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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The World's Great Love Stories

We live so much of our lives in search of fantasy.

Sure, not so many people actually read fairy tales any longer, but Disney and Hollywood keep re-playing them, sometimes with a modern tweak here or there. But the stories have a sameness.

Someone is alone. Someone else is alone. Sometimes someone or something is standing in the way. In the tragedies, the love is unrequited or the obstacle is too great and the lovers die young. In the more common "happily ever after," the obstacle is overcome and best friends live a long life together, mutually satisfying one another and enjoying one another all their days. The "spouse as best friend" picture has emerged as our modern-day fairy tale. The story we all want to claim for our own. The only one that will satisfy.

It's cozy and comfortable and yes, very desireable. And if my path were always my own to plan and navigate, it's the story I'm sure I would choose.

But is it really the greatest love story of all time?

Decades ago, a book was written called The Greatest Story Ever Told. I think it was written by a Catholic about the life and death of Christ. I didn't read the book--it was of my parents' age--but I can certainly agree that the greatest story ever told is a love story, the story of a God betrayed, who refused to stop loving, and so came to redeem, and was betrayed again, to death, and still refused to stop loving, and is coming again to renew and completely regenerate absolutely everything. That's not a fairy tale. It's not a tragedy. And it's not as simple as a life-long buddy-ship either, though "best friends forever" takes on a different meaning when eternity AND the actual power to secure it are concerned.

So humanly speaking, I have to wonder about our standards for what makes the best love stories. Maybe the greatest human love stories are not the ones that never suffer at one another's hands, that never know deep trouble and hardship and the infliction of pain and betrayal. Maybe the truly great love stories are the ones that make it through that, despite never being best buds, never having the first reaction to give of oneself sacrificially for the other, never ride off into the sunset, never manage to be so perfect as to live freely independent of the support of others who encourage toward the good.

Maybe the greatest love stories are the ones that survive the thorns and the nails and the spears that come from within the relationship and not just from without, and show instead a reflection of the Greatest Story Ever Told. That stand and endure in the shadow cast by the gruesome tool of execution and the blood that flowed from it, to cover and allow for and make sense of innocence accepting pain and betrayal and wounds that may always be evident, even into eternity and glorification.

Maybe we've got it all wrong.


Anonymous said...

oh Rebecca, that is so wonderful. Thank you for reminding me there is a bigger picture and my sad little life (from my perspective at times) does matter in bigger ways. That my decisions to obey or not have a bigger impact than just on me, not because I am any great thing, but because God so ordained things to work that way through His love and Grace. May God continue to bless and use you as well. ~Janice~

Tammi T. said...

Love this post. Thanks for a great reminder of what true love is. I Corinthians 13, John 3:16