Wednesday, July 18, 2012
By: M. Wittmer
Olivia Wilde is a film star who divorced her Italian prince because their marriage was requiring more effort and returning less fun. “I don’t think love should be work,” the actress told an interviewer, “My parents have been married for 35 years. They said, ‘You have to work at it. That’s what it takes.’ But we tried, and it wasn’t making us happy.”
Olivia’s comments reflect a misunderstanding of both the meaning and the motivation of love. It appears she believes love is nothing more than a feeling. Worse, she infers that the purpose of love is to please ourselves, not others. She suggests that love exists to make us happy, and that if we’re not happy we’re no longer in love.
Olivia believes her problem is as follows: “I’m a ridiculous romantic. I have very high standards for every part of life—my work, my relationships, food, love. I can’t just pretend.” Actually, her standards aren’t too high—they’re too low. I hope one day she finds the fullness of love that Jesus offers.
The apostle John declares that true love was most clearly revealed on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice proves that love isn’t a feeling, unless you count the feeling of despair that welled up in His cry, “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” (Mark 15:34). Love doesn’t seek its own happiness, but requires that we sacrifice for one another. Paul explains that “love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7). In other words it often feels a lot like work.
Love isn’t guaranteed to bring us happiness, but it is guaranteed to hurt. C. S. Lewis wrote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.”
Love anyway. It’s worth the hurt.