Growing Up on Hollywood’s Love

I rolled my eyes when I read the news that Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston are an item. “Wait, what? Didn’t she just break up with Calvin Harris like yesterday?” I thought as I scrolled through the story.

Anyway, that’s old news in Hollywood-land because Swift has now a new beau in the shape and form of Hiddleston (and I’m feeling rather sad because I’m a huge Hiddleston fan!)

Photos of Swift “kissing on the beach” with Hiddleston were published by UK tabloid, The Sun. A source told The Sun that both Swift and Hiddleston were “all over each other—hugging and kissing—even though there were 20 people coming and going on the beach”. “They looked like any young couple madly in love without a care in the world”.

By then I had to stop reading because I was afraid I might explode. I wanted to yell, “In love? What do they know about love? They’ve just met!” But I suppose that didn’t matter to Swift and Hiddleston because there’s the “spark”, and in Hollywood, that’s probably all you need to be “madly in love”.

Similarly, when Harris and Swift broke up, sources had told entertainment news E!News that Harris “has been bored for a while and was hoping the spark would come back, but it hasn’t” and “friends were even surprised it lasted this long because of the lack of chemistry”.

But just two months ago, The Hollywood Gossip ran an article with the headline, “Taylor Swift is So in Love with Calvin Harris”, leading with an image of Swift at the annual music event, Coachella, standing among the crowds, with her arms outstretched towards the stage. The Hollywood Gossip wrote how the singer reaching out for boyfriend Harris was “one of the sweetest pictures we’ve seen in a long time”. At one point, there were rumors of the couple’s engagement because Harris was just simply gaga over Swift.

Never mind all that, the relationship had to end because Harris was now bored and was no longer feeling the “spark” between the two. For fans and thousands of hopeless romantics around the world, news of the couple’s breakup may have brought a collective groan. When I read about Harris’ and Taylor’s breakup, I couldn’t help but wonder if many of us have unwittingly fallen into the trap of believing that for a relationship to work, we need to constantly feel the “spark” and “chemistry”.


Feeding on Hollywood’s Love

I grew up watching Hollywood movies and reading magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Cleo, and Girlfriend. My friend and I would rush to our school library during our free periods to nab the latest Girlfriend magazines so as to pore through the articles on love, dating, and relationship.

We would read the top 10 tips on how to know if a guy was “the one” for you, on “finding your soulmate”, and on how to have a relationship like Hollywood’s coolest couples. We were on a quest to find our eternal one true love as we had been taught by Hollywood movies. The fact that we were only 17, and should have been preparing for our university entrance examinations, was irrelevant.

In terms of movies, I am generally not a fan of romantic comedies, with their cheesy plots and clichéd lines. But there were a few that I have enjoyed such as Love Actually, A Walk To Remember—which almost made me cry—and Bridget Jones’s Diary, which still is my favorite movie/book of all time.

Over the years, Hollywood continues to pump out its version of love with chick-flicks like Something Borrowed, The Notebook, Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached, and Valentine’s Day, and recently, the movie adaption of the controversial 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.

The movie, Something Borrowed, was about Rachel White who was secretly in love with her friend Dex, who was engaged to Rachel’s best friend Darcy. To cut the long story short, Rachel and Dex eventually decided they had to be true to their feelings and so the engagement with Darcy was called off. The movie ended with Rachel and Dex holding hands, no doubt walking into the land of happily ever after (and I had to control myself from breaking the DVD into a million pieces). And please don’t get me started on 50 Shades of Grey, with the awful writing and bondage-relationship between college graduate, Anastasia and business magnate, Christian Grey. But as much as I cringed and winced, I soon came to realize that Hollywood’s depiction of how love should look and feel like had inadvertently influenced me.

A few years ago, I went to look for my youth pastor, exasperated. After three years of working as a reporter in New Zealand, I was growing bored of my community newsroom, and I wanted something a bit more exciting. Moving to Australia seemed like a logical choice. Also, there was a former university mate that I quite fancied when we were students who had relocated there.

“What if I don’t move to Australia and I miss out on my one true love?” I remember asking my youth pastor as I clutched my mug of hot chocolate. It was a real issue at that point in my life and I had (what I thought was) a life-and-death decision to make. Besides, my years reading Cosmopolitan magazine has told me I should not let my “one true love” slip away.

I don’t know how he did it, but I’m very sure if I had a 20-something-year-old asking me such a question, I would have choked on my coffee. Instead, my youth pastor calmly said I should not move to Australia for a guy, soulmates do not exist (and it’s not even a biblical principal), and that love was more than just fuzzy feelings for each other. “Love is about continually laying down your life for your spouse the way Jesus laid down His life for us,” he said. In other words, love is hard work, with lots of sacrifices involved, and it’s never really about rainbows and ponies.

So that began my journey of finding true love.


Growing on God’s Love

In a book I read by American pastor Gary Thomas, The Sacred Search, he said the love that the world values is “a brief, intense, and romantic attraction that makes us both vulnerable and stupid, and that lasts on average, about 12 to 18-months . . .  It celebrates making rash decisions in a storm of emotion. It evaluates ‘love’ by the intensity of emotional attachment that science tells us will never really last. In other words, fleeting fun.”

But to be fair to Hollywood, not all of its movies portray love as a fairy-tale romance. Films like The Theory of Everything, A Beautiful Mind, The King’s Speech—to name a few—showed the nitty gritty of sacrificial love. While most would have heard of Stephen Hawking, John Nash, and King George VI and their respective achievements, what blows me away is the steadfast love their wives had showed them. Jane Wilde Hawking cared tirelessly for her now former husband, Stephen Hawking. Similarly, Alicia Nash stood by husband John Nash as he battled Schizophrenia. And the late Queen Mother, along with the help of an Australian speech language therapist, helped the late King George VI overcome his stutter and fear of public speaking.

When I see how Jesus shows His love for me, I don’t think of a warm fuzzy love that might die the moment He is bored of me. Instead, I see a Savior who loves me so much that He went to the cross for me. The Bible says there is no greater love than someone who lays his life down for his friend (John 15:13). Jesus’s love for me was unconditional and nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39). He doesn’t love me with a Hollywood sort of love, where the other party vanishes the moment life gets hard. No, Jesus’s love for me is steadfast, unfailing, and firm.

And Jesus teaches us to base our decisions on something eternal—God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Pastor Thomas wrote that “Jesus’s words urge us to find someone with whom we can share a mission instead of an emotional infatuation. Instead of finding someone who makes us lose all sense of objectivity, Jesus’s teachings direct us to make a decision that will lead to righteousness—seek someone who will inspire us towards godliness, who will confront us when we go astray, who will forgive us when we mess up, who can encourage us with wisdom when we are uncertain about how to proceed.”

It might be light-years before I tie the knot (I have to first find a husband!), but I pray that when the day does come, I have what it takes to love my husband the way Jesus loves me.

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