Okay, don't be weirded out. I'm not going to write anything that will make you uncomfortable (I hope). But for awhile, I've wanted to reflect on what I've learned about love -- specifically, romantic love. We've only been married for a year (on July 21), and so I still have A LOT to learn, but I think God has taught me a lot from teenage crushes to serious dating to marriage. I've been thinking about it again, since I was recently asked about my opinion on teenage dating, which brought back lots of memories of youth ministry, where this question was, and will always be the #1 most frequently asked question. There's two things that I'm pretty sure will be part of youth ministry forever: crazy, goofy, chubby-bunny-like games and dating questions.
There's too much to reflect on in one post, so I'll just start with my experiences in college. I have to admit I was pretty much on the look out for a future wife in college. I went to a Christian college, and I figured if I was going to find a suitable wife, what better place? For about two years of college, I was infatuated with one girl. In my mind, she was perfect. But looking back, I'm pretty sure I was really only attracted to her physically. But that one aspect clouded my mind so much, that I truly believed that she was nearly perfect in every way. I was infatuated but not very brave. I did manage to spend as much time with her as possible, all the while never expressing my feelings. I would define this as the ever-so-popular "let's hang out alot one on one but, we're not dating" stage. For me, this was basically an excuse to be a wuss: toy with the other person's emotions as much as possible to get what you want without taking any risks. Fortunately, I had roommates who couldn't put up with my non-action any more, so eventually they encouraged me to ask her to this big formal ball-type thing we did at Wheaton (long story...but it's basically a dance without dancing. Insert joke here.) And by "encourage", I mean that they actually dialed the number on the phone and gave it to me. But in any case, after that triumphant experience, I was convinced that I had to "take it to the next level", which, in our Wheaton subculture, meant having the "define-the-relationship" talk. Long story short, though I nearly attempted this talk, I aborted it because I found out second-hand that she was not interested in me "that way."
I was pretty devastated after that. I remember very distinctly sitting in my apartment in the middle of the night, wanting very badly to get as far away as possible from Wheaton. I wanted to take a train going anywhere. I wasn't even rejected face to face, but the sting felt like the worst rejection I've ever experienced. It wasn't just that I didn't get the girl, it was a deep, gnawing sense of worthlessness. I wasn't good enough for her...maybe I'm not good enough for anybody. I had such high hopes and I had a plan: fall in love and get married. With my hopes dashed, I felt like I was relegated to being a second-class citizen. Still never dated. What a loser. What's wrong with me? Looking for something that could help ease the pain, I popped in a Matt Redman cd. The words from "The Father's Song" seemed to be directed straight at me.
I have heard so many songs, Listened to a thousand tongues, But there is one, That sounds above them all...The Father’s song, The Father’s love, You sung it over me and for eternity, It’s written on my heart... Heaven’s perfect melody, The Creator’s symphony, You are singing over me, The Father’s song...Heaven’s perfect mystery, The king of love has sent for me, And now you’re singing over me, The Father’s song.
The song is based on Zephaniah 3:17, which is part of a prophesy of how God will redeem his people: The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. In that moment, I felt God's gentle song of love over me. It was as if he was saying, "don't you see? What your soul is longing for, what it craves...only I can give it to you. Hear my song. I'm singing it over you." In the cross, God substituted himself for me. Not because I deserve it, or because I'm "worthy." But because I'm worthless, because I'm faulty, inadequate, and cowardly, he sent his perfect son in my place so that I could be his child. So that his perfection and status could be mine. So that the God of the universe, my creator, who knows all of my hidden flaws could call me his beloved, accepted child. There is now no condemnation. How could I chase after the approval of a girl to validate me? How could I chase after the approval of the world to validate whether I was a "loser" or not? And how could I chase after marriage as the all-encompassing goal of my life?
I have heard so many songs, but there is one that sounds above them all.