The Reality of Love –

Song of Solomon 3:4Relationships. Yep, I’m gonna talk about relationships. I didn’t want to be that girl that posted on her blog about her relationship, but I shared this with a group of some fellow Christian girls and was encouraged by them to share it on my blog as well. That said, I don’t plan on making this topic a habit, but for now I feel these words are important enough to share:

I went on my first date two weeks ago today. And well, I guess that kinda makes me an expert on these things, right? To be fair, this wasn’t a first date with a guy I hardly knew, this was a first date with my best friend turned boyfriend and this first date was the product of so much work and love and prayer and patience. That’s what made it such a big deal, really. That and the fact that I had never been on a date before in my life!

And all of my sweet girlfriends gushed and cheered me on and squealed and sang and danced. Goodness, I love my friends. I woke up the following morning to messages upon messages inquiring how it went and what happened and prying for all the details. Because well… we’re girls. And we love those little details. We love to hear about first dates. About how he brought her flowers. How he whispered in her ear that she was beautiful and he loved her. We want to hear it all; the way he held her hand, the look he gave her, the words he said, ect. We are girls and we are in love with love.

And you know what? Love is beautiful. Love is wonderful. And love is hard. Did you hear that last one? Read it again. It’s a part of this relationship stuff that we girls ignore, either purposely or unconsciously I’m not sure. And the problem is that people say that to us and it just doesn’t sink in. We brush it off like, “Yeah, yeah, I know” and continue on with our daydream. In fact, your mind may know full well that love is hard, but until your heart knows you won’t truly understand what that means.

And because of that I’m sure that for most of you this will fall on deaf ears. I think of myself a few years ago and realize that had I read this then I would have agreed whole heartedly and continued on with my unconscious belief that my future guy would be perfect in every way and if he were imperfect it would be so perfectly imperfect that it’d just be perfect… or something like that. But I hope that there are a few of you girls out there who need to hear this and who will take it to heart. I pray that God will use these words to speak to you, because He’s led me to say them.

Scrolling through your facebook news feed you see these posts from your friends with boyfriends and they’re usually along the lines of, “Look at these flowers! I have the best guy in the world!” or “Happy one month, baby! I love you more than ever.” or “Date time! Gonna be a great night!” And you know what? You’ll probably see posts like that from me. If Paul gives me flowers, I’ll probably post a picture and do a little gushing. And if we’re hanging out, I may take a picture and post it up. But every time I do this, a little part of me wishes there were some way to convey to you more than just what you see there. I wish there were a way for you to see the times when Paul and I struggle and the times when we grow impatient with one another. The times when we must confess our shortcomings to one another and pray inwardly that this isn’t the last straw that makes the other give up and walk away. I wish that you could see the way that love throws your heart through a constant cycle of pain and difficulty.

We see all these photos of sweet couples posted up on Pinterest or as an engagement announcement. For photographer girls like me, we are the ones behind the camera, capturing these two people so in love. And in our minds we may be lost in thinking to ourselves that this is what love is about. That love is about someone holding your hand. It’s about someone looking at you with an adoring look or holding you close in their arms. And you know what? I love that part of love. I love the way that Paul holds my hand. I love the way he holds me in his arms. I love his touch because it tells me he loves me. But it means so much because of what we have been through for that love.

The fact of the matter is, Paul is not perfect and neither am I. The fact of the matter is that even just this past weekend Paul and I had some struggles we had to figure out. And you want to think that if you are in love with a person you will never really run into these problems. You want to think that struggles like trusting the other person or speaking hurtfully are for other people who aren’t as in love as you. That’s what I thought. Somehow I had this false expectation that my relationship was gonna be perfect. That even if there were struggles I would never question our love and we would never have to really fight hard at all to make us work.

When you take two fallen human beings and put them that closely together, there is bound to be difficulty. Worse yet, there is bound to be hurt. Because somehow it’s the people you love most and are closest to that you are most likely to hurt. Why? Because they are close to you and neither of you are perfect. In fact, love has a way of exposing your imperfections. The truth is that Paul and I bring out the best in each other, but our love also exposes the deepest parts of our hearts and that means everything – good, bad, sweet, ugly. When you love someone you’re no longer walking this earth carrying only your burdens, but theirs as well. And you do it because you love them, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to do. Sometimes you have to choose to carry those burdens, because otherwise you would never have taken them upon yourself. Because burdens like a person’s past or a character struggle are hard burdens to carry. They hurt sometimes. Sometimes they hurt like crazy. Sometimes you wonder if you can move past them. Sometimes your heart is weak and wants to give up. And that’s when you move past your feelings and choose to love that person.

I didn’t want to be someone that another person had to choose to love. I didn’t want to be someone that wasn’t always easy to love. But the truth is, if I am to truly be who I am in this love that means I have to truly be honest about the not so great parts of me and that’s where Paul chooses to love me in spite of my struggles. And that is beautiful. That is what makes the way that he looks at me so amazing. That is what makes this love such a blessing. The difficulty proves the love. But that doesn’t mean it’s not downright hard.

So what am I saying? Love is a good thing, girls. But it’s so much more than a facebook post about a sweet bouquet. It goes far beyond a “Good morning, beautiful” text or a mushy note. Love is a thing that reaches down to the very depths of your heart and that can be painful. It’s a constant work to die to yourself and serve the other. So while you’re sitting there daydreaming, don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Keep your standards high, but realize that your man will not be perfect. And use your time of singleness to prepare your heart for selfless love (Here’s a hint: that kind of love is only possible with God as your guide and the first in your heart).

It’s okay to be in love with love. Love is beautiful. Love is fun. But there are parts of love that will shake your fairy tale to pieces and seem to laugh in your face as you stare at it crumbled on the floor. I do not mean at all to discourage you, but I do mean to be honest with you. It’s hard not to long for a guy to hold you. To want a boyfriend simply for the sake of being in love with the idea of it. It’s fun to get flowers and cute texts and be told that you are beautiful. But these are little things compared to the reality of what love truly is. Examine your heart, friend. What are your misconceptions about love and relationships? What are some lies you have been telling yourself as you long for that special someone to be in your life?

4 comments

  1. annabelle says:

    Hey Rachel! Im almost 16 and well.. admittedly a hopeless romantic (cringe!). Recently I read one of your articles in “thats my girl” (christian mag) so I decided to go onto ur blog. Wow..this post really spoke to me and it encouraged me more than u can imagine! thanks for your story πŸ™‚
    xx

  2. Thank you Rachel. Thank you for being an encouragement, a voice of truth, an example to girls who love Jesus and are walking through tough times. I agree with your friends- this message needs to be shared.
    I will be sharing this with my almost sixteen year old πŸ™‚
    So good to read your words again!

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