I always imagined a Valentine’s Day on a dark night and walk along the streets with lights and snow – I would have flowers and the chocolates in the heart shaped box that I wrapped in a bow myself. Yet somehow I feel like I first got this idea from something I saw on the side of a popcorn tin, but I’m not sure. I try to be romantic, but what is it in the end? If there is nothing deeper than the gesture, something more substantial and fulfilling, than it is nothing. It’s one thing to dream of giving flowers and stealing a kiss in the frosty night; it is another thing to make a kiss on a frosty night much more.
I woke up this morning to a flood of blog posts on my twitter feed for single women on Valentine’s Day: basically, to not be discouraged or frustrated and to be patient. Today is romance, and romance comes against the walls of our high expectations. It’s easy to blame Disney, but wasn’t it the desire in our hearts that placed it there in the first place? These stories of gallantry and distress go much deeper into history – the core never changed.
They say a man’s greatest need is to feel adequate, which makes his greatest fear inadequacy; likewise, a woman’s greatest need is to feel secure, which means her greatest fear is to feel insecure. When interested, this is where two people support each other the most, and when they are fighting, these are often the first roads to conflict: manipulating both adequacy and security. The response to avoid being hurt is to remain distant, cut losses if needed, and withdraw – the danger is to seek false attention, false security, and false romance.
I spent some time away at the beginning of the year to pray and think through some things, and I had been thinking about love and romance, and what it means in the world today. I suppose the concern should be that I would understand my role in it – but it is easy to be drawn into the complaints and arguments and find myself getting irritated. But I want to make a deliberate effort not to complain about things I cannot change, but to be thankful. I checked my twitter feed to find an article CCM artist Meredith Andrews posted on a couples adoption of a little girl from Uganda. This caught my attention.
“Fight for her. In a particularly dark and desperate moment those words came to me. “That’s the point. You are suppose to fight for her and never give up, because I fought for you and I didn’t stop until I had you as my own. I fight for my church. I fight for my bride. I fight for my children, and I will never stop. You will fight for her, because I have fought for you.” He fought for me. He pursued me. And he never stopped until He had me.
Honestly, I wrote this all on/for Valentine’s Day, to be the second installment the previous post, but I felt it missing something so I held it back (obviously, overshooting Valentine’s Day by a much). Two weeks ago I was listening to a pastor from Brazil speak on love as suffering – in the end, Christ came to do two essential things: serve and suffer, and if I am to love as Christ loved, than I am to approach love as the joy of service and suffering. Just as “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), so love is to lose as it is the expression of denial for the benefit of another; yet in the loss is gain and contentment: a paradox.
It’s easy to accept that the love of Christ is what brought Him to the cross, but wasn’t it the love for us that brought Him to this Earth? He loved the church not only that He died to redeem her (Ephesians 5:25-26), but that He lived to understand, and lives to intercede (1 John 2:1). When Jesus met someone, He always met them where they were and communicated how it most impacted them. When He healed the deaf-mute, He took him away from the crowds as this man had probably been a spectacle of mockery his entire life, and then Jesus essentially communicates healing through sign language. In the same, when Jesus came to Bethany at the grave of Lazarus, He responds to Martha’s question with a conversation, but when Mary asked an identical question, He weeps with her (John 11:21-35).
The process of our life is not the replication, but the reflection of this love. It’s easy to brush over 1 Corinthians 13 when love is called patient, enduring, and kind, without understanding that Paul isn’t implying that we can be these things, but to push us back to humility. We cannot love like Christ loved without a heart that seeks Him: to gain we must lose, to lose we must sacrifice, to love we must put others before our own needs. This gets deeper when we are called to “do things as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23); I no longer give to gain, but to worship; I worship not because God needs it, but because I do. I love because I need love, but I learn genuine care from Him.
If you were looking for the specifics of what this means… I haven’t the faintest idea. My mother told me long ago that a man can only fight for the heart of a woman that has chosen him, and I think that is a good place to start. There is so much deception in this world that only honesty can come to the truth, and in the truth to find mutual reaching. But this is what makes the suffering of love its risk. We can give everything we are, but there is no assurance things will remain. If we back away at this challenge, it isn’t love that motivates us; this is probably what Paul was getting at with the Corinthians. I think this is why the sacrifice of Christ is given as a model for men, because He gives regardless. He doesn’t tire. He doesn’t give up. He doesn’t stop loving me. When I am tempted to limit myself, I come back to this love: surrender.
To the ladies – I don’t want to give much instruction because I am only here to work through my own issues and I would prefer advice for women to come from a woman, which is why I typically write to men or people in general; however, I found this to be worth the read. I’ll just leave it at that for now.
We’ve been born into the mindset of the most entitled and spoiled generation in the history of forever. We often feel we should receive and never give, and if giving, what we receive should be equal if not more, and that possessions and relationships exist in our life to manipulated. These expectations of what we feel we deserve are exactly what often inhibits us from receiving the gifts God would have us, though I speak generally. Our expectations must first be exhausted. Our patience must be exceeded. Until we come to this point of setting aside our desires we will fail over and over to see what true desire looks like.
“I realize that a great deal of my consternation has been rooted in arrogance. I complain to Jesus: ‘okay, You’re the eternal Son of God, living for all eternity, You created the universe, but why would You know any better than I do how my life should be going?’ […] We’re not God, but we have such delusions of grandeur that our self-righteousness and arrogance sometimes have to be knocked out of our heart by God’s delays. […] The answer is to trust Jesus.” – Tim Keller, King’s Cross
As any aspect of literacy, television literacy refers to the ability to understand televised events and their impact of individual perception; a child’s literacy level is the measure of the distinctiveness the child perceives between televised events and the actual application of real life. This is basically the line drawn between what happens on television and what happens in real life and how the two are not always the same. This is specifically important in regards to violence and aggression, and that the child is able to understand what is being used in the televised show is not intended to be replicated in daily life.
The debate centers on the child’s responsiveness to perception and antegrade cognitive scripts. This makes the intentions of the debate much more ambitious then the application, because much of it is centered in assumption then in principle; there is no way to accurately test children on television impact because by the time they become adults, the culture has experienced catalyst enough to render previous data invalid. A real example is any coffeeshop; one may frequent a coffeeshop, but overtime the staff and management will change and it can be argued whether it is the same coffeeshop or not, or if the building is the only constant. But that does not make the discussion a waste of time, it is prudent to be mindful of any action’s perception and likelihood of replication so that prosocial actions can be cultivated and maladaptive traits can decline.
The crux of the debate is not that it focuses on future behavior, but current temperament. This brings the development of a child back into the domain of the parents, not the culture, since the culture cannot focus on the individual value, nor assess the individual needs of the child. The culture debates to find a mean heading, but it is the parents that actually set course of the ship in life: as nautical analogies go. I suppose it can be argued that the tip of the spear in the debate must be less of a debate and more of an assessment of cumulative education experience, because in the end it comes down to advertising and numbers then child health.
There is no value in public discussion if the parents are not willing to moderate their children’s perception. I believe children should be encouraged to develop as they naturally are, but until they are able to stand on their own feet (not literally, that happens around two), they should be instructed and moderated, encouraged and challenged, helped and led by example. To base a child on their assumption that they can rationalize television on their own apart from parental discussion, is to assume youngsters will always make the best choices. I can look at my own life and say without a doubt, they don’t.
There are moments in life when faith hits and weak spot and all of our weakness comes pouring out at once; Caught in a pool of information and emotions that feel so alien and the hope that once felt secure passes through our hands that try and clinch it so tight. Is it that the hope has gone, faded from view and luck has looked the other way? It’s like falling from a train and tumbling through the weeds. The thought of getting back on seems foolish, let alone to where we were? Or are we to assume that where we were is where we should be?
These are moments of reality. Life is messy. We are given hope and instructions with provision, but we must walk through this world, bumping and falling along the way. Yes, we are called to be warriors, but deep inside this armor we are children who have never fully understood ourselves, but we think we do. We fall down and nobody sees that we race home as fast as we can with tears in our eyes. Even the strong fall and even the secure lose hope. I scribbled a quote from Neitzsche: “The strongest have their moments of fatigue”.
I suppose the important thing to do is almost nothing at all. It isn’t to assume that the faded emotions mean that we have lost our way, or that our falling means that we have fallen from grace. God is in control. This never changes. He saw our fall from the beginning of time, from the vantage point of the cross, and He is not caught off guard. Although we assume the wheels of our world grind to a halt, and skid along the path of life, He smiles with the tenderness of a Father who will come to His children and is closest to us when we feel farthest from Him. Like warriors we run against the enemy, and like children, we run to Him when we fall.
We aren’t alone because we feel alone; we are only alone when we reject the fact that He still loves us. The water in the river is just as present at the beginning as it is when it pours over the rocks. He has called the end from the beginning and faith calls us to put our confidence in that. I suppose this is what gave David words to say “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” and “though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
Job fell through pain and came to the point of wishing he could die: no, that he hadn’t even been born, yet he said: “though he slay me, yet will I trust Him”. He came about to say “there is hope for the tree that is cut down because it’s shoots will not fail.” It will rise again. No matter the fall, there is always grace. No matter the heartache, there is healing. No matter the darkness, there is always light. “In the darkest night, men see the stars.” – Emerson
It’s not enough that we quote it, but that we open our hearts to the fact that He is present even when we don’t see Him and ask Him to show Himself as He wants to be revealed, not as we want to see Him. We would be with passion and want all now, but He wants us to experience Him in His time, not ours. Perhaps this is the price of trust; that is being broken, we are being remade into something much more beautiful. If we believe Him, let us also abide this truth in our hearts.
It is only human to fail and hurt. We must never be ashamed. I feel in my life that I am caught in a fog and loneliness and isolation fall. If I tell myself “I am alone”, what is that telling Him? In contrast, I am telling Him that I don’t trust what He has done. This is more to convince myself then anything because many things are mounted against me right now and I know I must stay strong if I want to finish strong and if this house of cards falls completely down, I must already know how I will respond, but I know that this world is no stranger to suffering. He is good and faithful and has been faithful and I must remember that. Our help is on the way. The onyl fear for the future is to forget how He has led in the past.