“I do not want to be in love,” said nobody ever.
Love is real. It is, unequivocally, the greatest desire of the human heart.
This is not news. It’s like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, “No way. That’s great! We landed on the moon!” news.
EVERYTHING we do is in direct correlation to our desire to love and be loved. You have heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon? You know the idea that everyone in Hollywood can be traced back to Kevin Bacon in six easy steps by the laws of separation? It is the same with our desire to be in love. I dare you to try this. Every memory, every joy, every sin, every shortcoming, every wound we carry can lead us back to our search for this desire in some way.
As sure as the sun is in the sky, we desire love.
As products of our generation, products of our culture and sons and daughters of God our Father, we do not just desire love itself, we desire to be in love. We desire relationship. We feel something is inherently broken if we are living life out on our own. This fact is true on many levels, but we are falling in love and waiting to fall in love the wrong way.
But who can blame us really?
“I love you. I am who I am because of you. You are every reason, every hope, and every dream I’ve ever had, and no matter what happens to us in the future, everyday we are together is the greatest day of my life. I will always be yours” (The Notebook). CUE THE RAIN.
“You. Complete. Me.” No, Jerry Maguire, you are a spaz.
“When love feels like magic, you call it destiny. When love has a sense of humor, you call it serendipity” (Serendipity). WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN, JOHN CUSACK!?!?
“I love you. You’re my only reason to stay alive… if that’s what I am” (Twilight). No need for snark… this speaks for itself.
We are in pursuit, looking, hoping, waiting for the things that will fill the void left in our heart. Even as good Christians, we can get caught in this pursuit. Praying novenas and looking for signs instead of seeking first the heart of Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, these are great things (I am in middle of a novena right now), but sometimes they can keep our eyes fixed on the idol instead of the real thing. We want to be that big, Catholic family that everyone whispers about in amazement at Mass. We want the 10-passenger vans, kids named after popes, and at least two vocations from our family. But before all of this, we need to want to be wanted by the God who created us to love and be loved.
Truly, our world is not complete if we are not in love because that is how we were made. These desires to follow the promptings on our hearts are there because our Lord put them there. Again, we are sons and daughters of God and we are created to be in relationship with Him. This is our first identity and our deepest longing.
But still, we look for serendipity (still not sure, Mr. Cusack) to fall into our lives. We pursue that one ideal who we just know will give us every reason, every hope, and every dream we have ever had. We look for the by-products of love instead of Love itself. We look for this love on our journey when God Himself is looking to be this love.
Listen to how our Lord speaks to us through the prophet Hosea:
“So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.” Hosea 2:14
You see, you and I, we have been doing it all wrong. We fall into the temptation of thinking that the responsibility is all on us and that a person will be the answer. Ever caught yourself thinking this or telling this to your friends… or your mom?
“I am in my 20s, I am not married yet, I probably never will be now. What is wrong with me?”
“Once I am settled, life will make sense.”
“Until I find my other half, I feel like my life is on hold.”
“Well, it is just me and my cat again tonight… what opportunity did I miss?”
We can let go of that. If we are living as women and men after the heart of God, we can let go. God is pursuing us! Like a lover, he beckons us, leads us into the desert (our most intimate place) and speaks to our hearts. What a relief! This great pursuit, our life’s mission to find the answer to the desire to love, is actually not just on us. We love because God loved us first. And not only does He love us, He is after us. He pursues us and never lets us out of His reach.
We just have to let Him.
But what is holding us back from being pursued by God? Trust? Not feeling worthy? Fear of surrender? Fear that He will not fulfill your deepest longings? Fear that maybe He isn’t our deepest longing?
I want to share with you a story that happened to someone very close to me. She gave me a look into God’s heart by sharing her story of love, longing and heartbreak. This young woman has been living and looking for answers to her heart’s deepest longings for years. She was on her own great pursuit and had looked everywhere, but mostly through relationships. Like many of us, she found her worth through the eyes of another. And like most of us, she had come to a point in her life where she was tired of the disappointment, tired of the wounds, tired from the pursuit. The walls that she put up started to come down and as she slowly opened her heart to let the Lord in, a flood came to cover her with the love she had been searching for. It happened one evening in prayer. In the chapel, the Lord spoke to her. Her is an excerpt of what He said:
I pray specifically for the vocation of marriage… I pray to be married to you, Jesus. I want you to ask me for my hand. I want you to be the first one I talk to when I wake up and the one to hold me as I fall asleep. I want to be pleasing to your eyes with how I sound, how I look, how I think and what I do for others. Like a doting wife, I want to brag about you to my friends and make my Father proud that I fell in love with the best man possible. I want to know you… really know you… know you like you have taken the time to know me. You have studied me, cherished me, formed me loved me through the best and worst of times, saw me as beautiful when I could only see ugliness. You complete me and you are all that I need and all that my heart desires. I am nothing without you. Love, you are mine. And I am yours. I promise to always love and honor you for as long as forever is.
Wow. What beauty. All the hurt, the wounds, disappointment were nothing compared to a heart filled with the love of God. The Lord pursued her, took her to the desert and won her heart.
What is holding us back from being pursued by God?
This is not just for the women reading as it may sound to some. Men, Jesus is after our heart. We seek to be acknowledged for our strength, for our leadership, for our manliness, but often times we look for that from the love of another. Do you ever notice how men act around women? All you need is three ingredients to test this theory: a group of women, a group of men and a football. They are making diving catches, prancing around like idiots and periodically glancing at the women to make sure they saw their awesome skills. Then, when they leave, they are putting Icy Hot on everything that moves.
“Until a man knows he is a man, he will spend all his time trying to prove that he is one.” Herein lies the explanation for why men act the way that they do. All too often we find our greatest worth in the pursuit – recognition, money, prestige, and especially the false sense of security that comes from conquest in relationship. Promiscuity, getting lost in our work, anger, pride… all these things make sense in light of this.
But men, Christ shows us a different way. Our identity lies in truly loving. How did Christ love? Sacrifice, courage, humility, service to least, dying to the things other men thought made them men and showing them the true way. Jesus made himself vulnerable to the love of the Father in his heart. He opened his heart in prayer and lived his life in the courage that God his Father was going to make him into the man he was created to be. We know that by following the pursuit of his Father, he was led to die naked on a Cross, whilst the whole world watched. But what happened? His courage, sacrifice, humility, service and death to self changed the world forever. Men, don’t hide. Step out from behind the pursuit. Hide only in the heart of the Father who wants your heart. You want to be a man? Live like Jesus, the greatest man that ever walked this earth.
I ask again, what is holding us back from being pursued by God? Trust? Not feeling worthy? Fear of surrender? Fear that he will not fulfill your deepest longings? Fear that maybe He isn’t our deepest longing?
Today and every day, open our hearts. Open your hearts and let the Lord lead. TRUST that you are first and foremost a child of God. He wants nothing but an overflowing, joy-filled life for you like any Father should. Know that YOU ARE WORTHY of this kind of love. No matter what you have done, no matter where you are in life, God will pursue you. SURRENDER your wants and your desires to this same God and live in the freedom that truly will set you free. And lastly, DO NOT FEAR. The Lord will fulfill your deepest longings for love because He is your deepest longing for love. He will pursue you, lead you to the desert and speak to your heart.
Matt Faley works as the Director of Young Adult Ministry for the Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry (YACCM). Matt is an Illinois native who served as a Catholic missionary with FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students at the University of Illinois-Chicago before coming on at the Archdiocese. Whether it be through writing, singing or speaking Matt uses this platform in hopes to re-invigorate the Gospel for college students and young adults and anyone who will listen.
Check out Matt’s blog @ www.mattfaley.wordpress.com