Three Lies, One True Love
From the time we're young, society feeds us a steady diet of lies: Find the right man and you'll be satisfied, attain the right figure and you'll be beautiful, wear the right clothes and you'll be accepted. So we try, only to discover there's still this quiet ache. Like a boat without an anchor, our hearts drift restlessly on a constant quest for fulfillment. And boy, does the world have a lot of suggestions for where we might find fulfillment.
I'm not much of a magazine reader, but a while back I picked up an old copy of Redbook lying around at my mom's house. I was thumbing through the magazine when I stumbled upon an article entitled "12 Things We Learned about Love in 2012." The list was nothing short of devastating, boosting the pornographic novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the male-strip-club movie Magic Mike.
Really? These are the things we learned about love? But the sad reality is yes, these are the tutors shaping the hearts and minds of countless women. And it's all counterfeit. We desire intimacy, and we're offered lust. We long for significance, and we're handed a J.Crew catalogue. We want a hero, and the world suggests Channing Tatum in his underwear. It's ridiculous, right?! Still, we fall for it over and over again.
The Lonely Lie
I cannot be content without a man.
This is such a painful lie because it likes to hold hands with thoughts like, If I'm not dating or married, something must be wrong with me. I would be happy if I could just meet the right guy! Doesn't God love me enough to send me someone?
Actually, He does. He loves you so much, He's longing to be your Someone. I'll admit, when I was single that sounded like a cop-out. (I get it, God's like my "Husband," but come on! I want a REAL husband!) Deep down, I believed God was a poor substitute for an earthly man. After all, that's what the lie tells us, right? Mr. Perfect from such-and-such chick flick is the answer to all our deepest longings! In reality, the exact opposite is true: Earthly men are poor substitutes for God. Let me give you an example.
In Ezekiel 16, God tells this crazy story about His love for Israel. It almost plays out like a movie: God passes by an abandoned baby who's been left to die in her own blood. (It gets better, I promise.) She's so unloved, no one has even cut her umbilical cord. But with great compassion, He rescues her. Under His care she flourishes, until one day she becomes a woman.
This time, when God passes by her, He marries her. He washes her, adorns her with silk and jewels, and covenants Himself to her. His love makes her stunningly beautiful—in fact, the Bible says her beauty is perfect because God has covered her with such splendor. But she turns her beauty toward other men. Over and over she plays the whore, until her jealous Husband is enraged. At last God says that though she has despised their covenant, He is going to make an everlasting covenant with her. He will atone for everything she has done, and when He does, it will change her heart.
Now that's a hero! Do you realize that in this one story God plays every role our hearts have ever longed for? We long for the compassion of a father, the ardor of a husband, the redemption of a Savior. And into this longing, God proves that He alone is a Father to the unwanted, a Husband to the unlovely, and a Savior to the unfaithful.
I promise there's not a man on the planet who can compete with that! Does that mean the path of singlehood is free from heartache? Certainly not. But if you are in Christ, it does mean you have Someone very special.
The Heartbroken Lie
A failed relationship makes me a failure.
This second lie that's especially devastating is one that glorifies happily-ever-after. How do we face the heart-shaped candy when the fairytale has dissolved into a nightmare? When the man who vowed to love us betrays us instead? When "forever" is disrupted with divorce papers and custody battles? How do we pick up the pieces when so much has been lost?
The world tells us to harden our hearts, to run to false refuges, to wrap our identity in our relationships. But God says our identity is wrapped firmly and forever around who He is and what He's done on our behalf. That means men don't define us. Failures don't define us. The cross of Jesus Christ defines us.
My beautiful friend, when the worst is upon you, you must cling to the cross like never before! Don't listen to the shallow love songs; listen to the One who binds up the brokenhearted and crowns the desolate with beauty instead of ashes (Isa. 61:1–3). He is writing a story larger than you can imagine, and He is the Hero who longs to meet you, even—and perhaps especially—in the messiest pages.
The Idolatrous Lie
My guy is all I will ever need!
Finally, we must take a quick stop in high school, where that guy with a teddy bear the size of Godzilla is declaring his undying love for the girl he's been dating since Tuesday. (Oh wait, look! Now he's slipping a promise ring on her finger!) The first time the idolatrous lie lands in our hearts, it actually feels euphoric: I finally found him! He's perfect! He's everything! He'll make me happy forever! But give it enough time, and this lie will always turn bitter: How could he fail me? Why is he disappointing me? Was it really supposed to be this hard?
Maybe you're the girl twirling an engagement ring around your finger with stars in your eyes. Or maybe you're the one carrying a screaming toddler and glaring at your husband's dirty socks with venom in your eyes. (I've been both!) Interestingly, these two girls need the same truth: A godly husband is a wonderful gift, but he makes a terrible god.
One of the most freeing choices I've ever made is to excuse my husband from being "God" in my life. I've chosen to journey alongside him toward the True Hero instead of pressuring him to be the true hero. To the world it sounds unromantic, but that's only because the world has missed the Great Love Story. Let's not make the same mistake.
The restless stirring in your heart and mine is not the need for a new pair of skinny jeans or a dashing young man or a cheap box of chocolates. It is our soul's soft reminder that we were made for Christ. It is our Savior's invitation to come and be satisfied.
By Jeanne Harrison