One of my favorite songs – particularly the arrangement by Chris Botti – is “When I Fall In Love”. The beauty and the heart behind the melody are simply romantic…No other way to describe it.
Falling in love in the real world? Well, that’s not always as beautiful an experience. Infatuation? That can damage the heart more than we know.
“The moon is a magnet
Everyone’s at it
Everyone’s had it
Love is a sadness
Love is a madness
We are the addicts
What are we if we’re not in love?
What are we if we’re not in love?
These are the cages
A kiss is contagious
It’ll betray us all
A kiss’ll betray us all”
- – Jon Foreman, “The Moon Is A Magnet”
I’m married to the most beautiful girl in the world and falling in love with her was incredibly easy…But my experience pursuing relationships was difficult and frustrating before we met. Infatuation was normally confused with “love”, causing insecurity and feelings of rejection to build.
Awkward was probably the best way to describe my attempts at asking a girl on a date, particularly during college. In high school, I had an incredible infatuation with a girl named Angela, but I only talked to her once…In the hallway between class. The conversation went something like this:
We kept walking our separate ways.
I was a great conversationalist back in the day. Girls loved me, especially my sense in style, Wal-Mart Faded Glory shirts and all. I was awesome.
Angela was a cheerleader. In 10th grade I played on the junior varsity basketball team, hoping she’d see me and be like, “That guy is such an incredible basketball player! So hot!” But that day never arrived. Instead, our long conversation in the hallway was the end of our relationship.
Infatuation can consume you. I didn’t even know this girl, but she was constantly on my mind…I guess it’s a high school curse. Ah, young love…Or whatever.
Then came college. Rejection, rejection, rejection. I attended Liberty University, which happens to be a private Christian university in Virginia. A popular saying around campus was “ring before spring”, referring specifically about how many girls were at Liberty to meet a “good Christian husband”. The degree was simply an added bonus, I suppose. I’ll never forget a girl once telling me, “Andrew, I really like you and I feel like you are the perfect guy for me, except…I want to marry a pastor.” She married a pastor. Surprise.
In Los Angeles, the script was the same. For a very short period of time I “dated” a girl who practically spent all of my money, knowing I had next to nothing. We once went to California Pizza Kitchen to meet some friends, but I only had $20 to my name and she knew this. She spent $17 of it. I got a bowl of broth soup for $2.50. Great gal. That didn’t last very long…She didn’t eat dairy due to her personal beliefs about dairy farmers, so that wouldn’t have worked out, anyway…I love ice cream way too much.
I returned to Charlotte, got a job at Starbucks, and didn’t really look for a relationship. Attractive prospects would walk in occasionally, but when I got to know them after periodical conversations, I wasn’t impressed with their character…I had spent enough time infatuated with surface-level girls to know that road held no lasting potential.
Then my wife walked in. Something was different about this gorgeous babe. Her heart was sincere, she was beautiful, she followed Jesus, and she loved coffee. Match made in heaven!
Yet, what is fascinating about the journey from infatuation to authentic love is that it is so easy to confuse one with the other. Infatuation “falls in love” with the idea of someone; authentic love requires two people heading in the same direction, investing in each other with hope for a future together. That is simply not as easy as being in love with the idea of someone, but holds much greater reward.
If you’re single and you long for a lasting, meaningful relationship, don’t fall for the lie that you’re incomplete until you have your life partner. That simply isn’t true, nor will you be completed once that person comes into your life. My wife is an incredible partner to journey with in life, but she is not always able to satisfy the deepest longings of my soul…Only Jesus has that power.
Without my 27 years of being single I would have never known the dark nights where I cried myself into the scars of Jesus, begging for Him to hold me. My experiences in college and Los Angeles would not have taught me what it is to experience great loneliness, especially the art of going to movies alone…I had that one down pretty fast.
You are enough. No one will ever complete you outside of Jesus Christ. Longing for a relationship? That’s wonderful! Desperate for a relationship? That’s tragic.
If you are married, I hope you are daily investing in your spouse, as well as seeking God individually, growing in His identity for your life.
If you are single, I hope you continue to seek after your identity in Jesus, never settle for someone who lacks strong character, and don’t allow infatuation to steal your attention from what matters most: love.
At the end of our lives, the relationship that will be of utmost importance is our relationship with the lover of our souls: Jesus, Emmanuel (translation: God with us). I hope you are falling in love with Him…He has always been in love with you.