Monday, February 1, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Romance


Real Love in Today’s Romance-Hyped Culture
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

A good romance book or movie can be a great escape, a fun read, even a spiritual encouragement. But sometimes, our culture’s portrayal of romance can poison our expectations of what real, lasting love is and how to achieve it.

As someone who used to be teased as a teen for being “in love with the idea of love,” I’m definitely a romantic at heart. I adore love stories, and I absolutely adore my husband.

But trouble often arises when I compare my life or my wants with what’s depicted in movies, books, or social media. The “comparison game” sets so many of us up for failure, not only in romance, but in life generally. We look at what someone else appears to have, or the way movie couples interact, and think, “Why don’t I have this, too? Am I not good enough?”

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul reminds us, “Each person should test their own work and be happy with doing a good job and not compare themselves with others” (Galatians 6:4 CEB). It’s the same when it comes to love. My romantic relationship with my husband is not the same as someone else’s (nor should it be!). What I find romantic might be far different from what you do, and what my husband responds to might be different, too. That’s a good thing, for we are all different!

Over the years, I’ve wised up to some myths about love:

Myth one: Romantic movies and books convince me my true love will ask me out on a date. But in real life, I’ve found a lot of guys don’t do this. They’re nervous, scared the girl will reject them or that she doesn’t have “those” kinds of feelings for them, so they don’t. They just fumble along, throwing out hints that may or may not work out. Sometimes, the girl is the one who does the asking. And that can be romantic, too!

Myth two: Romance just falls in your lap.

Romantic movies or books often depict two people who are not looking for love, but they happen to collide and then explosive romantic sparks force them to acknowledge their feelings for each other. But in my experience, most couples are seeking to find someone to love. They smile at or cultivate a friendship with someone they find attractive. They ask their friends if they know someone eligible, and they go on dates. At the very least, they put themselves out in the world to make friends and have fun doing things they are interested in, whether that’s rock climbing or hanging out sipping coffee at a bookstore.

Myth three: Relationships are easy.

They are not! They take work. Men and women are different, and we can’t read each other’s minds. The best relationships start out between friends, and they offer lots of grace, humor, and forgiveness. For me, mind games have always been a deal-breaker. And if there’s an issue or conflict, gently addressing it rather than burying it helps solve a lot of small problems before they become monstrous. Bottom line: feelings ebb and flow. Real love, as with any relationship, takes investment, time, and appreciation.

Myth four: Flowers show he loves you.

Sure, they do—but so does doing the dishes, tenderly taking your hand, or smiling at you at a red light. There’s not one key way to express love. The trick is noticing the little ways he tells you he adores you—and trying in turn to show the same (it’s not a one-way street!).

We need to remember: What we read or watch is fiction—and often, what we see on social media is fiction, too. People usually present the best version of themselves on social media, so even if they are not intentionally trying to be deceptive, we only see the “rosy” stuff and not the real-world daily grind.

Real love is beautiful, too, but it doesn’t always look the way it does in fiction. Sometimes it’s nursing your spouse through the flu or choosing not to fight when your loved one is a little snippy or grouchy.

This Valentine’s Day, whether you are in a romantic relationship or not, take the time to love the people in your world the best way you know how. Romantic love is not the only kind of love—far from it! Love well, love beautifully, and love with all your heart as generously and as extravagantly as you possibly can.

For, as Jesus told his disciples in John 13:34-35 (CEB), “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

Let’s Pray: Dear God, help us to keep our focus on You and understand that personal relationships are a gift from above. Help us to stop comparing, to stop looking to other sources for validation and understanding, but instead know that we are uniquely loved and that You have a plan for us that is special and right. Whatever our situation, help us to know we are loved and precious. Help us to look beyond culture and keep our sights upon You. In the holy Name of Your Son Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

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Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian journalist, author, blogger, editor, and devotional writer. For the last decade, she’s been the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 118 journalism awards during her tenure. 

She is the author of Feed My Sheep: A 40-Day Devotional to Develop a Heart for Hunger Ministry (2019) and More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), all from her newspaper’s Advocate Press.

She is a seasoned speaker and contributor to Crosswalk, Christianity.com, and the United Methodist News Service, among many others. She has a weekly faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com and is part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries.

Represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency, she is seeking a publishing contract for her two contemporary women’s fiction novels, The Memory Garden and Tangled Roots

The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis Award for Contemporary Fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers, and Tangled Roots placed in Contemporary Romance at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2019. 

Married, Brodie has four children and stepchildren and lives in Lexington, South Carolina.

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Connect with Jessica:
Website: https://www.jessicabrodie.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaJBrodie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjessicajbrodie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicajbrodie/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicajbrodie/
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14 comments:

  1. Good reminders to differentiate between truth and fiction.
    So sad at how that line is blurred these days.

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    1. Yes! I feel like I am constantly having this conversation with my teenaged kids.

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  2. Romance is hard. That won't be in the movies! Good job!

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  3. Wonderful post as Valentines Day looms. I agree that books and movies have distorted our thoughts about true love and the efforts it takes to make it work. Someone once told me that love is not sleeping together, it is waking up together to see each other at our worst ( bad hair, bad breath, etc). Thanks for reminding us to appreciate our true love.

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  4. Thanks for the wonderful reminder about true love. It is not easy like we see in books and movies. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Excellent, and so true that we must never attempt to measure our own relationships with what we see in books, on TV, or in the movies. Good relationships are those we invest our energy in. If we don't invest, maybe we don't deserve any better.

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  6. Jessica, great piece and good job at debunking our myths about real love. So many of us have to realize fairy tales are just that, "tales."

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