Some time ago, I wrote a blog on being a hopeful romantic…instead of being a hopeless one. I re-read it this morning with some surprise at how similar my situation, and my opinions are. My core group has pretty much all paired off. That’s not a complaint, merely an observation. Sure, I wish I was done with the dating scene, but that is (probably) largely a function of the choices I’ve made along the way. And let me tell you, some of those choices were too easy…and some were too hard. I’ve broken hearts and experienced heartbreak. It’s not fun, or easy, or pretty to go through either side of that. I continually ask myself why I put me into situations where we end up in pieces. What do you learn by breaking hearts? What do you accomplish, besides pain and torment? What do you teach yourself or your partner?
The hopeful romantic in me yearns for the one, for the man I can wake up to from now until forever. The man I can pour out my love to, because I have so much I want to give. Years ago I had a friend tell me that he just wanted to find the one to love, because he has an ache inside him to shower her with the love he has, the love he has been given. It took me a while to understand that, but I get it now.
I’m not looking for someone to treat me like a queen…although that is nice. I’m not looking for someone to take care of me…I can take care of myself–says the fiercely independent woman. I’m not looking for someone so that I am a “typical member of society”…I’ve never been “typical”, and probably never will.
I’m looking for someone I can love; I’m not talking about the rosy-colored feelings, I’m talking about the action verb. I long to be there for someone, to be there to listen to their opinions, to banter, to minister to, to adventure with. I long for someone I can show just how valuable the are, and how important they are in this great wide world.
You know, one of my favorite things about Jesus’s life is his constant love for those around him. His mercy, compassion, and love for those he came in contact with is something I strive for daily. I fail, often, and I am sometimes blinded by those same characteristics. But, nonetheless, a marriage (by some world-views’ standards) is modeled after the way He loved his people. Ephesians 5:21-33 gives pretty detailed instructions on how married folks should treat each other. She is asked to submit to him (we’ll hold feminism off for another time, I’ve got other points to make here), trusting that he is leading her as he should, in what is right and pure. He is asked to love her as Christ loved his people. Let’s be honest: this is a sacrificial love, Christ died for his people.
But just after, it says he is to present her holy and blameless. That’s big. That’s a lot of respect for her. He is to push her to be right, and strive for perfection, just as I believe she is to push him. He is to respect her body, her mind, her spirit. He is to keep her safe and whole: blameless in the eyes of the World and God.
I think that sometimes I get so lost in building others up, I forget that I am allowed to expect others to build me up. Did not God create us all to minister to one another? To build each other up? It is a requirement for me to give all to minister to someone I love? Well, not exactly. I can give whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…but that does not include things like, my integrity, my body, my sense of self, my moral code…you get the picture. In dating, there is a line. A line, that in the thick of things, is hard to see, and easy to cross. Particularly when you desire so much to share your love, and when you see the beauty in someone. I get lost in making sure people I love know they are loved, valued, and respected for who they are: sometimes I forget to see if I am also respected, loved, and valued for who I am–and pushed to be a better, right-er version of myself.
This. This is the hard part. I confess that often, I have died to myself too much: not necessarily for Christ, but for others.
That is not the point…
It’s taken me a long time to understand the difference. In fact, I’m not sure I understood it until I just wrote it. Christ died for us so that we might live with the hope of tomorrow, the hope of being redeemed for what we have done-or inevitably will do-that is apart from His will. Christ did not die so that we who follow Him continue to die for others. He did that. We’re covered. To die to self is to die to the carnal self, not to give up yourself to people, but to give up yourself to God. For His perfect purposes, not for peoples’ imperfect ones.
The realist in me sort of gets this, but struggles with how to show love without giving up myself entirely. What’s the point? Clearly I’ve failed at this many times. Maybe I should just keep that big ole heart to myself. Maybe it’s just easier to be a friend, and to stay out of that whole love thing. Get a dog. Drive my dog and myself into the sunset and live alone, somewhere, out of my truck. If I just stick with that, I can’t hurt anyone else by getting in too deep only to realize it’s not the forever kind of relationship. I can’t hurt myself by spreading myself too thin, giving up myself to prove…to prove what? That I have love? *Gibbs slap* That’s not the kind of love I’m supposed to be proving.
Then, what? What kind of love am I to be proving?
I am reminded of my parents. They are two of the most loving people I know. They are kind, merciful, compassionate, gracious, forbearing, and quick to forgive (I imagine those last two qualities are what makes them such stellar parents…especially with two headstrong, free-spirited children). But, when the time is right, they do not hesitate to tell me when I am wrong, when I am making mistakes, when I doing things outside of what they know I believe is right and true. They love me enough to be merciful toward my faults…but they love me enough to expect better of me. To expect me to always be seeking the truth, the right, the correct way.
That is a truer love than a blind one. That is a truer love than one that accepts normalcy without expectations of perseverance, dignity, self preservation, and truth seeking. It is a love not only of your character, but of your soul: a love that longs to see the soul be redeemed, cleansed, and perfected.
Maybe one day I’ll figure it out, by the grace of God.
Maybe one day, I’ll be where they are, able to give not a full love, but a true love.
In the mean time, I’m not ready, yet. In the mean time, I’ll keep my nose in the Book, feet on the ground…and arms out to those with whom I come into contact.
I might not be ready for the one, but I in the meantime, I can give a little bit of the love, the compassion of Christ to everyone.