I’m a hopeless romantic.
This is a truth set on several factors; not the least of which being that my concept of love was built on magical stories full of fairies and masculine men who articulated their feelings. As a little girl I believed anything was possible. Didn’t we all? If I dreamed it, it would happen. And I believed with my whole heart that one day my prince would come. In the expanse of 28 years of unrealistic expectations, awkward dates and broken hopes, I have realized: that prince does not exist.
That is to say, the one in my head doesn’t exist.
And let me tell you, he’s a hard one to get over.
Every guy I’ve ever gone out with has stood in comparison to him. Every chick flick I’ve ever allowed myself to suspend the unreality of has fed the possibility that he’s out there. Any crush I’ve ever fallen for from a distance has at some point been him (it always made it convenient that we never spoke to burst that bubble).
I loved him. You would have loved him too; because it’s easy to love someone who doesn’t exist.
It’s not complicated to love someone who can’t let you down (except, of course, for that whole tricky business of, you know… not ever being there).
The world is saturated with messages of the existence of our “one true love,” and this idea has been immortalized in more than just Princess Bride (though I won’t argue that it has never been done better elsewhere). I could list dozens of names that you might instinctively link to their infamous better half. The man/woman they were made for, destined to complete and co-author their happily ever after.
And yet, have you ever noticed? We never get the full story.
The curtain falls on Romeo and Juliet’s lives and story simultaneously. ‘The End’ is scrawled out on screen after the Disney princess kisses her prince. Jack drowns. Matthew dies. Even Lizzy and Darcy ride off into the sunset after the wedding. We never hear about just what “happily ever after” is.
That’s because our world romanticizes romance. We love to love it! Seeking our “better half” that will inexplicably complete us is the name of the game. And the love stories we love are the craziest ones, aren’t they? The ones that defeat all odds because it’s right, it’s true, it’s meant to be. Compatibility is an allusive term because attraction, chemistry and infatuation all run together. Yet they’re all referred to as “love.” And our world idolizes this “love” as a solution.
It’s when the rubber meets the road that we lose excitement. Wait, so we have to work at relationships? Where’s the fun in that?
My pastor made the point a few weeks ago that there are no love stories written for marriages; because that’s when it gets hard. We get enough of that in real-life, don’t we? The divorce rates and horrific break-ups of people who mistook their partner as “the one” but must have been wrong because “just aren’t in love (read: infatuated) with each other anymore.” And so we’re left with an eagerness to buy into this idea that sells millions every year.
I’m not just talking to people who struggle with emotions in relationships either. Are there any singles in the house? How easy is it for singles to feel rejected and even worthless because we don’t have someone? Someone isn’t ‘choosing you’ to make you feel a sense of worth. Our entire lives we’ve been told–and parroted back–that we know no one person will ever complete us; but I, for one, have had a hard time truly believing it. It’s too easy to believe otherwise when so many people enter into relationships to finally “feel complete” and “come alive”… and blow up your newsfeed with just how complete and alive they feel; until that person lets them down.
But can I tell you something?
In and of itself, that’s not love.
God is love.
It’s not a cliché. He IS love, He defined love, He is the only source of worth. You know that holiday we just celebrated a few days ago? It’s not about dyed eggs and chocolate bunnies. It’s about the single most powerful, impacting, genuine expression of love that you or I could ever know. Not the desperate suicide of a pair of teenagers drunk on unbridled emotion, but the willing persecution of the Son of God who knew you, loved you, and paid the ultimate price to show you how much. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” -John 15:13
God loved—and loves—us with a self-less love; and tells us to do the same. That means forfeiting the beautiful mirages of love for the only one that’s true. The only love that’s worth it; that’s worth you.
I’m not gonna lie, I still dream about my prince. But at least now I know that the One I’m really waiting on has promised to come one day. And He hasn’t let me down yet.