If you had to choose a silver-screen love story, which would be your favorite?
· the fiercely assertive Scarlet and Rhett in Gone with the Wind
· the adventures of summer vacation with Baby and Johnny in Dirty Dancing
· Dorothy and Jerry with their “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” from Jerry Maguire
· the passionately committed Noah and Allie in The Notebook
If you’re like me, you grew up admiring these great loves and fantasized about your own, convinced you’d find the one, have a fairy tale wedding, and live happily ever after. Just like in the movies. Right? Of course!
Well, if you’re like me, you know it didn’t quite go that way. You probably chose poorly between an Ashley and a Rhett. You realized your summer fling should have been just that—a summer romance, not a life-time commitment. And those one-liners were momentary promises never meant to be kept.
I fell in love for the first time at 14. No I didn’t. I had my first crush at 14. He was the hottest thing in junior high, and I was stoked to call him my boyfriend. His name was Raymond. Our young love lasted through the spring of our freshman year then he moved. Boy, was I heartbroken. Not really. I found a new crush my sophomore year.
At 23 I married my high-school sweetheart. Because that is what responsible folks do. They put in the time, effort, and energy to make it work then they marry.
I had my son Jacob at 26. To this day he is the best and only thing I’ve done right. When Jacob was 4, his dad and I divorced.
At 30 I found myself deeply immersed in the dating world. It was like Fast and the Furious meets Sleeping Beauty. I had no clue what I was getting into, but it sure was fun. For a little while.
It was a time filled with new adventures, new faces, and new friends. I was discovering a new me. There were desires and attractions I had never felt before. And of course there was a new guy to go with this new scene and this new me.
Professing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior marked the end of my fast and furious single days. And I was glad. I was tired, worn, and wanting more out of life. I found it in Christ.
By 35 I was remarried. For a while I would say my life was perfect. There was a whole lot of love, a whole lot of laughs, and a whole lot of church. What more could a girl ask for? I had achieved the fairy tale.
By year 39, deceit, confusion, and chaos were suffocating my marriage and my new-found life. The fairy tale turned eerily dark. Year 40 marked a tragic end to the chaos and confusion with criminal charges, a hospital stay, and legal negotiations as the grand finale.
Today I am single, happy, and enjoying life with my 17-year old.
I share all of this with you to say yes, love can spring from heartbreak. If you've been in one failed relationship after another, take a moment to reflect.
· What are you yearning for?
· What is missing?
· What kind of partner are you seeking?
· How do you define love?
· What does love look like in your life?
For years I’ve sat in church and listened to Pastor preach about love. I’ve followed along in my bible. I’ve marked key scriptures. I’ve read and reread verses. I’ve paid close attention to the sermons.
But still when I think about love, what it is and what it isn’t, I realize my life experiences have shaped my definition and understanding of love. Meeting Christ simply put it all into perspective.
I say simply, but it really wasn’t simple.
It was, and has been, a process of reconciling my mind with my heart, my heart with my feelings, my feelings with my actions, and my actions with my choices. I still don’t have it all figured out, but what I am able to do now is recognize right love from wrong love.
Maybe you can relate.
Love from parents
I first learned love from my parents. I learned that it was hugs at bedtime and kisses on skinned knees. It was patience during homework and boundaries set for my own good. It was celebrating victories and accepting consequences. It meant respecting my parents’ authority.
As a youngster, I associated love with feelings. If I received approval from my parents, then they loved me. If I felt safe and secure, then I was loved. If it was a “yes,” I was loved.
What I didn’t fully comprehend was that “no” meant love as well. No never felt good, and it sure didn’t make me feel loved.
It took many years, but as an adult, I’ve come to understand and appreciate the parental love described in the bible.
My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t’ be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights (Proverbs 3:11-12).
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth (Ephesians 6:1-4).
My parents delighted in me; therefore, they disciplined me. They cherished me, so they set boundaries to ensure I would have long life—something every parent wants for her child.
Love from a spouse
As an adult I learned love through marriage. And divorce. Twice. Not a proud record but one charted with moments where love shone bright, burned hot, and fizzled out. I’d like to think that divorce was not a choice I made but something that happened to me—makes it easier on the heart and mind.
Loving a spouse is much different from loving a parent. It’s intimacy and passion. It’s compromise and sacrifice. It’s delighting in your better half. It’s selfish feelings screaming louder than understanding or patience; it’s doubt and fear at times taking the lead. It’s celebration and heartache sometimes all at once.
For years I listened as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 was prayed over brides and grooms but never gave much thought to it.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Well this explains a lot! You see, feelings steered my first marriage, not this biblical love so eloquently described. There was jealousy. We were rude. Demands were made. We irritated one another. There was a record of every wrong doing, every offense. I’d like to think that finding Christ made the second marriage fool-proof, but that divorce is another testimony for another time.
Love from a child
I learned unconditional love when my son was born. Admittedly, I never loved anything outside my family unconditionally. There was always a condition, a standard. But this love—my son, the tiny being that spit up after every feeding, those thin blond curls, that sweet voice, the now 17-year old macho goofball that lights up my whole world--has challenged me, refined me, empowered me, and encouraged me. I am better because of it. I am wiser because of it. It is a love that runs deep and touches every facet of life—every failure, every win, every milestone, every setback.
It is not a feeling.
It is a choice.
It is an act I engage in every moment of every day.
This is a love I got right after so many times of getting it wrong.
Galatians 5:22-23 describes what I’ve learned being Jacob’s mom. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Love from my Savior
Today I understand and embrace the love promised me in the Bible. Though it has required time, study, and trust, it has proven to be a love that cleanses, purifies, and exposes the heart. It restores, rescues, and promotes life. This love cannot be earned or bought or wagered (2 Timothy 1:9).
My Savior’s love is like the John Legend song All of Me—He loves my curves, my edges, my perfect imperfections. He does not impose standards for me to reach; He does not reject me when I mess up. He does not give me the silent treatment, nor does he threaten me when I disappoint him. No, instead he extends grace, mercy, and forgiveness. What a love—patient, kind, enduring, and faithful, just as in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
Professing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is a love I got right. Do you have this love? You can! Choose Christ above all else. You won’t regret it; I promise.