Every time there is an act of violence on the part of a young person the media goes nuts with cries of take the violent video games and movies away. The argument then begins between the two sides that claim that either what we visually and mentally ingest does or does not effect us. I lean more towards the argument that without the right balance a lot of negative ingestion of anything will effect you the wrong way, but I think that this can also be the case for things we call good as well.
Growing up I watched a lot of Disney movies which gave me a heavy dose of what I should think love is. My favorite princess was and still is Sleeping Beauty. Not because she was beautiful, or the fact that Prince Philip was the dreamiest prince, or that the fairies baked a mean cake, but because of the scene where Aurora innocently and naively prances through the forest singing with the animals. Can you say rewind, play, rewind? I’d sing my heart out with Aurora as a child. And Princess Jasmine, don’t even get me started on the hours I spent wishing I had long black hair and a size 10 inch waist. I’m pretty sure her proportions are off a wee bit, or maybe she got to the genie in the bottle before Aladdin. Belle had to be the classiest and smartest princess reading her books, trading places with her father, and resisting chauvinist Gaston’s advances. Albeit she may have needed glasses judging from how the Beast transformed from beastly animal form into Fabio, and that is not a compliment Fabio. I’m also pretty sure I still covet the Beast’s library room in the castle. What all these movies have in common is that they start with a tragic young woman figure who’s life is in the toilet in some way; marrying Jaffar, imprisoned to a cabin with fairies while an evil sorceress hunts you, trapped in a small town with no options and being held captive by a half man half animal. So hopeless until the right turn of events and the prince on the horse, magic carpet, or paws comes in to save the day. The princess’ life then turns from tragic and hopeless to those good feelings of love and they live happily ever after. The End. Such lies. There is nothing wrong with a feel-good love story but it’s really the message these movies and numerous other chick-flicks like it sent to me growing up. The message of you are nothing without a man, and love just happens and it works out all on it’s own.
I’m beginning to see now as a 28 year old woman that there are a lot of feelings or emotions that aren’t feelings or emotions at all, what they really are are choices. If you go off of the Disney version of love you will do what I did and get married and think that’s all that there is to it. According to Disney the hard part was over, I found my prince now we love each other, we are married and we can live happily ever after. Too bad it doesn’t work that way. Marriage and any relationship for that matter equals work. We can’t think that a few feel-good feelings are what is going to keep something as hard as a relationship alive. I think those feelings are what help get relationships going but after a while the mushy love feelings leave and daily life begins and some days you have to actually choose to love that person. You see that person at there absolute worst because you are there with them in the trenches of life working, raising a family, just doing the daily grind of life and it gets hard and every day is not a fairy tale. Don’t believe anyone who says it is.
Love is not the only choice you have to make, so is Joy. Sadly, some days you have to choose to be positive and happy about your life. Life is hard and ugly sometimes and I’d just like to push pause on my fairy tale. Since I can’t I have to be realistic about it. I can choose to let the problem I’m facing break me down and wallow in it forever, or I can choose to push on and persevere. Sorrow isn’t wrong and we can lament and cry and let the tears flow, we just don’t stay there forever. Sometimes choosing these things we call feelings is hard, and I may not feel them or even want to feel them. That’s when I turn to Jesus knowing that through Him I am capable of loving and giving to others in ways that I am incapable of on my own. He knows how hard life is because He came and lived it. Jesus can now stand and intercede to God for us in our times of pain and trouble.
I like what pastor Mark Driscoll says on choosing joy in suffering:
“Now, in saying that, some of you immediately think that that would be cruelty because you wrongly identified joy, the great theme of the Book (Philipians) with an emotion. And you can’t command anyone to have an emotion. You can’t walk up to someone who is suffering and say, “Feel happy.” It’s cruel. Likewise, conversely, you can’t walk up to a loving couple on the day of their wedding and say, “ Mourn.” They’re incapable. They can’t manufacture an emotion. And so, joy and Scripture is not an emotion. Were it an emotion, God couldn’t command us to do it. And Paul, here, illustrates the choice of rejoicing or having joy. Throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the Psalms, we’re told repeatedly, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice!” And so, joy is a choice. Joy is a lifestyle, and rejoicing is something that is possible in the midst of suffering. And it is not rejoicing that we are suffering. It is rejoicing that in our suffering there is a purpose that God would do something great in us and that God, in his grace, would so something great through us. That we would know and love and trust Jesus more, and that others would be compelled to become Christians and that Christians would be compelled to be better Christians and that our suffering would not be purposeless, that it would be purposeful. That we wouldn’t waste our hardship. That we would wouldn’t waste our tears. That we wouldn’t waste our pain. That we wouldn’t waste our poverty. That we wouldn’t waste our sickness, but that we would rejoice that in everything, there is an opportunity for Jesus to be made much of, both in me and through me.”
I don’t know how I feel about the word love anymore, but I do know that there is more to it than just some happy good feeling inside when a guy looks at you the right way. People won’t always treat you like they should, but you have to choose to love them anyway sometimes, and that is very hard.
I’ll leave you with the inspiring life of Charlotte Elliot and how she overcame bitterness and anger to find Joy.