I was that guy growing up. The one who only liked a couple of the chocolate surprises in the box of chocolates but really, really didn’t like surprises when it came to my food. So every Valentine’s Day, while searching for the marshmallow or peanut butter, I would smash my thumb into every other truffle in the box. I’m pretty sure my sisters hated it and I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one who implemented that strategy because these days there’s a wonderful map to tell the selective snacker where delicious marshmallow can be found and where the never-should-have-been-there-to-begin-with-are-you-kidding-me-with-this jelly filled land mines are hiding. Thank you Mr. Whitman!
I know now my strategy was selfish. It made sense, but it was deeply selfish and was never part of the design for heart shaped boxes of chocolate. I know there are some out there that actually want the coconut filled kind, but I also know they aren’t what you hoped for after being smushed, dried out and filled with your little brother’s thumb print. It’s now clear that my careless, self-absorbed method for finding just the right chocolate left a box full of brokenness behind.
The pseudo-romantic search for True Love has the exact same effect and I place much of the blame on Cupid. The chubby little figment of the ancient Roman mind has destroyed far more love stories than he’s helped.
A formula of “romantic” marketing, syrupy songs, and unrealistic love stories mixed with the myth of Cupid’s arrow and our incessant pursuit of happiness adds up to a bunch of broken human hearts where well designed whole ones once lived.
Many are convinced there’s a Mr. or Mrs. Right waiting for them out there. We talk about him as tall, dark, and handsome… and funny. We speak of her in frankly derogatory ways. But when chasing Cupid’s “True Love,” the most important characteristic we are really looking for is perfection. All we want is a person who we find attractive, has no baggage, plenty of money, and most importantly, a willingness to believe all our selfish habits and character flaws are cute.
We don’t want to love another broken person, we want a loyal dog who always wags his tail when we come home.
So we date, and we date, and we date. We pick the other person apart, not appreciating the good but searching for the flaws. So we break-up, and we break-up, and we break-up. But most times we’ve made sure we had sex before we identified all the flaws because there would be nothing worse than finding an otherwise perfect human being with whom we lacked “sexual compatibility.” While searching for this mythical “True Love” we smush other people and leave brokenness behind.
That’s the furthest thing from love.
Personal Satisfaction saw Love walking down the street and mugged Him. He beat him, stole his clothes, and has been walking our planet masquerading as Love ever since.
The impostor seeks perfection. Love knows the other person isn’t perfect because Love knows you.
The impostor chases Mr. Right. Love seeks to become Mrs. Right for someone else.
The impostor gets hurt and runs, believing himself justified. Love gets hurt and then Love forgives.
The impostor falls in and out of love. Love maintains even when the other person isn’t very likable.
The impostor seeks his own happiness. Love fights for the other’s happiness.
The impostor wants to be served. Love serves.
But our searching process seems to make sense. There are a lot of bad guys and bad girls out there and we don’t want to bind ourselves to one of them. It would be unwise to enter a marriage with someone with whom we have nothing in common. How will we know if the person is offering Love if we don’t check him out first? And I understand, I really do. And you’re right, to a point.
I’m not advocating a Forrest Gump Attitude – “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” I don’t believe we should blindly jump into a relationship and the just stick it out; that’s not Love, that’s foolishness.
It’s okay to know there are qualities you desire and ones you want to avoid. I’d say that’s part of the process.
Cupid’s myth has blinded us and we don’t even know it. Due to his poisoned darts, many of us only see an open box of smushed chocolates and hopelessly start picking through the brokenness. The diaper wearing angel of destruction has convinced us he’s our guide. He’s a liar.
The truth is there’s a map. It’s been there the whole time but many of us never knew it was there.
If you know you don’t like orange creme you don’t have to eat it, and you don’t have to smush it to find out. Somebody does want that orange creme and would rather you keep your hands off it anyway. Ya dig?
There’s a story more romantic than any of Shakespeare’s sonnets and full of wisdom and truth.
There’s poetry that sings to our heart’s deepest desire,
Love is patient and kind;
Love does not envy or boast:
It is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
Believes all things,
Hopes all things,
Endures all things.
Love never ends.
That’s what we want. That’s what we were designed for. That’s who God is.
The impostor tells you you’re worthless. He lies.
The impostor tells you they’re not worth it. He lies.
The impostor bloodied Love and thought he left him for dead, but Love conquered death and rose again.
Love tells you you’re worth dying for. He’s truth.
Love reminds you they’re worth dying for, too. He’s truth.
This Valentine’s Day, and any day that follows, remember you’re loved. Remember Cupid’s a liar. Remember there’s nothing but pain in the empty ideas that lead to sampling and smushing and creating brokenness. Remember there’s hope for the most broken among us. Remember true love is found not in taking, but giving; not in stealing, but preserving; not in wanting, but being; not in lies, but truth.