Man cannot live without love.
He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself,
his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him,
if he does not encounter love,
if he does not experience love and make it his own,
if he does not participate intimately in it.
(Redemptor Hominis, Pope St. John Paul II)
For a long time now, I have stopped watching “chick flicks.” I catch snippets of it once in awhile on TV but the last time I watched one in the theater was more than a decade ago. It’s just that I find myself critiquing the movie instead of enjoying it.
I find that most romantic movies, when you look under the surface, depict a cheap kind of “love” – one that is shallow, counterfeit, and not as meaningful as true love. The characters meet through very romantic (but often unrealistic) circumstances, fall in love pretty fast, encounter some problems which they resolve with very little effort, and then somehow live happily ever after.
After being in a relationship, I slowly discovered that authentic love is very far from what Hollywood portrays on the big screen. It is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. It is not just about romantic feelings, but primarily about a choice – a choice to commit oneself to love one’s spouse each day despite all the difficulties. It is self-sacrificing – “giving until it hurts” in Blessed Mother Teresa’s words. It is more glorious and transcendent than anything that we know in this world because when we love, we mirror the One who is Love and loves us from all eternity. And it requires a lot of work, despite what Hollywood would have us believe.
“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13:7)
Though these films certainly can be somewhat entertaining, I think it degrades our idea of love and conditions us to settle for this cheapened version of “love.” A lot of people no longer aspire for the authentic love that God has created us for. In fact, I often hear friends stay in relationships that do not make them truly happy while knowing these are not good for them.
So why do people settle? One I think is because it’s easy and fast. We live in a world that continuously strives to make things as effortless and quick as possible. The prevailing dating culture attests to this mentality.
The second reason is a lack of trust in God. We are used to making our own plans and timetables without consulting God. We can be so unyielding when it comes to how our life should turn out and when things should happen – when we should get engaged, when we should get married, when we should have children, etc. It can be very scary to just let go of the reins and trust in God’s wisdom.
“I have to get married by the time I’m 30! I can’t wait until I’m 40! That’s too old!”
“What if I never find Ms./Mr. Right? I don’t want to be alone!”
“I can’t leave him/her. What if it takes too long to find someone better? It’s too difficult to start over.”
But it ceases to be frightening when we remember that we are putting our faith in our Heavenly Father who knows what’s best for us and loves us more than anyone can. He wants us all to be happy and find love and He has a beautiful plan for each and everyone of us. Maybe for some, it will be getting married and having children. For some, finding love might involve a bit of waiting. And then there will be others who He has called to the religious life or to a life of single blessedness. We need to pray for ourselves to put our trust and confidence in God.
We also need to pray to be able to discern God’s will for us. A good spiritual director could help us in this matter. Although it could be difficult in certain situations to recognize if the person we’re with is “the one,” I believe that we can discern correctly in prayer if we are honest and persevering.
Two things helped me recognize that Vincent (who is now my husband) was the one God planned for me. One was, being with him helped me grow in my relationship with God (and continues to do so). If the person you are dating does not make you advance in the path to holiness, that person most probably might not be the spouse that God has chosen for you. Although the person that God has planned for us is not going to be “perfect,” he or she should be leading us to God and not away from Him.
The second one was the joy and peace being with Vincent gives me. Feeling butterflies in the stomach is nice but it’s fleeting and unreliable. Having a deep sense of peace and a lasting joy can’t be faked and are infinitely more precious.
If you have found the person that God has meant for you, I am truly happy for you. It’s a great blessing and it’s the first step in a long journey that will entail a lot of work. For those that have not, maybe you need to wait a little longer. Or maybe God has set your heart apart for Him alone. I hope that in the twilight of our lives, we all together can joyfully say,
I have found him whom my soul loves.
(Song of songs 3:4)
Written by Christmas M. Pammit for worldurbanista.com
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own.
Christmas is blessed to be a wife, mother, and speech-language pathologist. Besides helping her students learn to communicate, she enjoys having long talks with her husband, playing with her children, reading good books, and pretending to sing like a pro when she’s alone or with her family. Born and raised in the Philippines, she is now joyfully raising her three children in New York with her husband.