Dear Generation Y,
Hear me out. In this world of modernization, we claim to know love by insisting on “marriage equality” all the while pushing for divorce and pre-nuptial agreements. We stay in a relationship until someone more interesting comes along. We think that sex before marriage is completely normal because, hello, we have to check the sexual compatibility.
Let me stop you right there. What’s your definition of love in the first place? I find it sad that so many people in relationships cry out, “understand me” “listen to me” “give me this” “pleasure me”, me me me me me. People these days enter a relationship based on what they can get – on how much the other puts out sexually, on how rich the person is, on how much fun they’ll experience while it lasts. We don’t look for partners who will walk out the rest of our lives with us, we look for people who set our hearts ablaze until the fire runs out. We ride along until the bursts of adventure turn into comfortable moments of mundane, then we go along looking for another person to give us the thrill yet again.
We enter relationships founded on chemistry, not trust. We enter relationships based on “similar interests”, not mutual beliefs and values. We want someone cool who’s good-looking and dresses well, not a beautiful soul who inspires us to be a better person. We want someone easy, not someone who knows her worth. We want someone perfect, not someone we can grow with. We want someone right now, not someone who is worth the wait. We want someone who’s “modern”, who believes in open relationships and one night stands and understands that there are other fish in the sea, not someone who believes in loyalty and building a life together.
Instead, the talk of commitment makes people balk. We laugh at couples who “take things too seriously” in their 20s. We tell children to “explore, but don’t invest too much because you’ll break up eventually.” We romanticize people who leave their homes so they can spend their life wandering from one place to another. We don’t believe in settling down. We believe in “options.” We believe in being “explorers.”
We have wider social circles than people ever did in any other generation. Yet we have less meaningful relationships than people did in any other generation as well. We know people based on their facebook wall and instagram account, not their history and personality. We think that a person’s value is dependent on how many friends they have and how many likes they get, not their identity.
We’re run by logic, you see. We’re practical. Getting to know another person’s depths is just too time-consuming and takes too much effort. We have to save the energy for our school and work. Relationships can take the back-burner because we have a career ladder to climb. Long-distance is just too difficult so we’d rather break up. We want what we want so we refuse to meet halfway and swallow our pride.The people we have relationships with should fit our schedule, anything less convenient and we cut them off. Apparently, material things and temporary gratifications matter more than people these days.
And you’re surprised the relationship didn’t work out? Love, to its core, has been about giving, never about receiving. Love is a commitment, a decision, not a fading emotion.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
We love movies where the girl comes up to the boy whose heart she has broken a million times over before, asking him to love her. We adore TV shows where the guy runs to the airport and while the girl turns him away, he is undeterred as he promises to still wait, to still hold on. We like stories where the guy is edgy yet respectful -a gentleman in all the right ways. We watch them over and over, wishing that that was our story.
But wait a second, are you sure you can have that as your story? Are you ready to love someone that much? Can you risk leaving your life behind and move to another continent to chase after the one you love? Are you willing to ignore other people vying for your attention as you wait 7 years for the one person you truly want? Do you believe in abstaining from physical intimacy so that the body you’ll give on your honeymoon night would have only been one with your spouse’s? Are you willing to give up certain goals you have for yourself because you know that you can build a better life together with the person you love? Can you open your heart like that and be completely vulnerable as you lay your love down for another person?
No. Because we’re too scared. We’re too guarded. We’re too selfish. We’re too embarassed by the thought of putting ourselves out there and getting turned down. We don’t want others to think of us as “old-fashioned” or “whipped.” But then, that just shows how we’re thinking of ourselves.
“Fear is always a killer. It doesn’t always look like ugly cowardly fear. Sometimes it looks like unforgiveness – when we don’t want to forgive because it may just happen again. Sometimes it looks like entitlement – when we want to hold back for ourselves just in case. Sometimes it looks like pride – when we think we’re better off.
Whatever it is, fear and love are like oil and water. If you want to hold on to your fears you’ll end up with your fears. If you want love, you have to be brave.”
There’s no such thing as loving with half of your heart, as the John Mayer song goes. No, love is all-in. I noticed that most regrets stem from the fact that one played things too safe, and so I have come to find that the greatest risk is not taking risks at all. At the end of my life, I’d rather have the ones I love beside me instead of newspaper clippings of me and stacks of money that won’t matter when I’m gone.
So I plead to you, don’t run and don’t hide your heart away. Love the way Christ loved you – wholeheartedly, patiently, deliberately, unconditionally. Love because you want to give, not because there’s something you want to receive. Love purely. Love no matter what it costs. Love until your graffitied walls have been peeled and the hidden canvas underneath has been uncovered. Love in a way that commits your entire life to one plan and one plan only – laying yourself down for this person. Love to the point that the word love feels insufficient anymore.
Love like it’s already the last chapter. Love like you’re sealing the letter.
Because that is the only way worth loving; that is the only way worth living.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (emphasis mine)
P.S. Please be secure of your identity in Christ first. Know who you are and who you commit to because loving selflessly even when it hurts and when it’s hard is different from being a masochist and a pushover; from giving yourself away because you’re insecure. Love because you’re filled with God’s unconditional love; anything less, you’ll lose yourself and you’ll run out eventually.