Romantic Engineering

The other day I heard Rebecca St. James’ song “Wait for Me,” and it took me back to the old “I-Kissed-Dating-Goodbye-and-Won’t-Ever-Kiss-Anyone-Else” days — the days before most of us discovered, to our utter bereavement, that there is no fool-proof formula for romantic success.

Denying life’s uncertainty is one of modernity’s lunacies. We program perfect babies and lay rigid plans for tidy lives. We don’t believe in poverty, wrinkles, or cureless diseases. We do believe in formulas, in unbendable laws: What goes up must come down, and if we just tweak the gene code or fatten the budget then life can be painless and sweet.

The “Kissed Dating Goodbye” crowd has bought the same lie. They don’t believe in heartbreak. They do believe in formulas: Nice employed boy plus homemaking girl plus parental involvement minus physical contact equals, in St. James’ dreamy words, “‘Til death do us part’ / I mean it with all of my heart / Now and always faithful to you.” No failed relationships, no misplaced kisses if you follow this ten-step plan!

This might make sense … if God told us the future every time we took a step of faith, if His plan never included undeserved pain, if being a Christian meant being infallible. But faith is the evidence of things unseen, God promises pain, and if you guard your heart too closely then you’ll never love at all.

C.S. Lewis said so: “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. … Avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your own 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.”

Living is risky, and loving is the riskiest part of living.


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~ by stultiloquence on August 26, 2007.

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