Hallmark has it wrong. I know, crazy – Hallmark has it wrong. I mean, come on – girl experiences heartbreak, tries to get back with ex, meets nice boy, girl realizes nice boy likes her, and bam – happily ever after. Even now as I write this, I’m describing the plot of the movie playing in the background and about 250 others that tend to air around Christmas time.
So, in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to hash out my ideas of what real love looks like – which, shockingly, doesn’t quite line up with Hallmark’s happy facade.
Love is not what you think. Love is not happiness. Love can make you happy, sometimes, but it certainly shouldn’t be relied upon as the root of great emotional highs on a consistent basis. Love is work. Love is sacrifice. And Love is what lasts. Love is founded on the basis of trial because true love is proven when it comes out of the fire – not when it’s skipping along the happiness-lined streets.
There’s not room to pursue “happiness” – it’s commitment. Commitment doesn’t stick around if it’s based on happiness – which really isn’t commitment. With commitment, there is hope, joy, peace… – are you starting to recognize this list? The Fruit of the Spirit comes from a solid foundation of real love in every relationship. Instead of pursuing happiness, what if we pursued a deep, meaningful connection? The pursuit of relationship produces joy, unlike the pursuit of happiness which generally just produces frustration and a desire to get the heck out. But instead of turning our attention to the unrelenting frustrations of selfish pursuit, what if we turned to selfless servant-like living?
“Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” Philippians 2:7
If Jesus stooped down to wash the feet of the lowest of the low, why can’t we manage to set down our phones for half a second to make eye contact with someone we claim to love?
I wonder what would happen if we all took a few extra minutes each day to ask how the most important people in our lives would feel most loved.
Loving well is not pursuing your own happiness but laying down your own desires to love someone else well – some days it is really difficult; some days it is wonderfully fulfilling and easy. But all-in-all, there is a calling, a purpose, in loving others selflessly.
Wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, pay for dinner (or cook it for that matter), call the friend, share the word of encouragement…
There’s no end to the way we can love one another well, and that brings me back to where we started – Hallmark’s “ideal” picture of what pursuit and relationship looks like. It’s funny because, generally, as Hallmark movies go, no one has any problems outside of one relationship (or maybe two, if they want to make it a tad more realistic). Have you noticed that we as people carry around a lot, and I mean A LOT, of crap?
And for some reason, there’s an expectation on relationships that the other person will fix it all. That’s quite the savior complex to put on another really screwed up person.
What if instead of expecting the other person to fix us, we just love them? What if instead of expecting the other person to serve us, we just serve them? Some days it will be hard, some days it will be easy, but in the end it will be rewarding. There is so much freedom when we love one another well. And this idea shouldn’t just stop with a significant other – let these principles bleed over into every relationship in your life until people feel like they’re seeing Jesus when they see you.
So, as you and your significant other, best friend, or family snuggle up to watch movies filled with expectations that really could only be fulfilled on screen, maybe get up and make them some hot chocolate. It’s often many little building blocks that create the strongest foundations.
This Christmas season, instead of filling your mind with romantic “ideals”, remember what it’s really about.
“Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
Jesus gave up His throne; I think we can manage to give up our entitlement to imitate our Savior, even if only for a moment at first.