This is it. You are finally having a romantic candle-lit dinner at a high-class restaurant. You think about all the two of you have experienced and gone through together. They are just so breath-taking, sitting across the table from you. You gaze deep into their eyes and whisper, “I love you, I’d do anything for you.” They nod and whisper the same back.
Sounds like a cheesy scene right? I imagine that some of you may have even thrown up a bit in your mouth. But the reality is that, at least at some level, most of us want to have that experience, for that scene to be a part of our reality.
I recently watched the first three Star Wars movies (as in the second three that were made) with my roommate. We watched Anakin Skywalker grow from a star struck boy of 9 years to a hormonally-laced rage machine who becomes Darth Vader. What was interesting to me about watching these is that Anakin’s sole motivation is Padme, his love interest turned girlfriend turned secret wife. Even in turning to the Dark Side, it is so that he can have the power to protect Padme from death.
Anakin and Padme have that romantic dinner, they whisper “I love you,” they even have a private getaway on a planet in a galaxy far, far away. Yet this love destroys Anakin. It destroys him because of its very nature.
Anakins love for Padme is consuming and obsessive. And yet, at times, I catch myself wanting what they have anyway! So why is it so bad? Why so dangerous?
I believe it comes down to the nature of love. Love is a giving, an exchange between two people of their deepest selves. I would suggest that perhaps it is the image of God that we begin to see in someone as we grow to love them. The problem is that too often we think that that image was initiated by the one we love; we start to believe it is their own image we see, and not God’s that gives them such incredible complexity and beauty. They quickly become a god to us and we worship them in every way we know how: with our time, our finances, our decisions. When we place our lover as our utmost priority, all decisions get made through them. We force them to usurp God in our lives.
For myself, I am blessed to be in a relationship with a wonderful girl, Melissa. Interestingly, Melissa and I do not really struggle with this obsessive love problem. I think it comes down to the fact that, after two and a half years, we have both had to admit that the other person is not perfect. Sometimes she makes mistakes that hurt me, and oftentimes I make mistakes that hurt her. Neither of us are worthy of the other’s obsession and so we’re left with no choice but to look elsewhere. Our fights, struggles and yelling matches then, while certainly not fun, have acted as a reminder that neither of us is worthy of the other’s obsession.
No relationship is perfect. No one loves perfectly, does all the right things, or holds your hand exactly how you prefer the first time (fingers interlocked or just a solid grasp?). At least on this earth. God is one who longs for our obsessive love. He wants us to make our every decision through him, to become consumed in looking at him, to want to spend every minute with him. In fact, so much does he want us to want him that he has done everything he could to make this possible, to the extent of giving his own Son.
I have a feeling that if we found ourselves consumed with love for God, we’d probably be a lot better loving others in our life. And we wouldn’t have to worry as much about joining the dark side.