i've had several interesting conversations this week talking about romance, love, whathaveyou. top it all off with a little chick-flick i got stuck watching at my dad's house tonight and here you go--a lot of thoughts to run through.
(although it's not the direct point of this post, i still believe what i heard back in high school that our so called "chick-flicks" or romantic comedies are generally what you could call "girl p*rn" (don't want a google hit there). i contest that they are no less unrealistic and perhaps just as damaging to the mindset of what love is and how relationships happen. they are just far more accepted and less scrutinized. its roots are in something good, but it's perverted--just like p*rn and sexuality. judge for yourself.)
so these conversations. well, no--let's start with the movie. runaway bride. hadn't seen it before. here's your movie: girl runs away at every wedding because she doesn't really know herself, after running away from her dream guy she finally realizes this, "finds herself" (figures out how she likes her eggs), goes back to him and they are married. sorry for the spoiler but you probably could have guessed it from the beginning. the main premise of the movie is delivered by the wedding officiant at the end: "may your individuality strengthen your love."
first of all, it's not a terrible point. you do need to know yourself and not absorb your entirety from the other person. that's the good message in a sense. and of course it being the type of movie it is, after the mistake all is made right and they end up together--naturally. just like life. and then the end of the movie seems to undermine its own point by the uber-cheesy "you are the only one for me i have to have you or i'll regret it for the rest of my life" line. we'll come back to the romance point.
does individuality strengthen love? yeah i think it does in a way. or perhaps a better word would be "self-awareness" or self-health." yeah i know that's two words both hyphenated. deal with it. or maybe a better way to put it is that you must have more to your life than just living for the other person. the biggest idols of our day are wedding rings. what more do we consistently put ahead of God in so much of the way we live? not that marriage is a bad thing of course or that i don't want it--just that we idolize our spouses i think. or our significant other if it gets that serious. the movie says "individuality" because that is our other god. if we hold that too high we won't be willing to follow where God leads us, down the path of self-denial and loss of ourselves. and then of course it doesn't work in relationships either, because we will not love selflessly. only if its held to high though. we must have our own identity--but it is that of a servant of love, giving to God and one another. yeah?
so what's the deal with romance? even if we have this sort of healthy balance and are in a good place personally--which no one really is of course, the story doesn't fall together like these movies. no, romance isn't all it's cracked up to be. this isn't some jaded cynic speaking. i am a romantic at heart, which is probably why i've had to wrestle with all this so much. i've driven 1,000 miles in a day for a girl. and less as well--on whims or dreams or God's direction or fanciful illusions. i've kissed a girl on top of a mountain. i've done my fair share of fighting, trying to play the knight in shining armor. and i think what i've learned is that it's never enough. it just isn't. that's not what real romance and love is.
sure if you have that real romance and love than all the romantic crap can seem nice and warm and good. but it isn't what makes the stuff. romance is such that it has become based on an illusion or idea of what someone is or how something should be. these ideas come from all the movies and stories and music largely. we "fall in love" with a great idea of what something could be. or a grand gesture that touches some sort of ancient chivalry or heroism that creates false understanding of who that person really is, because he or she is acting out of that stereotype as well. sure it often can at least start with a true interaction with a person. sometimes. but it's all a game called romance. and we have been trained how to play it. it's probably that the greater the degree of "romance" the less we truly know the other person for who they really are. but we expect the romance so much that we would not accept one outside of these pretenses, even if that is a more genuine representation of who they are. no, it's better to be deceived and find out who a person really is 2 or 3 years into marriage. then have a 50/50 chance of how things will turn out. sound about right?
ok maybe i do sound jaded a little. i really wrestle with this stuff though. i don't want to be cynical. i want to be married and have a family and i want it to be a blessing and a joy. i know it would be tough of course--and there's a lot that we do wrong. and it's not about learning how to avoid the mistakes as much as it is having the grace to live through them. i've learned that. but i don't want to play this game. and i don't want the false intimacy that comes when someone else realizes they're playing this game after much investment has already been made.
but girls help me out here. it's like you have to have that "romance." or at least you've been programmed to think that right? a lot of guys too. still me in so many ways. isn't this cultural in a lot of ways though? it's a western society thing. i won't get into all that because who cares--it is how it is and it won't change. i heard that a ugandan bishop said that for marriage you should just find someone who shares the same passion for serving God and become partners in that with one another. that sounds pretty simple. but that just won't work in our culture. we're too programmed already. i wouldn't do that i don't think. not just that alone.
i'm just done with playing the game. forget expensive romantic dinners and big gestures and trying to win someone over or all that. it's not worth the energy. it consumes our lives when we're in the midst of it. it is an idol. so forget all the dressings. people too much want the dressings more than they want the meat. they want marriage and the great romance more than they want a specific person. the "one" is some magical/mystical entity that will be reveled through all the romantic situations--not so much the qualities or core/heart of a person that is desired. that is secondary. so just be who you are and if someone is drawn to that then at least you really know you are being genuine and that it is actually you they really want--not some performance of playing the game well: clothes, persona, chivalry, etc. it's all so sucked into our society and we are its damned victims. 50% survival rate.
it's kind of like the old school war. they would just stand there taking turns shooting at one another in a line. and you see that now and you gotta think, "man why did they do it that way? so stupid. just asking to get killed. take some cover for crying out loud. your ideals of what's proper and honorable are so messed up." so warfare developed and people realized there's a better way to fight. (ok just accept the metaphor without pointing out that fighting isn't really good in any way--beside the point).
maybe people years from now will look back at our dating and marriages like we look at those soldiers. and they will think that we were so ignorant, so foolish. "but that's just the way it is" they would have said back then. "that's how war is fought."
that would be a great ending. i was going to do that. but it would be too pointed. i don't have a secure enough place on any stance here to leave it that strong. i don't know about all this. a lot of it seems like rambling to me. maybe all this writing will hurt some girl i am dating in the future if i were to be so lucky as to have that happen after this post. ha. maybe i'll look back on all this and shake my head at how foolish and naive i was. me the unmarried man talking about all this like i had some idea of how it all really is. who knows. but i throw all this out there because i know i'm not alone in all this. so we'll see how it hits.