Friday, June 22, 2012

What Happened Along the Way

Do you believe in Karma? I do.

I know that can be kind of weird for a Christian to say, even though it shouldn't be, but I do believe in Karma. I think that our actions, or our behaviors factor into what we get out of life.

I also think that our actions draw certain kinds of people to us.

Cause and effect.

I want to talk about relationships today. Not because I'm so great at them, but because I've been thinking a lot about what's gone wrong in this aspect of human life, and I need to puke these thoughts out of my mind. So here goes...

I've noticed that it's extremely hard for individuals to stay in a committed, monogamous relationship these days. Really. The divorce rate, I believe, is over 70% and not going down any time soon. Facebook relationship statuses change, almost daily, followed by months of brooding statuses until a new one comes along.

People don't seem to be able to get to know each other very well any more.

I hear all kinds of explanations for both of these observations.

Technology gets in the way.
Monogamy is an antiquated ideal.
It started great, but we just weren't meant to be. It was like they became a different person.
We had great sexual chemistry, naturally I thought we were compatible.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I get it, ok? Life wasn't all peaches and cream back in the days when the divorce rate was lower. There have always been skeezy guys, and crazy girls. Monogamy isn't the way to go for every one.

I get it.

But what honestly happened to romantic relationships in the span of a half century?

Why is it so difficult to find real, honest love?
Why is it so easy to leave now?

I think the problem begins with our understanding of what love is.

I would bet the farm that you think you're a pretty good person, am I right?
I might even go so far as to say you probably believe you're a fabulous person.

And that's just the problem.

I'm the main character in my life's story. Naturally, I'm my own hero. This isn't an egotistical statement, it just comes naturally to us. We're conditioned to understand our situations as they apply to us. We're, by nature, the center of our own universe.

And when you're the hero, your own faults are tough to see. I would wager that, in 95% of rehashing relationship conflict to close friends you are telling the person you're confiding in just how unreasonable they were, and how simple things could be if they just saw things your way.

Self is the number one difficulty when it comes to relationships. Or, to put it another way, we end up hindering ourselves by our inability to see our own flaws... 

Now some people are able to see both sides of the coin better than others. I'm not saying we're all completely blind to it. But we, more often than not, tend to believe that we're in the right, and the other party is in the wrong.

The second biggest disconnect that I've noticed in romances now, is when valuing our Self too highly becomes Selfishness.

I've been noticing that in the dating realm we seek first, myself included, someone who can meet our needs.

Well what's the problem with that? Isn't that the end goal? Isn't that what a marriage needs to survive, someone who can give us what we need?

Well, yes...and no.

When I actively pursue someone who meets all my criteria, I'm looking for a specially tailored being. The reality is, no such person exists. People are people. They're going to come with flaws, and little things that annoy the living crap out of you in the same box as they great character qualities.

Many people can find extreme disappointment when things start out great, but they discover these character flaws. It's almost a bit like false advertising, even though it isn't the significant other who is at fault. It's the unrealistic expectations we've adopted prior to the dating relationship.

Another thing to consider, is that the Bible talks about love in a different way. It speaks of love that meets the needs of others before the needs of self. It talks of humility, and the bravery it takes to admit your shortcomings.

Isn't this counter intuitive to our thought process? Isn't love about finding self fulfillment? Isn't it about finding a person who will be there for you when you need them?

The Bible says no.

It says repeatedly that love is shown by serving, and meeting the needs of another. Putting them before yourself. Giving grace for shortcomings, abundantly. Asking for forgiveness when you find yourself in the wrong.

The more I think about these characteristics of love as, I believe, God intended us to love others. It all makes sense.

It makes sense why romance is broken.
It makes sense why people can't stay together for a lifetime any more.
It makes sense why it's so hard to find a connection these days.

I've been going about it all wrong!And that's where Karma comes in, I've been reaping everything I've been sowing in romance.

Something happened along the way, and it hijacked my understanding of what it means to love, and to be loved. Maybe this understanding is the reason I'm so at peace with singleness right now. Because I'm no longer looking for a flawed human being to fill me up as a significant other.

Now I know why I'm not worried about whether I'll get married or not, or if it's going to last.

Romance, chivalry, longevity...all these things and more are possible. Some may think they're antiquated. I don't. I think they're real, and very, very attainable.