It’s Valentine’s Day and it’s time to settle in with your new box of chocolate, lots of cushy comfiness, and your favorite romantic movie (or at least someone else’s favorite that you are being forced to watch).
After two hours of not-so-suspenseful buildup, the handsome hero bursts onto the screen and flashes a smile at the oh-so-beautiful heroine.
“I love you, Marsha!” he says. “I’ve always loved you!”
“Oh, Gerald!” she sighs. “How I have longed to hear you say that. You complete me!”
The two embrace and you (or the person who forced you to watch this sappy nonsense) sigh(s) contentedly. All is right with the TV world.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance movie. I really, really love a good romance movie. But the expression “you complete me,” which is so prevalent both on TV and in real life, actually shows that there is something very, very wrong.
It’s just that the idea is so tempting! Falling in love so completely that it is like that person meets all of my wants and needs? Ah! Be still my beating heart!
It is definitely an idea that I have to struggle against, and it’s something I see people around me struggling with too. The thing is, I truly, honestly think that this idea is at the heart of many failed relationships, and I also think it is very deceptively masked as something good.
After all, love is both healthy and Biblical.
We know from the Bible that God placed a desire in people to be with people. When Adam was alone with just God in the world, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So, He created Eve.
But our love isn’t always based on that.
In Genesis 3 we learn that in this beautiful, perfect Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had been walking regularly with God in open, total communion. (That’s part of what was ruined by sin.) In Ephesians 5, we see that marriage, which is kind of the pinnacle of romantic love, is a picture of the Church and Christ and how we will be so closely aligned with Him someday in Heaven.
That’s why we feel the need to tell people “you complete me.”
Deep down inside, we long for the past perfection of the Garden and the someday perfection of Heaven in which we can be in total communion with our Savior.
The problem is right now we’re trying to fill that longing with people…
So how do we make sure that our love for our significant other is only fulfilling that first desire, that need for people, and not trying to fill that second desire, the longing for total connection with God?
Well, first we have to actually be complete in Christ, and we have to know that we are complete in Him. To know that, first we have to know how totally incomplete we are on our own. Isaiah 59:2 says that our sins have utterly “separated us from God.” That vital relationship with our Creator is lost, and it left a giant, gaping hole in its place. But, Ephesians 2:13 says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Christ’s death on the Cross, if we accept the gift, makes us whole again. It has made us so that we “are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). Being so fulfilled in every way by Christ totally changes our view of people. They are a nice blessing, instead of a crucial lifeline.
1. We have to make the effort to put Christ first in our relationship. I don’t know how many times I have thought to myself, “Oh, I can just skip reading my Bible today because I am spending such good quality time with Benjamin, which makes God happy!” Um, that’s not how it works… Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Are my priorities Earthly or Heavenly? Apparently a bit too Earthly…
2. We have to be ready for the fact that the other person will mess up. People sin, all the time, even after they have accepted Christ. That’s why putting them on a pedestal can hurt us so much. If our life is filled with what that person thinks and what that person does, then we are going to be shattered when they disappoint us.
We’ve also put them in an impossible position.
3. We have to love them with 1 Corinthians 13 love. (You were waiting for that chapter to pop up, weren’t you?) Open up your Bible and look at that chapter. It’s not easy, it’s not always romantic, but it’s rich and it’s real, and it’s not based on circumstances. Those verses are God’s desire for our relationships.
So, long story short: Love for other people, whether significant other, family member, or a friend, is wonderful, and good, and created by God. It’s something to be treasured and worked at.
What it shouldn’t be trying to do is fill Christ sized holes. It shouldn’t be up on a pedestal, the focus of our life, or the relationship we identify most closely with. If it is, then the problem is still there, it’s just hidden under some roses and candy hearts.
So, dearest, sweetest husband of mine, if you’re reading this, I am about to say to you perhaps the most loving thing I have ever said: You don’t complete me. You really, really don’t. Smooches!
Now, where are we going for dinner?
Happy Valentine’s Day!