When it comes to relationships and falling in love, what does “true love” look like? After all, the movies and Hollywood depict it as some intense love scene, or a knight in shining armor sweeping the beautiful princess off her feet and riding into the sunset, living happily ever after. They make marriage out to be old fashioned – a thing of the past, dull and boring. Movies and much of the media portray infidelity as being so refreshing and exciting, like the new flavor of the month – when one drink is insufficient, there is another waiting to be tried. They never really tell you what happens in the “ever after” part of life: waking up each day next to your spouse smelling his or her bad breath, the financial difficulties you will face together, unexpected sickness, the loss of a child, disagreements, or the damage and pain that adultery and divorce causes the other marriage partner, the children, friends and extended family. Not to mention, it breeds distrust in the new relationship. If a man left his first wife for another woman, what makes the new woman think that he will not cheat on her?
Jesus met a lady at a well in Samaria who was trying to find fulfillment in men. The Bible records, “Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, ‘You’re right! You don’t have a husband–for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!'”
This woman was trying to find happiness in a relationship with a man. When one did not work out, she disregarded him and went on to the next one. Jesus explained to her that if she drinks of the “living water”, she will never be thirsty again. In other words, she would not need to keep searching for men to make her happy and come up short time and time again. Men were not her problem. The God-sized void in her heart could only be filled by her creator in an intimate personal relationship with Him experiencing His unconditional love, forgiveness, acceptance and grace! When she places God first in her life, every other relationship would start to make sense.
Have you been trying to find “true love” in a relationship apart from God? Putting God first will bring real meaning to you and your relationships. When you place unrealistic expectations on a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or family member, you are trying to get those people to play the role of God in your life.
You are ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment. Only God can truly satisfy, quenching your thirst for true love. When God is central in your life, you can love others in a balanced way, and God will lead you into healthy relationships and help you to find the right person to marry. He will help you be a giver in the relationship, instead of a taker.
One high profile media couple who divorced recently was Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian. They were married for only 72 days. Kim Kardashian wrote to her fans, “I love with all of my heart and soul. I want a family and babies and a real life so badly that maybe I rushed in to something too soon. I believed in love and the dream of what I wanted so badly. I felt like I was on a fast roller coaster and couldn’t get off when now I know I probably should have. I got caught up with the hoopla and the filming of the TV show that when I probably should have ended my relationship, I didn’t know how to and didn’t want to disappoint a lot of people…It just didn’t turn out to be the fairy tale I had so badly hoped for” (Kim Kardashian: A Message To My Fans, (www.celebuzz.com).
Kim, like most people, wants to experience true love and be fulfilled in a relationship. Unfortunately, she was in such a rush to get married, she paid little attention to warning signs that her marriage was on the rocks before it even began.
Dr. Neil Clark Warren – founder of eHarmony – writes in Finding the Love of your Life, “When a couple is ready to decide on something as all-encompassing as marriage after only a few weeks or months of dating, I assume their decision is long on fantasy and short on reality. It is an indication to me that the “task” of marriage is being seriously underestimated, that the maturity it takes to make a marriage successful year in and year out has not yet been developed.”
How could a person possibly know someone well enough to say “I do” after only a few weeks or months of dating? Many times dating couples are infatuated with each other physically and emotionally, but are not ready to make a wise decision toward marriage. There are lots of things to consider: Can you spend the rest of your life with this person? Are your lives going in a similar direction? Do you want kids? How will you discipline your kids? Where will you live, close to family or far apart? There are so many variables that need to be answered before you make a lifelong commitment in marriage.
Attraction and chemistry are part of the equation when it comes to true love, but without commitment true love will never happen! It is the glue that holds everything else together. Real love equals commitment to the relationship, especially in marriage. When two people commit their lives to each other in holy matrimony, it is until death do us part. It means not placing unrealistic expectations on the other spouse and forgiving each other when an offense develops. It means sticking by each other in the darkest times of life and pulling each other up when one is knocked down. It means serving each other unconditionally, zero strings attached. Real love is sacrificial. It means putting the other person’s needs before his or her own and vice versa. Love is remaining faithful to the person despite not always “feeling” it! It means working through issues and finding creative ways to add meaning and value to the other. It means celebrating the good times and embracing each other through painful ones. Love never fails. It believes the best in each other and not the worst. Love, real love, encourages one another, instead of tearing each other down. It pulls the best out of a person, not the nastiest. It is determined to help the other person succeed in life!
It is very important to spend enough time with your potential mate to determine if you are compatible for the long haul. However, it is also very important to get to know yourself too. Warren points out, “Young people can’t select a marriage partner very effectively if they don’t know themselves well. In this society, where adolescence often lasts until the mid 20’s, identity formation is incomplete until individuals have emotionally separated from their parents and discovered the details of their own uniqueness. They haven’t had time to learn to be independent. They aren’t in a good position to know the kind of person with whom they could form a meaningful lifelong attachment. They simply need more life experience.”
Warren goes on to explain, “If you want to eliminate one of the most prevalent causes of marriage failure, take seriously the need to wait until you have personally developed your identity and life goals. If you do, your selection of a mate will be based on the ‘totally grown up you’…” Not only do people fail at really knowing their potential mate, but they really don’t know who they are either. It is no wonder that roughly 50 percent of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.
We need a revolution in the area of relations in our society today. We need to quit looking to Hollywood and the media for answers on love and life and look to God! The Bible says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT). When we let God lead us, He will direct our steps, including in the area of relationships. He will transform the way we think aligning our thoughts with His ways. As we grasp who we are in Christ, experience His love and understand the purpose He created us for, we can approach relationships, especially a potential marriage relationship, with confidence. God will help us make a wise decision – a decision we can remain committed to, a decision filled with satisfaction and true love!
No matter how messed up your current relationships are, with God all things are possible. He can turn the ugliest mess into something beautiful. Don’t give up. Entrust all of your relationships to God and look to Him for wisdom on how to proceed forward. He is called “the great physician”. He can mend, heal and fix the most difficult situations. Embrace God today. True love is possible!