Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Met A Girl

I met a girl. She's awesome. And what's more, she thinks I'm awesome. We are very awesome. You might say that I'm in love. I've told her that I love her at least a hundred times now. It feels good to say "I love you" when you mean it. I couldn't really say that to a girl until now. Now it's not hard to say it at all, in fact, it just feels like a sin not to say it. We've also kissed. I've heard some Christians say that you shouldn't kiss before you're married. Maybe they're right. Kissing is dangerously fun. Why is it so fun? I don't know, but it's not as fun if you don't love the person. But I love this girl, and so it's fun to kiss her. Ever since we started dating, I've felt like I was dreaming. I know that sounds corny and it's probably because of some chemical imbalance, but that's how I've felt. I keep thinking that it's too good to be true. If I don't see her for a day then I think that I imagined it all. Maybe it's because somewhere along the line I'd become a cynic about true love. I was beginning to wonder if it really existed. It seems that when life pranks us over and over again, we become skeptical about anything that resembles hope. Or love.

 To tell you the truth, falling in love was terrific and terrifying at the same time. I found myself asking scary questions like "What if she doesn't love me as much as I love her?" or "Does this mean that I have to start tucking in my shirt?" And then I began to wonder if God was going to get mad at me for loving her so much. I didn't want Him to get jealous that I was giving her so much attention. I didn't want to get into trouble, I didn't want to mess it up. I'm not going to lie, there have been some bumps in the road. We've had a few minor arguments, but in hindsight I realize that even those arguments were really because of love, love finding some kind of traction through trust. We were both feeling like we were miles off the ground, and if this thing didn't work out then it was going to hurt. Someone told me to guard my heart and I told him that I'd heard that before but now I wasn't sure what that meant. In the past, guarding my heart meant keeping people at a distance. But I didn't want to keep this girl at a distance. I wanted to let her in. I wanted to risk a little in order to reach for something a little impossible.

It's fun to tell people about the person you love. When I told my parents, my mom said "I've never heard you talk like that before about a girl." I probably look and sound a little crazy when I tell people about her, then they naturally want to meet her, probably just to make sure that I'm not crazy. I think that's how it should be when we tell people about Jesus too. We should be so intense and giddy as we talk about Jesus that people should want to meet him. He really is a very nifty person. He created a whole world full of galaxies and oceans and music and the girl I love. If that doesn't spark interest in people then they are uninteresting people.

 I see why it's a bad idea to love someone more than God. When something good tries to pose as God then it actually becomes a lie, because it can never be God, God is God. It's always a bad idea to let a lie rule your life. Through all of this, I keep telling God that He is my supreme love. He is God. But I'm not really reminding Him, I'm reminding myself. This girl is a gift from God, one more expression of God's love to me. It's scary how our eyes can get so fixated on a gift more than the person giving it. The dangerous thing about God's generosity is that we can become very selfish and spoiled children. We can even forget to love him back. And yet there's also a curious dimension to this in that I can love God to a certain degree by loving this girl. By romancing her, I can't help but see God smiling from ear to ear. He's blessed when she's blessed. He probably even chuckles when he sees us together, we can be very silly. Sometimes one of us will pretend we are going in for a kiss and then lick the other's nose. She started it. We've shared some nutty experiences. Like the other day, we were standing in the extremely long line at Voodoo Donuts in Portland. Suddenly, hundreds of people started screaming and pointing and running down the street. Most of the people jumped out of line which was fine with me. A surprise appearance by Godzilla himself would not prevent me from partaking in the rare delicacy of an Oreo/Marshmallow donut. So what was everyone freaking out about? Well, apparently once a year Portland hosts a parade where thousands of people ride bikes through downtown. And they are naked. I've never seen so many naked people, I'm probably scarred and need lots of prayer and healing now. Anyway, we got our donuts and ate them while surrounded by the delightfully romantic ambiance of thousands of streakers on wheels. Yes, thank you Portland for that indelible memory, you really are weird, but I still love you. Anyway, dating is lots of fun. To be continued...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Everybody Marries The Wrong Person

"Everybody Marries The Wrong Person." I saw this statement as a book title and it got me thinking. It sounds pessimistic at first, but to me it was a refreshing thought in its own way. There is so much pressure to find the one person in the world who is right for you. But that is the problem. There is something wrong with everybody. If you don't see their quirks and flaws right away, then time will tell all. Our thinking is riddled with contradictions. We know that nobody is perfect and yet we search for the perfect husband or wife. And if that's not enough, many of us feel the pressure of becoming perfect before we get married. But how can we really expect to be a crack shot at something that we've never done before?

I read an article in this month's Psychology Today that challenges the idea that there is one right person for everyone. The article said that that sort of thinking sets couples up for disenchantment and disappointment and often divorce follows. The reason is because it excuses you from taking responsibility for the problems in the relationship because your first thought is "I married the wrong person, it's all her fault, I need to get out of this and find the right person." Now, there are extreme exceptions. For instance, being married to a meth addict would pose a lot more problems than being a married to a person with a full set of teeth. But the point is that when people hop from relationship to relationship looking for the "right person" then they are merely trading old problems for a set of new ones. Why? Because you and I are part of the problem. We don't necessarily need to change partners we just need to mature.

Regardless, it seems that many Christians think that there is one right person for them. I'm not sure where they got this, because it's not in the Bible anywhere, unless you have the Disney translation. Of course, God is involved in the whole process of two people coming together but I'm not convinced that it's predestined or written in the stars somewhere. It sounds more like a lot of singles are looking for an easy marriage, and all the married people are telling us that marriage is challenging no matter who you marry. Maybe we should listen. It's interesting that statistically speaking young people are getting divorced more than anyone else. An article in the NY Times reads "more marriages dissolve before the age of 30 than at any other time." I bring this up because I find that youth and idealism often go hand in hand. Don't get me wrong, I am a glass-half-full optimist, but idealism is a little different. Optimism sees the good side of reality. But idealism is fueled more by fantasy and sets us up for disillusionment, because we weren't seeing the world clearly in the first place. Idealism doesn't equip us with the tools we need to face reality.

Yesterday, in our church staff meeting, a pastor's wife was talking about how blessed she was by her husband. I hope that my future wife someday boasts about me. I think that would be the highest compliment, to hear that from the one person who knows you better than anyone, who knows about your shortcomings and yet brags about you to others. It doesn't seem to happen very much these days, sadly I hear so many wives badmouthing their husbands. Maybe some of it is warranted and maybe some of it is a little harsh. I don't want to fuel the battle of the sexes and there is always two sides to a statistic, but it is interesting that statistically women file for divorce twice as much as men. However, this is not necessarily a point for the guys, because generally speaking guys tend to be less eager to work on their marriages.

If we want an actual Biblical model for marriage, then here it is: Christ didn't marry us because we were the "right person," Christ loved us while we were still sinners. This is the divine blueprint for a divine marriage. A marriage that is alive is a marriage that grows out of the dirt into something lush and beautiful. I think that compatibility is not static, but that if two people are willing then they can grow more compatible over time. In short, you will marry a sinner and so will she. Mistakes are inevitable, but forgiveness will make a relationship invincible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Poem About God's Love

A heart that dares to love, is a heart that dares to break
And a God who infinitely loves is a God who must infinitely ache
How does it feel to have so many runaway children when you're a good Father?
How does it feel to wait for a bride that leaves you standing at the altar?
How can you be so crazy about a world full of crazy people?
Surely, You are not blind and yet you love everyone as equal
Oh lover of my soul, how deep does your love for me really go?
If you were to love only the polished parts of me, well then there aren't many
And if you're looking for perfection then I'm not ready
I need a love that goes deeper than me, deeper than sin
Because most of the time I feel like I have an evil twin
Do you love even him?
I need a love that is willling to stand by me through it all
Not only when I'm taking a stand but when I'm taking a fall
And so it seems that when I'm on the ground is when I'm much, much closer to bowing down
And I do bow
I bow even now
Under the weight of this love I cannot possibly stand, I cannot possibly understand
I cannot possibly withstand
This love that outlives death, this love that fills my every breath
This love that pursues the very crumbs of my soul
This love that burns until it devours me whole
How many times have I walked away?
And how many times have you called my name?
Anyone that does the math will see what I see
39 lashes plus 3 nails sounds like love to me
In the end, my heart doesn't stand a chance
Against a God that went through hell for me, a God that bleeds romance.