I have lost count of the number of romantic comedies that I have watched. I have spent many Saturday nights curled up on the couch, eyes as wide as saucers cooing at couples falling in love and in turn I had fallen in love with love. One of my favourite lovey dovey movies is 10 Things I Hate About You. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about a young man, played by the late Heath Ledger, who is paid to romance a hard-headed, “all-boys-are-dumb” kind of girl. He ends up really liking her. There are kisses and aching hearts and misunderstandings but it all works out in the end. There’s nothing like a happy ending to make you feel all fuzzy inside.
Other romcoms follow a similar pattern of “Now you love me, now you don’t”. In these stories things move fast but no one seems to mind. There’s something heart melting about watching two people declare their undying love for each other having met just five days ago. It leaves you with a marshmallowy feeling inside.
Watch enough romcoms and you will convince yourself that love can’t be found unless it comes in the form of a perfectly good-looking person who doesn’t have morning breath and thinks your wonderful all of the time.
Movies and television have given us lots of ideas about what love and romance are-and sadly most times it ends in disillusionment and dissatisfaction. We suffer amnesia and forget that God has and always had a plan for human love. The book of Genesis tells us that “for this reason a man shall leave his mother and father, be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”
Love does not always involve perfect people with perfect families and perfect lives. To put it simply, love ain’t nothing like it is in the movies. Jesus shows us that real love requires hard work, sacrifice and patience. Think of all the effort you put into your career, studies, cooking, pillow-fluffing etc. Love requires this same effort and nothing less. We’re all capable of this, more than we like to acknowledge. But perhaps we’ve seen too much, heard too much, experienced too much to dare to hope once more in love. Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve forged this idea in your mind of the perfect partner and have high expectations of his/her looks, salary, work status, you name it. You then feel angry or frustrated when that person doesn’t come sauntering into your life designer clothes and all. You’re then even angrier at Bridget Jones for having the suitors you want but can’t find.
So what do we do when the sunset fades and lovers have wandered off and the credits begin to roll? What do we do with that empty feeling and the sense that life is less than it should be? True love is thrown out of the equation because life has happened to us. It’s then much easier to take what we can get in whatever way we can from whoever will give it to us. We’ll even go as far as giving away our bodies but not our hearts in the hope that in doing so we’ll have fun with one and protect the other just like they do in Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached. As if to say to ourselves “Enjoy it while it lasts but don’t get too close”
Christopher West understands the brokenness that can be caused from experiencing the counterfeits of love. The well-known Catholic speaker on life, love and sexuality is all too familiar with it in his home country of the US. His knowledge of Pope St John Paul II’s Theology of The Body can help us to understand the meaning of real love and what its counterfeits are. His conference will be coming up in September. For more information check our website: tobsa.co.za