September 18, 2018
Netflix released yet another chick flick last August that took the world by storm and got not just teenage girls but even grown men and women falling over in romantic excitement.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a romantic comedy film based on a 2014 romance novel by American author Jenny Han.
I’m not gonna lie. When I first heard the title, I already knew that it would be one of the typical stories of love and romance. For the sake of those who have yet to watch it, don’t worry, I won’t spoil much. But this is basically how the plot goes.
Lara Jean, a 16-year-old high school student, wrote love letters to all her secret crushes that somehow ended up being mailed to them. Lara Jean then made a deal with one of these guys, Peter Kavinsky, to be in a pretend relationship that eventually evolved into something more. An issue came up and then got resolved in a manner that would drive an “Awww, cute!” out of the audience.
Simple and predictable, right? Yet the scene from the movie that resonated with me the most was when Lara Jean said that falling in love was a scary thing.
To be honest, I think that was the most human aspect of her character. Most of us, whether consciously or not, have built our own set of expectations when it comes to love and relationships, greatly influenced by Hollywood and the media. As we grow older, however, these expectations change, and we no longer anticipate love coming in the form of a handsome prince or a beautiful princess the way we did as kids.
Our ideals about relationships are eventually confronted with reality. People hurt you. Loved ones let you down. Friends disappoint you. In the end, we are afraid and too exhausted to keep on loving. It’s so easy to just sit down and call it quits. Days and nights come when you can’t help but feel like it’ll be better to shut everyone out; to hide your heart and vow to never give it away again.
I remember ranting to a friend of mine about this—about how exhausting it is to continually show love and grace to people. On and on I went about how loving always leaves you in pain. In the midst of all my anger and hurt, my friend interrupted me and told me, “But that’s not what love is, Nicole.”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really understand at first. My initial reaction was that of sarcasm and unbelief. I thought, “If love isn’t the one causing us pain, then what is?” I had yet to realize that I was thinking of love in the wrong way. The truth is, I had allowed myself to fall deeply into bitterness because of the times that my hopes and expectations were not met.
A few nights ago, I stumbled upon a note that the same friend had written at the back of my journal. Out of everything she had put there, this is what stuck with me:
“It’s not love that’s breaking your heart.”
I then realized how my bitter reaction had already spoken for itself. We often think it is love responsible for every heartbreak, but it’s the complete opposite.
It’s not love that weighs you down; it’s unforgiveness resting upon your shoulders. It’s not love that makes your heart ache; it’s the bitterness and pain that you allowed to accumulate within it. It’s not love that destroys your ability to trust; it’s fear holding you back.
Love is not how people often see it: responsible for the pain and heartbreak they face. God did not design it that way. It’s time for us to throw away our broken definitions of love.
Choose to love . . .
. . . with no limits.
. . . with no conditions.
. . . without demanding or expecting anything in return.
Choose to love . . .
. . . even when it hurts.
. . . even when it’s unfair.
. . . even when it’s not reciprocated.
. . . graciously.
Choose to love like Jesus.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18
The media will always be there to feed us deceitful notions about love. But at the end of the day, the world’s various interpretations of love will fail to truly satisfy us. The Bible says there is no fear in love. Instead of responding in fear and dread, we must keep our hearts anchored in the unfailing love of the Savior. This will then overflow to the perfect love for one another that is from God. I wish someone had told Lara Jean that!
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7,8
(Photo credit: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3846674/mediaviewer/rm1569211648)