The Ordinariness of Extraordinary Love

“Unless it is mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it is a waste of time.”   I came across this quote on facebook recently and it sparked my interest.  In essence, if love is going to be anything, it certainly shouldn’t be ordinary.  If it’s real, true love, it won’t be boring. This certainly seems to reflect the general attitude of the culture currently.  We are told in movies and songs that love should be mad, passionate.  It should transform our lives from ordinary to extraordinary. Basically, love should be like a drug, something to keep us constantly high and something we cannot live without.

There’s a problem with this however.  The problem is that real love isn’t like that.  It isn’t like that at all.  Perhaps that’s why so many people end up disillusioned by what they thought was “true love.”  They find and latch on to something “passionate” and “extraordinary” only to soon find themselves extraordinarily disappointed and hurt when the passion fades.  They discover that what they thought was going to make their life special and meaningful has dropped them back into the harsh reality of their very normal, very ordinary lives.

That’s the heart of the problem.  We want to escape the mundane.  We’re so desperately afraid of it that we look to romantic love to save us from being ordinary, but the truth is that true, extraordinary love is incredibly ordinary.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is passion.  There are deep, heartfelt, thrilling emotions, but they are not the substance.  They are not the foundation. True love is extraordinary not because it lifts us above the ordinary, but because it perseveres with us through the ordinary.  And in life, there is a lot of ordinary.

My grandparents have been married for 61 years.  Their names are Jon and Dorothy.  They grew up and raised their family in the quiet state of Oklahoma.  They are normal people who worked normal jobs and led normal lives.  I can assure you that it has not been 61 years of madness and passion, but 61 years of faithfulness, of quiet commitment and deep companionship.  And when one of them leaves this earth, their love for each other will be celebrated as extraordinary not because they rode an endless roller coaster of thrills and emotions, but because they walked together, hand in hand, side by side through all of life’s highs, lows, and just plain average days.

The most crucial thing that our culture misses is that romantic love is just a picture.  Love that lasts for 61 years of marriage points us to Christ who shows us what love really is.  It does not promise to lift us above the ordinary, but to come dwell with us among it, transforming it into something beautiful and meaningful.  It came down to be born in a manger among manure and animals.  It walked the earth, knowing hunger and fatigue and getting dirt in its sandals.  It carried a heavy, heavy cross and died a humiliating death.  Christ put on human flesh, bore with us in the desperately ordinary things of life and persevered under the heavy load of our sin because of His great love for us. This is the real, extraordinary love for which our hearts long.   It “bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7) and that is why it lasts and satisfies our souls.

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