I heard the new Justin Timberlake song on the radio the other day and it got me thinking about love.
I would not have even known it was the former boy-bander had the announcer not mentioned it. Timberlake really isn’t my type, which I am sure is a huge relief to his wife, actress Jessica Biel.
Don’t worry, Jess, I’m not interested in Mickey Mousing around with the former Mouseketeer.
It’s just that his song got me thinking.
Maybe it’s because I seldom listen to music in the car anymore since I enjoy the rare sound of silence so much more. Or, maybe it was the combination of the beautiful spring day and the right amount of coffee, but I was feeling philosophical about the pop song.
Timberlake was singing about love, and something about making some girl’s dream come true by loving her.
If it was Jess, he didn’t say so.
I think it went something like this: love, give it a chance, yadda, yadda, (optional gag,) and if you do he will make your dreams come true. This was set to a rhythmic beat that seemed too fast to slow dance to and too slow to fast dance to.
Maybe it’s folding towels kind of music.
Is that a genre?
Anyway, I guess it was the part about the dreams coming true that I was stuck on.
When I think of dreams, I think of sleep; glorious sleep.
But maybe that’s totally lame. (It probably is.)
So, I tried to be open-minded and think about what the heck Timberlake was crooning about.
Dreams and love… Hmm. Yeah, I just wasn’t feeling it.
I have been married for 16 years. We met when we were 14. (No, not in a commune – but in high school, which admittedly is in some ways similar.) Anyway, we didn’t date until after college so if you go by our dating years, it will be 20 years this summer that we have been together.
But those are just statistics, and numbers don’t mean anything when you are talking about love.
Still, whether it’s been 16 years or 20, I have never thought of my husband as my dream.
I don’t think this would devastate him either (but I will certainly ask before I post this).
He is my dearest friend. The person I count on more than anyone else. Someone I have been really mean to and really nice to (mostly nice); a person who has seen me at my best and at my worst (mostly somewhere in between the two); and I could go on. But this is not a Hallmark card and the intimacies of my marriage are just that.
Ultimately, he is a lot of amazing things and a partner in the truest since of the word, but he is not my dream.
Because I think that is a totally ridiculous sentiment! Seriously — it’s just gross.
I don’t mean to pick on Timberlake and because I am certain he quit reading this in paragraph two when I said he wasn’t my type, I don’t feel bad saying it’s ridiculous.
I know it’s a ballad and it’s entertainment.
But I think it’s a little bit of a problem when we envision romantic love as the end all, be all – the dream.
Thinking of love only as first kisses, long gazes and electric touches, it’s no wonder so many people become disenchanted with their spouses.
All of that is flirtatious and often fleeting.
I would also find it a little annoying if my husband gazed at me anyway. Either speak to me or go unload the dishwasher. Don’t just sit there and stare! Who does that?
And it’s not that I am not a romantic that I say all of this.
Long stares aside, I love those moments when your breath catches in your throat.
But it’s not sustainable. You would quite literally start to choke or gasp. Neither of which is particularly attractive.
Those moments are fun and they’re giddy. They sell books, movies and even, songs.
But, I think when we get too caught up in them we set unrealistic expectations in our relationships.
It sets everyone up to fail because it ignores a fundamental truth about love.
Love is messy.
I know they didn’t say that in Corinthians 13:4-13 which begins with “Love is patient, love is kind…” But maybe what’s inferred is that love is messy, so be patient; love is messy, so be kind…
Real love isn’t just romance. It is listening when you don’t feel like hearing. Love is accepting when you want change. Love is trusting. It is surrender. It is scary.
Add a mortgage and a couple of kids and it gets even scarier.
How come no one sings about that?
No, it’s not sexy but somehow, it’s kind of beautiful.
No one dreams about a sink full of dishes or a sinking feeling when you have different opinions or different approaches. No one dreams about taking care of someone when they are sick or struggling with feelings of indifference or apathy. No one dreams about the fights or the vulnerabilities they expose.
Love is beautiful because it’s so messy and it endures all the humanness, all the brokenness.
It’s beautiful because being willing to surrender takes a lot more courage sometimes than a fight.
It’s loving someone through moments, days or periods of time that for whatever reason feel like a nightmare.
When Jesus died on the cross for us, it was no dream.
It was a brutal reality. Yet, it was love.
It was the epitome and essence of love. It was sacrificial and unconditional.
Often our relationships with those we love require sacrifice. That’s the messy part, but arguably it’s the part that matters most. Knowing someone has seen the worst of you and still wants only the best for you, is pretty amazing.
I guess no one knows this better than Jesus. He sees us at worst, at our weakest and still, he remains.
Jesus deserved better than He got on the cross. I am not worthy of His love through anything I have done but through everything that He has done.
I can’t live up to His example or repay His sacrifice.
Still, I am humbled by that reality. And even though I may have to pick up my own cross seven times seventy times to show the people in my life genuine love. I would do it.
It’s far from a dream, but somehow it’s music to my ears – the kind I actually feel like I can dance to.