Sunday, April 13, 2014

Real Love?

I get Christianity Today magazine and read an intriguing article towards the end of the April issue last week. Here's the first line: "The report is in, and the eulogy has been delivered. Romantic comedies are dead. I say that's good news." I was hooked. What could the writer possibly mean?

The writer described Hollywood's typical romantic comedy and argued that a new batch of movies and TV shows seem to be getting at a different message. Many of these recent offerings are either portraying the challenges of romantic relationships or are featuring relationships beyond the romantic as central to the plot. The writer described scenes from several recent movies and TV shows to support her point, including an example from Frozen, my new favorite animated movie. Instead of the act of true love being a true love's kiss in Frozen (a hinge point in so many romantic comedies), the act is a young woman sacrificing her life for her sister.

After citing examples, the writer gets down to the real reason the death of romantic comedies is a good thing. She writes: "Against all odds, Hollywood seems to be discovering that when we make romance the highest form of love, we're missing what love is all about...More important, we forget that love is not just for people in romantic relationships. Real love occupies our whole lives."

This article hits close to home and crystallized some thoughts I'd been turning over in my mind. As I get ready to turn 25 on Tuesday, my thoughts have inevitably turned to broader questions about my life and about life as a whole. Am I happy to be where I am in life? Am I okay with being single at a quarter century?

On Saturday, some dear friends of mine--a dad, two daughters, and one daughter's son--picked me up for an afternoon together. We had lunch at Rancho Chico and then went to visit their aunt, who lives near by. The big occasion for visiting was so the aunt could meet my friend's four-month-old son. The aunt lives alone, so we sat in her plain living room, drank peach tea with organic honey, and listened to her talk about various subjects--doctors, church, her son, organic food, and marriage all being among the topics.

One of the daughters is just 10 days older than me, so she had turned 25 the week before. The aunt asked her how old she was, and my friend answered.

"Twenty five!" The aunt said. "We have got to get you married. We have to find some nice man to snatch you up. We can't let you be an old maid."

Why not? I thought, rather peevishly. What's so bad about being an old maid? It's not a death sentence.

I've heard people express sentiments like this before, and though I'm still young enough to revel in my independence without regret, I always wonder what they dread will happen if I'm not paired up with someone post haste. It's not that these people are mean-spirited. On the contrary, it's not likely romance is even what they're hoping for when they wish for a spouse for a single person. Rather, they know that romantic love can give way to a life time of companionship and deep joy. I can understand that desire. I even wish it for myself often.

But, in the meantime, here I am. Single. Unattached. An old maid (depending on your standards). What's a girl to do? As the article says: "Romance is not the only kind of love that makes life worth living." Even in my limited experience of life, about to swell with another year, I've found this to be true. I've got a blessed number of friends and family and a God whose definition of love is constantly shattering the molds we squeeze it into. I have a feeling this year is going to be a wild ride. Hang onto your hats!

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