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