I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about love and relationship. I’m single, and I don’t want to be.
God created me to love. It’s the only thing I do extraordinarily well. When I’m in relationship, it is not at all a challenge to lay down my life for my person. I find joy in putting my person’s needs before mine and I feel as if I’m living my purpose in loving.
I don’t share this with you because I think I’m special, but actually because I bet a lot of you relate. I think God makes us all this way, in varying degrees. I think that’s why romantic love rules our expression in movies, songs, poems, stories, and plays. I think we’re genetically created to be in a relationship, and revel in it. I think it’s part of how we thrive as humans.
BUT, as with any good thing, we have a tendency to take romantic love, and make it EVERYTHING. We turn it into THE THING that makes us feel valuable and relevant and valid. Our relationship status becomes our status, and our hearts and minds become consumed with this lack in our lives. But when we put SOME THING, even a GOOD THING, in place of GOD we set up for failure.
What’s worse, is when we do finally find the “one” we set him/her up for bigger failure. We make love THE THING that makes us whole and we set upon our lover the absurd expectation that he/she can fulfill us. SPOILER ALERT: he/she can’t. So what happens when you have a bad day, or bad week, or bad year and you don’t feel like you’re connecting with your person anymore? All of the sudden he/she is under-performing as your mate. You don’t feel the butterflies you did at the start and he/she is not making you feel like you’re the reason for breathing, and hasn’t done anything special for you in a while – and now you’re losing meaning. You’re losing your sense of validity. You’re not quite attracted the way you used to be (which, by the way, you won’t be) and you’re not sure if you feel quite the way you did when you first got together. Sound familiar?
What if your person, God forbid, dies? What if your person cheats on you and leaves? What if your person “changes” (which, by the way, he/she will)? What if any one of these things happens and your identity were in him/her? What then?
Our inordinate love of love is making us cry. We’re not just crying because our loved one is lost, but also because our identity is lost with him/her. Scary, isn’t it? Love is the world’s ultimate promise of happiness, but what happens when you don’t have it? Or even worse, what happens when you do and you don’t FEEL happy? Even scarier, right?
If love wasn’t king in our culture, I would fear for the career of Taylor Swift. What would there be left to sing about? Love is beautiful and exciting and meaningful and thrilling and life-giving, but it can’t be everything. Your lover can’t complete you, no matter what Jerry Maguire says – and expecting him/her to, is a losing game. But love, real love, is given to us through Christ. He’s the only ONE who can fill the longing you feel for love.
I don’t know what this means for me. I still don’t want to be single. I still think about my to-be lover and pray that my wait would be over. I still want to share life with someone, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But I’m praying also, with everything in me, that I don’t expect my person to fill me; that my identity is rooted in the One who never changes, will never cheat, will never leave, will never falter, will never subside in relentless pursuit of me – that’s a love that will never be shaken, and one that is worth singing about. Somebody call Taylor Swift and let her know. (Love you long time, Taylor.)
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