Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Gift-Giver

The first flower I ever received was a lone carnation. I went home one day after class and it was hanging on my doorknob.

I was confused. I thought it was a joke until the days passed and the identity of my gift-giver was revealed.

A single flower doesn't seem like much. As I see it now, I know the effort that placed that flower there was worth much more than its price.  It was the element of surprise and thought that made it special. He hoped I would be curious.  He hoped he would make me smile. He hoped that my answer in the end would be a yes. When I think of  the gifts I received from this person, that lone flower stands out because that first step took the most guts. 

This encounter, similar situations, and our current church series on love made me realize a few things about relationships.  I am no expert on love...far from it! But if you find some wisdom in what is written here, I pray that it will be a wisdom that comes from God.
Women are designed to be pursued and men are designed to pursue.  I loved being pursued. It made me feel even more beautiful. And I know he loved pursuing me. It made him want to best himself day after day.  If I had pursued him, I know I would have felt insecure about the relationship. Pursuit is a public act of courage for men.  It doesn't hide in the conveniences of "mutual understanding" or "friends with benefits". Call me a sexist, but I don't believe in men and women who say that it doesn't matter if it's the man or the woman who pursues.  I believe that men were designed for the adventure of pursuit. Unfortunately, some of them are content with the thrill of video games and action movies to fulfill this craving for adventure.  I also believe that women want to be pursued. Unfortunately, some of us lower our standards because we simply can't wait or we're pressured by society. 

The intention of pursuit must be clear.  If you're not being pursued with marriage in mind, then ask yourself, what is the pursuit for?  Are you willing to share your deepest desires, your grandest vision, and your divine calling with a person who doesn't think of you as forever?  Where would you be when you realize that after sharing yourself with this person, that person thinks of you as disposable?   

Friendship is the foundation.  Pursuit can consume us and make us blind to the faults of a person. But if you build on your friendship first, you'll enter pursuit with more wisdom.  You'll know that you're not pursuing and being pursued just because of physical attributes or common interests. You'll see how each other is with friends and family.  You can reflect if you can stomach waking up with this person day after day. You'll know if you can work together.  You'll know if you can decide to love and forgive even when faults have been revealed.

The pursuit is committed and exclusive. A man who is serious about you will pursue you and only you. He won't be pursuing other women while pursuing you. This is why friendship is all the more important. Friendship gives you time to develop this kind of  love that leads to marriage. This love has romantic attractions and desires; but it is also self-sacrificing, committed, responsible, and exclusive.

Jesus comes first. The bible says, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. It's you, him/her, and God. The thread that binds you together should be Jesus.  It's not enough that he/she believes in God. Even the devil knows the Lord. The question is, does this person actually have a relationship with the Jesus of the Bible? As Christians, our eyes should be fixed on Jesus. If your eyes are fixed on Jesus, and his/her eyes are fixed on something else, then how can it work out?  If someone is not for Jesus, then who is he/she for? Someone has to give to make the relationship work. Before you know it, you'll be compromising for the sake of "love".   Can you really be with someone who can't pray with you? What standards will you use to raise your children?
Men can have courage in the knowledge that they are the sons of the One who pursues us with abandon. They also have the courage to pursue. And we women, we can rest in the knowledge that we are loved no matter what.

As a woman, I had a tendency to feel ugly and unloved when I wasn't being pursued.  But this was until I realized that I am being pursued by the best Lover of all. Unlike other men, He is perfect. Unlike other men, He can complete me.  He told me, you were separated from me because of sin, but if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that I am Lord, then you will be saved. 

I can only decide to say yes, because Jesus pursued me first with utter abandon. He pursued me even while I was a sinner.  He wasn't turned off by my faults. Instead, He chose to forgive and tell me that I am being sanctified in His love. To prove His love for me and His hatred for everything that separates me from Him, He withstood shame and torture.  My first love gave me flowers to win me over. The One Who First Loved Me gave me the cross. 

What man can give you the same gift?  Only a man that is filled by the same Love. If he/she understands this like you do, you can be strengthened. You can be filled and refilled. You can be forgiving and patient and kind and humble.  Choose the One who pursues you everyday.  Choose the Ultimate Gift-Giver. Choose the Perfect Love.