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Love isn’t all about Happy Endings

Written by Samantha Chin, Singapore 

I absolutely adore animated movies—I grew up watching Disney movie after Disney movie, singing to catchy tunes and laughing along with the cute characters. Almost every plot involved a beautiful princess who found a brave prince willing to slay dragons and evil witches all in the name of love, and they lived happily ever after at the end of the movie. Even dogs and lions found their one true love!

Little did I know, these movies were leading me to believe in a picture of love and marriage that was unrealistic, but God corrected my thinking along the way.  

 

My Timing vs God’s Timing

 When I was 16, I dreamed of meeting someone special by 22, getting married to him at 25, and having children by 28. This year I turn 29, but wedding bells haven’t rung for me yet. Where was the fairytale ending I had been hoping for?

Unlike the movies where one can easily predict that the “happily ever after” will come at the end, it is never so predictable in real life. It takes some people much longer to find their marriage partner—if they do get married at all. Does it mean that all of us who are still single should give up hope? No, I believe not. Instead, I believe God is calling us to wait on His timing.

I have since come to understand that He knows best, and I need to trust Him. Knowing I need this constant reminder, I have Proverbs 16:9 pasted on my bedroom wall, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Tough as it is, I believe He is using this time of singleness to prune me so that I will be more prepared to enter into a covenant relationship with someone He has in store for me when (and if) the time comes. And I can certainly trust that the love story God, my divine matchmaker writes will be so much more glorious than I can ever plan or imagine.

 

My ideal partner vs God’s ideal partner

Other than the perfect timing, I also had a grand idea of how the man I would eventually marry would be like. He would be God-fearing, humorous, caring, loves dogs, able to lead, able to listen attentively yet also give good insight, as well as serve in full-time ministry, or at least consider it. Without realizing it, I was actually looking for someone who had it all together—just like the brave and handsome male lead in the countless movies I had watched.

When my best friend commented that I would simply reject any guy God might bring along who didn’t fulfill these ideals of mine, my first response was to defend my position and argue that these were good desires to have. After all, I wanted to serve God alongside my spouse. Wasn’t that godly thinking?

But the reality is that marriage brings together two sinners who are still works in progress. This means that the man I marry will have weaknesses I may not like and quirks that irritate me. It means that I too would have to confront and work on my own shortcomings. Love is not just about receiving—it is also about giving. It is giving even when I do not feel like it, when I’d rather be doing something else, and when I just can’t stand the sight of him. Love is a verb, not merely a feeling. I will experience romance and laughter, but I will also experience sacrifice, humility, and refinement.

Marriage is about two imperfect people helping each other become more like Christ. And maybe that is also what makes marriage so wonderful—having someone who knows you inside out, warts and all, and still loves you the same.

 

Finding fulfilment in a partner vs in Christ

Cinderella was always dreaming about meeting her prince, so was Rapunzel, and Snow White and, well, you get the idea. It was almost as if their life was incomplete till they found “the one”. When they did, it was bliss—a whole new world unlocked. Initially, I thought the same way. I was constantly searching for someone who would finally make me feel special and complete.

But another friend posed me this question: If one day you find the person you have been dreaming of all your life, and yet you don’t feel as fulfilled as you expected to be, what happens then?

That was a necessary reminder that I must first and foremost find my ultimate fulfillment in Christ, for only He can truly satisfy. These days, I am slowly becoming able to echo what the Psalmist says in Psalms 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”

 

I still love animated movies, my friends can attest to that; but I now watch them knowing that love isn’t all about happy endings. That doesn’t make me desire marriage any less, and though I have much more to learn, having a realistic understanding of it reduces the likelihood I run in the other direction when facing difficulties with my future spouse.

 

©2017 Whole Life. All rights reserved.
This article was first published on Wholelife.sg and republished with permission.

Love One Another

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“Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8)

We all have those people in our life that are “difficult to love”. For some reason or another, the “feeling” of love doesn’t come easily. It may be character issues, temperament, or things the other person has done to us. If we’re honest, we’ve all been on both sides of this situation. I know for a fact there have been times in our marriage that it was difficult for Laura to love me. Thankfully though, her love for me is rooted in something much deeper than feeling.

According to Peter, loving each other is essential to our walk with God. Above everything else, we are called to “maintain an intense love for each other”. This emphasis on love echoes many other verses in the Bible, including the well-known 1 Corinthians 13. In fact, the bible goes so far to say that love must be the basis of all our acts of service. For without it, it will profit no one.

The word “love” in these verses is translated in the greek as “agape”. When the Bible says that “God is love”, this is the definition being used. This is not a love that comes naturally to us (like family, friendship, or romantic loves). Agape love has divine origin. It is unmerited, unconditional and redemptive. It seeks nothing in return.

This is the same love we received from God himself (John 3:16). As we receive this love from God, we are filled to show the same love to others. Peter goes on to say that this type of love “covers over a multitude of sins”. It is love that has the ability to redeem and restore. It’s not easy (we always prefer to love when it “feels natural”)—but this type of love is what matters most.

So as we ponder what it means to love each other, may we consider first God’s incredible agape love for us. May His love motivate us to love others without seeking anything in return. May this type of love strengthen our marriages, families and friendships. And may we pursue this love more than anything else. For we know that in the end, ‘the only thing that matters.. is faith expressing itself through (agape) love.” (Galatians 5:6)

Contributed by Jason Van Dyke, God’s Fingerprints

POEM: There Is No Other Cure

No-Other-Cure

Written by Dominique Gonzaga, Philippines

I used to give several pieces of my heart
To people I loved, like they were little parts.
But every single part came back like a dart
And left me with nothing but a broken heart.

Then I found You—rather, You found me
Held me by the hand, and I felt free
Sin had no more power in my life, only light,
Held sway, and Your perfect delight.

Those little parts, the pieces now made whole,
You stitched them up, You took full control.
Now bounded by Your love, I’m made so pure.
Besides you, Jesus, there is no other cure.

Click on the image or click here to download.

No-Other-Cure-(download) (1)

Should Christians Date?

Bubbling to the surface was months of bitterness. They stood opposite each other, not willing to look each other in the eye. Eye contact, if any, was minimal. The conversation was brief and terse. There were some protestations and justifications, but, in the end, they decided to breakup. They had run headlong into a romantic relationship, only to end with broken hearts.

Is dating biblical? This word certainly did not appear in the Bible, and Scripture does not describe how a man and a woman can proceed from friendship to marriage. So how do we go from one to the other?

As Christians, we are “not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2). The way we date or court—or however one defines it—must be different from the ways of the world.

In worldly dating, intimacy often doesn’t lead to commitment. It tends to skip the friendship stage of a relationship and isolates the couple from other vital relationships. Additionally, the dating couple can become so enamoured with each other that they are distracted from their studies. Worldly dating centres on the self and on instant gratification.

Christian dating, on the other hand, is others-centred and is patient. It is much more than just abstaining from sex before marriage; it requires wisdom. We must realize that the one we are interested in and go out on a date with may not eventually end up being our spouse. Hence we are careful not to leave behind us a string of broken hearts. We are level-headed, making sure that our levels of intimacy don’t race ahead of what we are willing to commit to.

At the end of the day, let us remember: Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Written By Sean Tong for YMI