I confess: I used to read romance novels. Lots of them. I’d check one out of the library, read it, return it, and get the next one on the shelf. I especially enjoyed a series – by the end of it, I felt like the characters were family.
It didn’t matter if they were set in medieval times, modern times, or any time in between – I’d read them. I enjoyed each one, and yet they were all the same. There was usually a poor girl and a wealthy man – she would fall for him – he would pursue her – and they would live happily ever after; true love wins.
But, wait – isn’t that the story of Cinderella? Isn’t that the storyline of the latest best selling romance novel? How did we get from Cinderella to Shades of Grey? How did we move from glass slippers to – well – you know?
Didn’t it used to be that every girl wanted a knight in shining armor; someone who would fight for her rather than oppress her? Someone who would pursue her, not overpower her. Someone who would cherish her, not use her. Someone who would look out for her, not mislead her? Someone who would court her, not stalk her. Someone who would protect her, not dominate her. Don’t girls still want that?
I think every woman wants to be loved; and wants to be loved as God defines love.
We may get drawn into the love stories of romance novelists, but they are not the truth. When we read those novels, we get an idea of romantic love that is not real and cannot become real. That’s why it is called fiction.
Ask yourself – does the picture of love that the romance author writes about align with the picture of love that God writes about? God gives us a clear picture of love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
God’s description of love is a verb more than it is an emotion. Love is something that is done and often when there is nothing that is felt. Love works. Love chooses. Love gives the benefit of the doubt. Love is what we do when we lift up another person higher than we lift up ourselves.
We will not find true love in romance novels whether there’s a bustier, a bare chest, an Amish bonnet, or a tailored suit and tie on the cover. What we find there are other people’s ideals of what love should look and/or feel like.
True love is only found in true relationships. Relationships where forgiveness is offered when sins are confessed. Where patience with one another is a goal. Where kindness is a mindset that is revealed through actions. Where envy is cast aside. Where boasting is in one another, not at the expense of the other. Where pride and ego take the back seat. Where no one deliberately dishonors the other. Where lifting the other person up is more important than self-seeking desires. Where anger is quickly doused. Where wrongs are forgotten rather than recorded. Where truth prevails. Where priorities of protection and trust prevail.
Because God is love, it is impossible to have a true-love relationship that is built on anything other than God.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for loves comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:7
The love God speaks of is the love God defines. It does not subjugate, dominate, enslave, hurt, oppress, coerce, or humiliate another person. True love is worth waiting for. True loves is worth protecting. True love is worth nurturing.
It took me a long time to realize that romance novels are a lie; they are harmful to ourselves and to our relationships. What we put into our minds is our choice. We don’t have to buy into the lie.
Are you putting into your heart and mind ideas of true love or false images and lies? Whether you are married or single this Valentine’s Day, how will you celebrate true love? How will you express true love to the people whom you love?
Click here for more information on Marcia’s Devotional, 365 Days of Grace
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7 thoughts on “True Love!”
One day at a time. We walk the talk.
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Couldn’t have been said any better Marcia!!! Happy Valentine’s Day
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Wow….sending this out to a few young gals who mentioned they are going to this movie. Thank you for being a strong voice in our lives!
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As an author of romance novels, I have to respectfully disagree with the statement that you will not find true love in a romance novel. Yes, there was a time when the wealthy man/poor girl pairing was the norm, and yes, there are books that feature a lot of relationship dynamics (including ones that I would never choose for myself). Yes, those books are still around, but they are not all that’s out there by any means. I, and the majority of romance writers I know, focus on creating precisely the kind of relationships that are based on patience, forgiveness, understanding, and mutual support. My characters may be in complex situations, but they find that the way through those situations is with the help and respect of the one they’re growing to love. My books, and those of most of my dearest writer friends, are about characters who take chances and make choices. Sometimes they are the right ones. Sometimes they are the wrong ones. Sometimes those choices will test and strain a budding relationship, but the romance novels I read and write, the couple will come to realize that we are all human, we all mess up at times, and that true love means understanding and forgiving and working together to be better.
A good romance novel isn’t about the pursuit of love or having sex or fleeing a villain. A good romance novel is about a character who finds someone who sees past the baggage and masks we all wear, who sees the truth of who the character could be, and helps that character reach his or her potential. The true goal is growth. Love is the delivery mechanism.
Thank you for sharing your perspective. Unfortunately, I believe that romance novels set real relationships up for failure. No one can live up to the super men/women presented on the pages, and I think readers grow frustrated with their real life spouse/boyfriend, girlfriend for not living up to the ideal defined by ink on paper. I think we will have to agree to disagree on this, but thank you for your comments.