Is love work?

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In the 2001 movie, Moulin Rouge, one of the best lines in the movie is “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” I have to admit that this is my favorite love story of all time, not to mention it has the greatest movie soundtrack I have ever heard. I know, I know, a good Christian girl should not look up to a movie that is about courtesans, brothels, and bohemians.  But if you look past your initial thoughts about this movie, you would see a very different love story.  What I love most about this movie is how the main character, Christian, fights for love.  He fights by pushing through his fears and moves towards Satine, instead of away when he is feeling abandoned and rejected by her.  She actually loves him dearly, yet she pushes him away because of fear as well. Fear that he will be hurt by loving her.  Ugh!  Tell me you don’t completely relate to this? 

As a couple’s therapist I see this every single day in my office.  People pushing each other away because of fear.  We don’t do it consciously, but unconsciously.  We reject because we feel inadequate.  We abandon because we feel rejected.  We give up because we believe we are the wrong person for the job.  We criticize because we feel inferior.  We lay down and die in our relationships because we feel hopeless.  Isn’t that just the most devastating love story ever?  The hero should always fight for love and push through the pain.  But how on earth do we do that?  We learn to do that when we do our own work. 

What does it mean to do our own work?  It means to learn what makes us the most fearful in our relationships and then to change our thoughts about it.  It means to strive to be the best versions of ourselves.  Isn’t that what Jesus would expect from us in our lives?  Chances are that if you are having relationship issues, you are forgetting one or more of the New Testament commandments given to us from Jesus himself. 

Matthew 22:36-39 says “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.(NKJV)”

You see, first, we learn to love the Lord.  We learn all about Him, and the way He loves us.  We accept that love and learn what love really is.  Its sacrificial, honest, kind, direct, grace filled, and forgiving…  just like Jesus.  When you truly come into contact with Jesus by getting to know Him, you will actually crave to know more about Him.  I don’t know about you, but I have never experienced this kind of love on earth. It draws me to Him, and I want to learn all about Him and fall in love with Him more.  Because you start to understand what love truly is, you then begin to understand how to love your neighbor, or perhaps your partner.  But there is one more part that we seem to be missing…. It says, “Love your neighbor as you do YOURSELF.”  This is why you have to do your work.  You have to learn how to have God confidence in yourself.  You have to see you’re worthy in His eyes, and you have to understand you are put on this earth for a purpose.  Perhaps even the purpose of being Jesus to your partner, or to even break some generational curses.  But without that confidence, you will forever sabotage your relationships.

So which part are you struggling with?  Understanding how much God loves you and then loving Him back in return?  Loving yourself? (Not in a self-righteous way of course!) or Loving your neighbor/partner? 

I know that Christian in Moulin Rouge is just a fairy tale hero.  I find it ironic as I write this blog that his name is Christian.  Perhaps because as Christians we can really learn something from him.  Because what he says is true, “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  So do the work.  It’s worth it.  People in the world need to see a love story with Jesus at the center.  People need hope.  So do the work.  Learn about Jesus’ love so you can better love yourself and your partner.  If you have trouble doing this, don’t forget, that is what we at Rodgers Christian Counseling are here for.

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