When was the last time you saw a romantic movie that exemplifies true love? (those with vampires don’t count)
What is true love, anyway? Now I know man, for centuries, has attempted to concretely define L-O-V-E, so I won’t join in my specie’s futility. I’ll change my question, then: What are the evidences of true love? What actions must be undertaken, characteristics be seen, and consequences result when true love truly is at work? Again, these questions I posed can generated hundreds of answers from many different perspectives. For now, I shall focus on a principle interrelated with love: passion.
During Bible class in my senior year of high school, my teacher asked the class to give a word close to passion. My classmates and I answered similarly: “desire,” “dream,” “love.” With my head held high, I thought I fared well in the question and answer portion. But my teacher shook his head. He waited for us to cease fire before he said:
“Passion equals suffering.”
I did not know that. Suffering did not even cross my train of thought. My ignorance was probably to blame, and partly, the world’s distorted take on passion…and love. In many movies, to be “passionately in love” with somebody means that you and your “somebody”–single or married–are having sex at an all time high. Songs promote looking for “love,” or should I say, lust in clubs and parties, then after finding it, head straight to lovemaking. Where did suffering go? It need not go anywhere because it did not exist in the first place. It was pleasure who hogged the spotlight, numbing consciences and guilt because “love is not supposed to hurt.” Well actually there is suffering–suffering painful consequences, that is. STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and broken marriages are some of the devastating consequences of momentary pleasures that were mistaken for “passionate love.”
What did my teacher mean when he said passion equaled suffering? When you are passionate about a sport, hobby, belief, or person, you are willing and committing to brave life’s storms, wildernesses, and mountaintops. When you are passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, you choose Greek yogurt with fruit over a cup of Ben & Jerry’s and momentarily endure the criticisms of your friends who are “living and enjoying life.” There’s always a give and take, a drawing of the line between good and bad, better and best. It’s a line that I’ve been asked to draw today, and at first, I felt more inclined towards the bad. 😐
The command was quite simple, actually: fetch your brother from school. That was the task of our helper, but since she accompanied my grandmother to a shopping spree, I was the only remaining candidate at home to do the deed. Time was two in the afternoon, the weather, not too warm and sunny (in short, masarap matulog [perfect time for sleeping]). In my head, I crossed my arms and shook my head because I did not want to fetch my brother, but instead, wanted to sleep and continue reblogging posts in Tumblr (which I should be forgoing).
As my mind and heart struggled, I pondered on the many, many times I told my brother, “I love you.” Most days were full of glee, humour, and thrill so saying “I love you” was uttered with ease. But how about this time when every inch of your being screams, “I DON’T WANT TO ACT IN LOVE?” “I love you” will fall on deaf ears.
More romantic movies should show scenes of boyfriends and husbands struggling with lust, sexual temptation, or raising their voice in anger towards their female partners. The idea that feelings are the basis of true love should be antiquated. An others-first philosophy should replace the I-deserve-to-be-happy mantra. Pleasure must step down and turn over the microphone to priorities.
Thankfully, by God’s grace, my story did not end with the struggle. As always, God saw me through the struggle (although I complained, and I wish I didn’t). Eventually I obeyed my mother’s orders and fetched my brother from school. On my way to his school, I prayed for the strength and power to love and to “please my brother for his good, leading to edification” (Rom. 15:2). When I arrived in my brother’s school, the struggle ceased and my heart relaxed. I walked on the straight and narrow path once again. 🙂
Love does not automatically come with passion. Both–love and passion–must be decided and acted upon. You can have sex day in and day out and still not show true, passionate love. If we want to love, we must be prepared to be stretched, tested, and burned. That is why I look up to wives who stay by their unfaithful husbands; spouses who care for their bed-ridden other halves; teachers who exercise patience towards unproductive students; pastors who gently care for unlovable flock, and parents who continuously reach out to a prodigal child. They know what true love really means because they live it out every.single.day. They also challenge those of us, including me, who casually say “I love you” to people we see everyday–friends, relatives, and most especially, family–to love passionately. To suffer long. To do what is right, not what feels right.
If ever you’re looking for a movie on true love, I suggest you see this film. His love is the best love you will ever find. And if you seek it, surely you will find. Actually, He will find you. 🙂