I was going through boxes prepping to pack for return to CA when I came across my very first career portfolio. It contained mostly newspaper articles I’d written for the college paper and press releases from my internships. It made me chuckle.
But what I got a kick out of the most was an article I’d written for Valentine’s day of 1994. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say my anti-valentine’s day article. I compiled a list of movies typifying love gone wrong including War of the Roses and Fatal Attraction. Apparently I wasn’t keen on love then either.
Yet now in my mid-30s I have to believe in the power of love. Maybe I’m too sentimental to give up. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are my favorite romantic movies, in no particular order.
1. The Notebook – Epitome of love as it should be! UGH. If only I could find a guy that loves me like that. Aaaahhhh. Someday
2. Pride & Prejudice (2005) – (Kiera Knightly version) – True love perseveres inspite of misguided perceptions of each other.
3. An Affair to Remember (1957) – I’m going to sneak in Sleepless in Seattle (1993) with this one, since it was inspired by An Affair. I do however wholeheardtedly reject the Warren Beatty, Annette Bening remake, Love Affair (1994). This is the tale of two people deciding to find themselves first and then reunite in three months however an accident gets in the way.
4. Pretty Woman (1990) and Wedding Date (2005) – The ultimate love conquers all movies – it can even over come being an escort or hooker. Love is BIG!
5. Dirty Dancing (1987) – Teen love at its best. The good girl falls for the bad boy and even defies her family to help him succeed. “No one puts baby in the corner,”
6. Regarding Henry (1991) – Harrison Ford (ultimate in sexy) is a high-powered attorney who neglects his family for success. However, it all changes overnight when he is shot and loses his memory. He isn’t the man he was and instead learns to be the man his family loves. So good!
7. When Harry Met Sally (1989) – More than just the famous orgasm scene. This is a movie about two people who learn to become friends and then fall in love over time.
8. The Princess Bride (1987) – The most romantic fairy tale ever written! “As Yyyyyooouuu Wiiiiiiiisshh”
9. Runaway Bride (1999) – She can’t seem to commit and he wants to find out why. Instead they fall in love and yet she still runs and the reason why is because she doesn’t know who she is. Once she figures that out she can give him her running shoes.
10. 50 First Dates (2004) – Everyday he has to convince her to fall in love with him again and he’s committed to doing it. Wow! True love at its finest! So good.
Ok, so I can’t keep it to 10, here are 6 more romantic films I love:
– P.S. I love You (2007) – he loves her enough to reach out beyond death to help her move on. Love is about caring for someone else more than yourself.
– The Wedding Singer (1998) Love is seeing yourself grow old with them, set to 80s music. Can’t beat that.
– Ever After (1998) Nicole doesn’t need a knight in shining armor, she wants him in her life. Even though Drew Barrymore’s accent is the awful, the story makes it worth enduring.
– Something’s Gotta Give (2003) Never too old for love but you have to grow up to receive it. Harry is a confirmed bachelor who likes his wine aged and his women very young, until he meets his match after a heart attack. It’s just the ticket to realize what he really needs.
– Walk to Remember (2002) Another good girl falling for a bad boy. Only she changes him and her loves helps me reach for a better future. So good.
– The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart a love triangle cast perfectly.
Who doesn’t love a good story? The love, the fight, the drama, the comedy. It’s why we go to the movies. It’s why we read book. It is what transports us to another time and place. We are inspired, horrified, scared, captivated and engaged.
All the while we are writing our own story, full of the same emotions, plot points and events. Yet there are so many elements of our lives we keep hidden. We’re afraid we’re the only ones. We’re worried about being judged. We’re ashamed of what happened to us or what we’ve done.
Yet my old pastor always said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” It makes a world of difference as soon as we begin to give voice to what is happening to us, what we’ve been through and how we are feeling. It empties out brain space. It frees up our heart to move on, so we don’t get stuck in the mire of our circumstance.
This is in part why I chose to blog. Some write stories. Some sing songs. Others write poetry, paint or play an instrument. Anything is better than being silent. Anything is better that being alone. Anything is better than quiet surrender. We have to fight for ourselves. We have to shout, in a way that is healthy, so we can be set free.
My friend Jenn is choosing to give voice to her story of breast cancer. At 34 she is facing a stage three diagnosis, a mastectomy, chemo, losing her hair and fighting for her life all within about a week. To reach out for support and keep those who love her updated on her progress she is blogging through it. I am amazed at her strength, resilience, faith and the joy in her journey so far. I know there isn’t much I can do but pray and her blog helps me do that more specifically.
We are also part of a bigger story that God is telling through us. All of our stories overlap and interact with others. We are not alone. We are part of a huge family. In that there is comfort, encouragement and faith. In the midst of pain it is easy to burrow inward. It is easy to become destructive or self-sabotage. But having the courage to speak out means that we can be held accountable, someone can give reason to our voices of insanity. Or in some cases someone to just give us a hug and tell us to hang on.
I think my friend Erika is right in that we are all a beacon of hope for someone who isn’t as far in their story as we are. We get to lead the way for someone, if we let ourselves speak of what God has done, how he has provided, how he has healed, how he has disciplined and even through how we suffered.
It’s easy for me to forget these things. I want to shut down. I want to block out. I have done that a bit over the last few months. The pain of my parent’s divorce was just too fresh. The death of our family unit was overwhelming. I was fighting out of wallowing in it. I was trying to help my parents. I was trying to be there for my brother. I didn’t know how to be there for myself. I just slipped into survival mode.
I am so grateful for those friends that have kept me sane. I am so blessed with their love, joy, distractions, prayers, encouragement and support. They have made this time of pain tolerable. There have been moments when I didn’t want to talk to God. I was angry at him, yet I knew that I was getting his voice through them. They kept speaking truth. They kept speaking love.
As I come out of the shock and denial of what is happening I can finally begin to give voice to everything. I am starting to process out what it all means to me. I learning how to have a different kind of relationship with my parents and my brother.
It’s all a process.
The fourth love language is quality time.
Aaah now we’re talking my language. Quality time is all about being together. It’s focused attention. No distractions. It is true connection as you engage in quality conversation or activities.
When quality time is used as a means of expressing love it is a powerful, authentic connection. It isn’t about the activity, the focus is on what is happening between the people involved. This is all about emotional availibility and connection.
God made us for community. We need each other. We were not meant to do life alone. Yet it’s amazing how fragmented our relationships are and how lonely we feel. We hunger for this expression of love. Yet our lives are too busy, we don’t have the time to invest this way very often with many people.
Chapman identifies three main expressions of quality time: quality conversation, quality listening and quality activities.
Quality conversation is about “sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context.”
A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We did many activities but never got the chance to sit down and really talk. I left feeling a little sad. I didn’t feel connected to her. While we had fun it wasn’t completely satisfying for me. I wanted to hear about her life, interact with her about mine and discuss what we were thinking and feeling about those things that mattered to us. We didn’t have a chance to sit and share life.
An important part of quality conversation is hearing. In order to be a quality conversationalist “I will focus on drawing you out, listening sympatheically to what you have to say. I will ask question, not in a badgering manner but with a genuine desire to understand your thoughts, feelings and desires.”
It isn’t just hearing but listening to truly understand the situation and the person. It means listening for the emotions that underlie what they are saying, body language, giving undivided attention, not interrupting and clarifying what you are hearing from them. You aren’t thinking about what you’ll say next, but you are in the moment with them, emoting, encouraging, and paying attention.
The final quality time dialect is quality activities. It still isn’t really about the activity but the fact that you are doing it with someone you are about. The focus is on building memories, having shared experiences and giving someone else one of the most important things we have so little of, time.
This is why I love my day trips. I get quality, uninterrupted time one-on-one with people I enjoy spending time with. As we engage with our surroundings we’re also engaging with one another. It is sheer bliss for me.
The scary thing about quality time is opening up to another person, showing your feelings and inner most thoughts. You’re trusting them with who you are and what you like to do. Given past experiences in relationships this can be reduced to really shallow and unemotional exchanges.
I’ve been in relationships where we engage in many activities together and yet there is no connection whatsoever. I think this happens alot with co-workers. So when often when you change jobs you never talk to them again. It can also be this way with roommates. Just because you live with someone it doesn’t mean you’re spending quality time together. These relationships are frustrating.
Quality time is deliberate and intentional to build the relationship.
So for me quality time is invigorating, refreshing and life giving. I feel understood, enriched and well … loved. The people I can engage in quality time with are my soul feeders. My batteries get recharged and I leave their presence wanting more time.
The third love language we studied is acts of service.
The love language of service is one of sacrifice and help in a time of need. This is best exemplified through Jesus, and that is what we focused on in our group. Tina did a great job leading our discussion.
We listed all of the acts of service that Jesus performed and received during the three years of his ministry: healing the sick, raising the dead, washing feet, feeding five thousand, educated the masses and dying on the cross, just to name a few. He was among the least of them, the most needy and meet their basic, most pressing needs. Thinking about how Jesus received was a new tangle for me. He received water from the woman at the well. Another woman used expensive perfume to clean his feet. Martha served him when he was in her home. So this is a love language he knew well.
Acts of service is a way of expressing a sense of responsibliity for the well-being of others.
As with all of the gifts there is a shadow side, how it can be distorted to be negative and unhealthy. For acts of service its underbelly is slavery. In slavery you are not giving because you want to but because you have to. In slavery “freedom to truly serve is lost. Slavery hardens the heart. Slavery creates angelr, bitterness, and resentment.” This isn’t love.
When you treat another person as an object, you preclude the possibility of love. Manupulation by guilt (‘If you loved me, you would do this for me’) is not the language of love. Coercion by fear (‘You will do this or you will be sorry’) is alient to love. Love refuses to be manipulated.
I have to admit this love language is really hard for me, not to give but to receive. I think I’ve got too much experience with the black side of acts of service. For me it means vulnerability and weakness. I do not like to be needy. If I can’t do it myself I don’t really need it. Making a need be known is really an effort. If someone asks to help that’s one thing. But having to ask is quite another. This is definitely an area I need to work on.
It’s interesting that when God reveals a weakness he will continue to work on it for you. In another study this idea of vulnerability through acts of service came up again. This time it went futher to say that the inability to ask for help is evidence of a stubborn pride preventing us from letting go and asking God for help. So instead of growing, changing and maturing we cling to lifestyle that doesn’t work for us anymore but we’re suck because we operate in our own power never asking for help. Yikes. Definitely need to look at that some more.
Still, acts of service is definitely not my primary love language.
The second kind of love language we studied are gifts.
Chapman believes that giving gifts is one of the fundamental universal languages of love, in any culture. When done in its purest, unselfish, no strings attached way it is a “visual symbol of love.”
Now to the person whose primary love language is gifts it doesn’t matter if the gift is found, made, bought, small, big, expensive, or cheap. It is about the symbolic act of giving something to them in a loving way.
However, just like everything else it too can be perverted. The wrong kind of gift giving is when you expect something in return, are using it as leverage, it cannot be a payment for anything, or used as an apology and mean the same thing.
Chapman also says this is the easiest language to learn. If we’re paying attention we will pick up on the clues others give to us about what they like, what they need, what they’re hoping for and what their interests are. If we’re good listeners we will be able to buy, make, and recognize appropriate gifts for those that are important to us.
In our small group we all drew names and made something this week. It was great to see all of the different ideas that abounded and reflected how well we know each other. It was a fun exercise.
I think for me that the great thing about gifts is that it shows how well you know someone or how well they know you. Gifts can be a disaster if you’re not paying attention. I’ve received gifts that have nothing to do with me and is more about what the other person likes or wants, that isn’t love.
I’ve also received gifts that were the longing of my soul and many times those gifts cost little or nothing. It isn’t about how much money you spend. I don’t think many guys get that in a dating relationship. Free tip for ya – we just want to know you’re paying attention. That’s all. We really aren’t that difficult, we just require a little work.
While I appreciate gifts I know it isn’t my primary love language.