Love Story: Real or Trouble
By Jackie Francois
I usually open up my girls’ sessions with having all the girls sing Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” For the last five years, girls from 6-12th grade have all excitedly sung this song with a deafening loudness that Andrea Bocelli could hear from Italy. I know that this song speaks to a woman’s heart, which longs to be pursued and loved. Clearly, it was one of the top 10 most downloaded songs of all time. But fast forward 5 years to Taylor Swift’s song “Trouble.” A far cry from a love story, Taylor sings of the heartbreak that comes from giving herself away to a guy who never really even loved her. Even the music videos of the two songs are complete opposite in their aesthetic: one shows a princess being swept off her feet. The other shows a disheveled and lost girl in a wasteland of despair.
Recently, I read that those who believe in the idea of a “soulmate” are 150% more likely to get divorced. I have also read numerous blogs by Catholic authors that talk about marriage as if it’s some cold, romance-less arrangement.
All this doesn’t bode well for me, the romantic who believes in a “soul-mate,” with whom I will have a beautiful love story.
So what are we to think? Does believing in the idea of a “love story” determine that we’ll end up with a “troubled story”? Does believing in a “soulmate” mean you’ll get divorced? Are all of us who call ourselves “romantics” doomed for heartbreak and heartache?
Well, it depends on your idea of a love story.
If you choose to believe that love is a mere feeling and whoever makes you feel all gushy all the time is “the one,” or that sex is the foundation of a relationship and thus you need to “test-drive” a person before committing, or that your “soul mate” will be your “everything” and fully complete all the desires of your heart, you got a heartache comin’ (and maybe a really great country song).
If, on the other hand, you believe that Eros-love (passionate love) is beautiful and necessary, but needs to be purified and caught up in Agape-love (God’s sacrificial, unconditional love), that sex is beautiful and a gift of self belonging in marriage alone, requiring great sacrifice in chastity, and that Jesus is the Bridegroom who alone satisfies every longing of your heart, you are in a good place. (It helps immensely if your significant other believes this, too.)
God, who is the biggest romantic of all time with the greatest love story ever told (the Bible), has an amazing love story for you. Is His love story all bunnies and roses? Nope! Just as His love story for humanity needed the agony of Good Friday to get to the ecstasy of Easter Sunday, His love story for us will also be filled with times of suffering and times of romance, times of painful sacrifice and times of blissful happiness, times of heart-wrenching loss and times of life-giving love. An amazing man of God told me that, “in marriage, the highs are higher and the lows are lower.” Why? Because contrary to what the world teaches (that unabashed hedonism will bring you happiness), we know that it is through God’s unconditional love that we will experience true peace and joy. It is through loving someone in their weaknesses, fears, hurt, brokenness, pride, and sin that makes those moments of romance all the better. When my beloved shows me his faults or his vulnerability, I don’t run–in fact, I love him even more. Thus, when we share beautiful moments of romance like dancing in the rain, or surprising each other with love notes, we both know it’s a sign of our deep love for each other–a love that is more than a feeling; a love that is rooted in Christ and loves the whole person, not just the pleasure we can give.
I knew my fiancé, Bobby Angel, was the “one” or my “soulmate,” because there was an overwhelming sense of God’s peace and joy in our relationship. Not only am I passionately attracted and in love with his body, heart, and soul, but I am in love with him in the good times and the bad. I love him whether we are in tears from laughter and beauty, or tears from pain and loss. I love him as my brother in Christ, my friend, and the love of my life.
I’m not worried about our love story becoming a “troubled” story. While Bobby and I are the biggest “romantics” who believe in a “soulmate” given as a gift to us from God, our love story won’t be from the pipes of Taylor Swift, but straight from the heart of God. As I walk down that aisle toward Bobby on August 10, 2013, he will be right under the crucifix, the ultimate act of love. Our marriage will not only have great romantic passion, but it will have THE passion–the passion of Christ, reminding us that to truly love, we must lay down our lives for one another as Christ layed His life down for us.