14 – The Hazards of Love, part 1
Love. We long for it. Anticipate finding it and how it will make us and our lives better. And it often does exactly that. But for many, the reality of love isn’t remotely related to the dream of it. How can something so seemingly good become a negative in our lives? In this series of two podcasts, we explore three of the most common hazards of love–what they are, why they happen, and how God can heal them.
Love can be a safe place, but for so many of us, it’s got land mines everywhere. As we talked about this issue, we realized that women in particular look to love and its celebration to give us a sense of wonder and being cherished. We want the warm fuzzy we get at the end of a romantic comedy. Those of us who have written romances, we write them because they are so much fun, because the heroes are all heroes. We love it that love is just wonderful.
But real love, the love that we know as humans, is hardly ever like that. It’s just not warm and fuzzy all the time, and there are some relationships where it’s very seldom warm and fuzzy. In fact, love can end up being more hard work, and sometimes it’s downright messy.
There are three particular hazards of love that we’ve identified. There are a lot more, of course, but these are the three we’re focusing on for the next two podcasts. Yes, my friends, love is a two-podcast topic!
Hazard of Love #1 – Unrealized Dreams
When you haven’t found love, it’s an unrealized dream. You’re waiting and waiting, and you’re ready to jump into the wonder and the adventure, but your perfect mate is not showing up! Or maybe you’ve had one potential prince after another turn out to be a big fat frog. With warts. Lots of big bumpy warts.
We are joking here, but we do know, this is an issue that a lot of people struggle with. It’s one that makes us wonder what is God doing? Or maybe more appropriately, why isn’t He doing what we long for Him to do?
In many ways, as women, this is what we long for, to be cherished. And God put that in us, so why isn’t He fixing it? I wish we had some profound answer to offer those folks who are single and who want to be in a relationship, and those who feel they’re ready to love, and receive love, but it’s just not happening. I know you’ve all heard the nice and tidy responses we could give you, but these are platitudes.
Here’s the truth. There is no easy answer for being in the waiting room of God’s will. Regardless of what you are waiting for, whether it’s a relationship, whether it’s a contract, whether it’s anything like that, your focus should be on God. And your focus should be on what He has for you in the midst of the waiting. And in the midst of the here and now, focusing on what He’s doing in you right now.
That’s one kind of unrealized dream, but there are a lot of others that have to do with love. What about the dream proposal, or the dream wedding? When it really happens, no matter how much you plan for something, things are going to go wrong. And if we are fixed on what our dream is, we feel like they’re slipping away, like we are losing those dreams, one little piece at a time.
There’s another dream too. What about the dream of the love life and the marriage that has 2.5 children, and you stay married until you are hitting your 60th anniversary? These are all dreams that may or may not come true.
So what’s the fix for unrealized dreams?
We’ve been talking about this and praying about it, and one of the answers we discovered is that you need to have a paradigm shift. Stop looking at your dream. Stop looking at the thing and start looking at the people that God has in your path. Get your focus off of the events. Get your focus off of the proposal and any of that and look instead at the people that God has in your path. And look at God’s plan for you. Remember, things don’t matter.
I’m not saying don’t try to make your dreams nice, and don’t try to make your dreams come true, but when things don’t work out, don’t hold onto them so tightly that you lose the focus on what matters most: you, the other person in the relationship, and God. Keep your focus on God.
We have dreams in our writing careers too, and that needs a paradigm shift too. We envision the perfect launch party, the perfect cover. Oh, how often that happens! The perfect sales numbers, the perfect editing job, the perfect everything. It’s not going to happen that way. It’s not! Instead we have to focus on simply doing the task that God has for us, finding His dream for us. I guarantee it is not about sales numbers or contracts. It’s about being in a love relationship with Him. Being with Him. We talked about that in our last podcast with Allen Arnold. That was an episode called Creating with God. If you haven’t heard that, go back and listen to that.
Hazard of Love #2 – Unmet Expectation
You are in a relationship with the one. You have your mate. But it’s not at all what you expected. You’re discovering that maybe your knight is your court jester. You’re finding that maybe the little things are becoming big things. You thought you’d share everything, you’d be two peas in a pod, two halves of a whole, but life it isn’t like that.
So what’s the fix for unmet expectations?
There’s only one way through this kind of struggle and that’s to surrender your expectations. Just to lay them on the altar. To take whatever rights you think you have and just place them there and let God take care of them.
We can look at one of the most well known Bible verses on love and see what that has for us:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others. It is not self seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
To me, the theme here is what we are supposed to do, how we are supposed to act as we love others.
This verse isn’t about what you get. It’s about what you give and how you give.
There’s another paradigm shift because when I’ve read and listened to that before, I’ve seen it through the eyes of this: “I’m not getting those things from my spouse. I’m not getting those things from the people around me.”
We need to read that through the eyes of this: Am I patient, am I kind, do I envy, do I boast, am I proud? Do I dishonor others? Am I self-seeking? Am I easily angered?
And all those things become the reality of looking and asking, am I being the loving person that God is calling me to?
Being in a relationship isn’t about making the other person into who you think they should be. It’s about focusing on God and becoming who He’s called us to become. To love God first and foremost, and love others as ourselves. Being long suffering and kind and all of those things, and leaving the other person to God. It’s not about changing someone else so they love you better. It’s about knowing how I need to change. It’s about me choosing to act more patient, to act more kind.
I’ve struggled with that from time to time, because for me as I’ve looked at all of this, I feel that, not only can we not change another person, we can’t really, in our own power, change ourselves. We can make those decisions, and we can go in full well intending to do those things but…humanity! All those struggles that we go through, and the hurt and all that stuff that plays into it. And like Scripture says, what I would do, I don’t do, and the very thing I don’t want to do, I do. And so it’s not about changing ourselves for me as much as it is just surrendering. Taking what we think are our rights and putting them on Gods altar.
I also think, though, that we have to be responsible, we have to act responsibly and be proactive. We can’t just be passive and say okay, I’m just going to sit in my corner till God changes me. If we are praying, if we are meditating on verses like 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, something happens to us. We might be losing our patience and wanting to yell and wanting to be angry, but then we hear that little voice, that little calm down check of the spirit. Be patient. And then we have that choice to follow through. We don’t have the ability to do that without God’s power working in us, but we do have to be proactive.
We focus on surrendering, we focus on giving ourselves to God, to His refinement, and making the choice to be who and what He wants us to be and to do, understanding that in and of ourselves we can’t do it. But He will answer when we call to Him and when we surrender.
These are the hard truths about love, about romance. And for people out there who are writing books, and they have romance in the book somewhere, and you get those complaints, “it’s so sappy, it’s so this, it’s so that,” maybe you aren’t putting the hard truths in there. Maybe you are not being authentic with the struggles of what’s going on.
As somebody who starting out writing romance novels, one of the things that we have to make sure we don’t do is make the fantasy first and foremost what’s important, rather than the reality of love and romance. Yes, a romance novel has a certain tone, and there are certain golden rules that you have to fill. They have to meet early, the romance has to be the primary focus of the book, and there has to be the happy ending. But even in the context of a romance, you can write authentically. You can write authentically about the struggles and the difficulties in communication. Not those easy, little tensions that all it would take is one conversation between the hero and the heroine to get past it.
Let’s be authentic about these struggles and about how hard it is in the deep when we are caught up in relationships. Let’s give ourselves, and our true life experiences, to those for whom we are writing our stories, or the nonfiction book that talks about marriage. Don’t give those easy answers about it or about singleness. Don’t give the platitudes. Give the truth of what you experience going through the deep.
We’ve talked about two hazards and their solutions, but we still have a third one to talk about, and I think it’s probably the hardest one. And so, it’s going to get its own show. You have to join us next time!
We’d love to hear from you!
Can you identify with either these hazards?
How did you cope?