Monday, June 13, 2005

choosing to love

according to an online dictionary, one of the meanings of seduce is 2 : to lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises

when it comes to love and marriage, i think we as a culture have been seduced. we've believed the fairy tale that love starts with fireworks, followed by an initial conflict that once overcome is followed by happily ever after which is easy and comes in a nice, neat package. when things don't work out that way, disappointment and hurt happen. but rather than work thru and forgive and continue to work thru the conflicts and fight for happily ever after, people simply call "do over", file for divorce, and start the cycle again--waiting for the fireworks.

and sadly, in christian culture, we've simply followed the path the secular world forged. we have christian guides to dating, to sex, to marriage. we have christian romance novels and we have christian dating websites. most of the time, the only difference between the christian version and secular are the jesus, church and bible references.

i want to be married and to have a family. it's something i've dreamed of as long as i can remember. today that dream rattles around my heart, my head, my soul as a longing that sometimes feels as though it might suffocate me under its weight. at the encouragement of friends, i joined a christian dating website. at first this was fun, i began emailing guys i thought were interesting and people emailed me. with a few guys, it progressed to im, using personal email addresses, phone calls, and a coffee date. but the longer i've been in it, something has just felt off about it, uncomfortable, like i've bought a pair of jeans on sale and marked irregular. you can't see the irregularity when you look at them, but when you wear them, you can feel it.

yesterday a friend was talking about something that our pastor said in the sunday service. our pastor pointed out that when people write their own wedding vows, they use the language of i love you today, i'll love you more tomorrow, but that in traditional (old-fashioned some would say) vows, the loving part is worded as i promise to love you. i've been thinking about that. a promise implies a choice of emotion, in this case love. in other words, i'm choosing to love that person and i'm promising to make that choice to love them. this version of love makes more sense to me than the fireworks & fairy tales that we're taught to believe. choosing to love someone makes sense. i choose to love god daily, i choose to try to follow him. i don't always follow him well or closely. some days i wonder if i really love him, but i choose to keep trying. it's the only choice that makes sense to me. this choosing to love is what i think we've been seduced away from, both as a culture and as christians.

choosing to love requires being brave enough to be vulnerable and express your choice in loving ways. choosing to love requires tenacity--a willingness to continue in the face of challenge and adversity. choosing to love requires responsiblity in fulfilling the promise to make the choice to love daily.

i think this is why the dating website, and often times dating in general, for me, feels like an irregular pair of jeans. we're looking for the fireworks, for the opening line of a fairy tale. when it isn't there, we simply move to the next person on the site. i'm not wired this way. i'm wired to be willing to choose to love a good man. i have several good guy friends about whom i've thought, this is the kind of man i could fall in love with. the 'falling in love' part hasn't happened and we've become friends. i think, though, what i mean by 'falling in love' is that this is the kind of man i could choose to love.

so much for this rambling musing... i'm not quite sure where to go with it or what to do with it from here...

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