beginning.
A relationship is not like a house – with a house, you build it, and then when it’s done you live in it. But a relationship is never “done.” You never “arrive” at a point where all the conflict is behind you. In fact, a relationship is more like a tree: it’s either growing or it’s dying.
That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to want a relationship that gives you a sense of security or stability. But the security comes from unconditional love, not from a lack of change. Unconditional love says I will love you if you change, and I will love you if you don’t. But the truth is, staying the same is not really an option. Like I said last week, the world wants you to believe you don’t need to change or grow, and so we may fear change as though it is a loss of something, or some part of ourselves. In reality, we will all change – it’s just a matter of whether we will become more like the people we were created to be, or less like the people we were created to be. In the end, love (like life) is a journey, not a destination.
The truth is, true love is a beginning. And that’s actually good news, because it’s exciting – it’s embarking on a new journey. But real love is also work, because for the relationship to grow, the individuals have to grow – which means we each have to put the other person’s needs ahead of our own.
In Spiritual Blueprint I wrote a paraphrase of I Corinthians 13. I felt that while Paul’s words are great (one might even say… inspired), he puts a lot of what he’s saying in the negative (love is not this, love is not that…). I thought it might be nice to look at it from the positive angle. So my paraphrase goes something like this:
If I can speak eloquently, but use that gift to be hurtful, it is worthless
If I understand human nature and psychology,but use that to manipulate or humiliate, it is worthless
If I am generous toward strangers, but mean to the ones closest to me, I am a hypocrite
If I give so much of myself to things outside the home that there’s nothing left at the end of the day, then all that hard work is for nothing
Love is patient
Love is gentle
Love is trusting, always assuming the best of the other
Love is a servant to the other
Love seeks the best for the other, before the self
Love gives what the other needs, before asserting its own rights
Love always gives the other the benefit of the doubt
Love is forgiving, always willing to forget the mistakes of the past and start again with a clean slate
Love is always truthful
Love sees anything done for the other as a labor of love
Love has a positive attitude and remains optimistic about the future
Love never gives up
When I was a child, I thought everything should be handed to me, and others should do the work for me – I thought love should be easy, and I should be the center of attention
Now that I am an adult, I have to admit that I don’t know everything, I’m not the center of the universe, and love takes work to grow
But at least I know that my efforts will be rewarded, because the love that we build will never die
Thanks for reading my blog!