nothing is greater than this


Maybe it's because I've been receiving a landslide of (much appreciated) wedding/marriage advice lately, or maybe it's due in part to the horrible understanding of love and commitment in today's mainstream consciousness ('The Bachelor's' Jake & Vienna, anyone?) but I've been thinking a lot about the role of love in relationships. Of course, we've all heard, and at some point undoubtedly championed the ubiquitous Beatles adage "Love is all you need," swayed along to Nat King Coles "L-O-V-E" at a wedding or five, and secretly let a few tears slip into our tissues at the end of countless Romantic Comedies when the protagonist male makes his grand gesture of affection towards the leading lady. But are these sugar-encrusted representations of "what love is" affecting the way we approach relationships and marriage?

While I'm not discrediting the importance of love and romance AT ALL (or trying to downplay cultural icons like the Fab Four, for that matter) I don't think it's far from the truth to say that many people today, particularly of my generation, have a very jaded outlook on relationships and marriage. We've undoubtedly all seen the classic signs: meet someone, fall into a starry-eyed frenzy brought on by first dates and sweaty hand-holding at the movies, claim to be uninhibitedly enamored, and then, when the cherubs no longer sing each time you embrace, chalk it up to the relationship having "lost its spark." Now, I'm not saying people should stay with someone totally wrong for them just to prove that a relationship can survive without genuine affection or attraction to someone. What I am saying, is that this fictitious "spark" is where many people founder in their notions of what a lifetime should be built upon.

Remember when I said I wasn't discrediting all lovey-dovey wedding songs and mindlessly entertaining Romantic Comedies? I'll prove it. There is one particular line from the movie He's Just Not That Into You (I know, I know...the benchmark of RomComs...but stay with me) that illustrates what I'm trying to get across: "Guys invented the 'spark' so that they could not call, and treat you kind of bad, and keep you guessing, and they convince you that that anxiety and that fear that they're throwing at you is actually, just a 'spark.' And you guys all buy it. You eat it up. And you love it. You love it because you feed off that drama. You all love that drama." (*disclaimer--I am not placing all the blame of the whole 'spark' notion exclusively on one gender) I think more than anything, this quote highlights the problem with trying to build something lasting on the misconception of relationships as a constant fireworks display of romance and the idea that if there isn't a continual push-and-pull of emotions and overwhelming feelings, that it's fizzled out for good. If there's not that drama, that "fight-and-make-up" mentality, many people (to be perfectly honest) seem to get bored and move on. I think  because so many of us have this idea that things should always be exciting, stay interesting, etc. etc., that if there isn't a constant exchange of emotions, extreme or otherwise, we think the relationship has fallen into complacency, or "a rut."

When it comes to the concept of love, I don't think it should necessarily be categorized as an emotion or even compartmentalized into sets of emotions. Emotions are, of course, completely necessary--they're feelings that allow us to gauge our reactions, understandings, approaches, and outlooks towards people and situations--but emotions fluctuate. Love, in its truest form, is a constant, unseen presence--an amalgamation of God's principles of character, respect, and grace. If we look at the untouchable gold standard of what love really is, compared to what love is commonly understood as today, it's easy to see why so many things can go haywire from the very start. Today's definition of love may read something like this: "Love is chocolate and roses. Love is continual grand gestures. Love is a roller coaster of emotions. Love is butterflies in my tummy. Love is beach photographs in matching khaki-and-white ensembles. Love is a Facebook relationship update." Compare that to this: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."

Consider this passage by St. Augustine:

 Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away. Love itself--patience, kindness, grace, respect, compassion, and affection--is what we should all strive for. THIS is what relationships and lifetimes should be built upon, because when the rose petals whither and the jewelry tarnishes, what will be left over? Genuine commitment takes courage and patience. One of my favorite Patty Griffin songs elucidates this with these lyrics:

But if you break down
I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy

I'll be there when you need me. I'll never let you forget my love. I'll stand by you always. That's what love is. 

I recently discovered this song by Brandon Heath which has to be the most beautiful expression of what love truly means, and how God's demonstration of this love serves as the perfect example for us all. Enjoy:


  1. I really like this post, Hat! It really mirrors many of my thoughts lately, but your talent for writing makes it sound so much better than the mish mash of ideas in my head :) I'm sure guilty of looking for that RomCom romance and being totally disappointed when the "spark" wears off and the laugh track fades. I love that Brandon Heath song and it definitely puts into prespective how tainted our idea of "Love" is. Thanks for the little reminder!


  2. Hattie, what an amazing and inspiring post. I love it! You are the first person I come across who managed to put my thoughts over the past few years into words...made my day:).

    Stay blessed.

    Best wishes,

  3. Hattie, happy new year! You were my inspiration to finally start my own blog, I hope I can keep up with it. I really would like to know if you are on facebook or elsewhere so I can contact you even better...