I might as well say it. I'm addicted to love.
I'm a girl of the 1980s, so yeah, Robert Palmer had it right. I want to be loved as I am, and I want to love others as they are. I suppose we all do. The problem is when we chase love by running after the feeling rather than the essence. That's why a lot of us bounce from relationship to relationship. We want to "feel" love more than choose it.
I remember a discussion with girlfriends' right out of college and the advice was given, "Love when you're ready, not when you're lonely." Another friend, who had been through a few relationships, added, "Debbie, you become who you choose to spend the most time with. Choose wisely. I mean, if I line up all my ex-loves in a row, I can see the flowchart of my mental illness."
In life's journey we all want to be known and loved, and Jesus knows us better than anyone and still loves us. He knows me, my pain, my ache, my disappointments, my shame, anger at myself and the part of my heart that hasn't fully forgiven others. He knows. He is here, waiting to make use of what has happened. He is always on the move. He isn't wasting time, thinking about all the trouble he has with us or how awful we feel about where we are with ourselves and our troubles. God loves us unconditionally.
Jesus chose to love us long before we returned any feelings for him.
Attention feels like love, but real love will not give up on you. Real love is God's love. Feelings are only a small part and come and go. Love is more about making a choice and then sticking with it.
"For better or worse" is declared at weddings, but perhaps, not so much anymore. It's weekly we read about another Hollywood marriage on the skids and then it's over. No more "Old-School / Old Hollywood" style, like Jimmy Stewart and Paul Newman marriages.
Newman was well-known for his devotion to his wife and family. When once asked about infidelity, he famously quipped, "Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?"
Unfortunately, nobody seems content with their cut of meat anymore. We want to shop around and taste all kinds of things and when it doesn't feel right, we move on.
What's the big deal? The big deal is that marriage involves so many others, namely children. I have had both male and female friends leave a marriage due to unfaithfulness. The eventual aftermath to others is so painful, confusing and frustrating. There's no pleasant way to say it, divorce sucks.
The problem is we've become so feeling-oriented and self-focused. The root of what causes divorce is selfishness. We may know better, but because we want to feel better as soon as possible, we chase after being in love rather than being loving.
Hollywood breakups don't surprise any of us, but I was bummed when Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck announced their divorce after their 10th wedding anniversary. I admire her honesty in her interview with Vanity Fair: "It was a real marriage," she revealed. "It wasn't for the cameras. And it was a huge priority for me to stay in it. And that did not work."
Most often we'll hear, "I deserve to be happy," after a relationship breaks, but Jennifer said, "It's not Ben's job to make me happy. The main thing is these kids - and we're completely in line with what we hope for them. Sure, I lost the dream of dancing with my husband at my daughter's wedding. But you should see their faces when he walks through the door. And if you see your kids love someone so purely and wholly, then you're going to be friends with that person."
I applaud them both and I suppose I'm clapping a little longer and louder for Jennifer in all of this because of her transparency. It makes me sad. Not just for Jen and Ben and their children, but for so many of my friends and family who have had this road of brokenness. It's so hard.
Sometimes, no matter how bad you want it or how hard you fight for it, broken things just can't be mended. The only path forward from here is to continue focusing on health and healing, for children and parents, and investing in a safe community.
Derek, a friend who went through a divorce, said, "I would plead with you to find a small group of safe men or women, friends who will not respond with platitudes of morality, but will instead get down and not only join you but stay with you in your s---, in hopes of helping pull you out. Inevitably, they'll need you to join them in theirs someday."
Listen to what Derek is saying here. Your marriage is worth it. Your future is worth it. There is nothing God can't restore or redeem, but our shame and our mistakes make us feel we can never be free or worthy of love again.
Enough with the feelings already. I want you to know this no matter if you're the one searching for love, lost love or ran to what you thought was love. You have to know there is always hope and you're not alone. You may be feeling angry, hurt, lost and alone. Your feelings are valid. But there are others like you who've been it your place and they are now walking a little less crooked, with a little more hope because they know, despite what they feel, things do get better. So listen. I hope you know you're capable and brave and significant even when it feels like you're not. I hope you know that Jesus is someone who is more interested in his love taking root in our hearts than tallying our faults. There is always hope. You are not alone. It will get better.
Know it. Live it. Give it.