GRACE CHURCH NWA

2828 NORTH CROSSOVER ROAD

FAYETTEVILLE, AR  72703

SUNDAY WORSHIP  10:15 AM

An Affair of the Heart

August 24, 2018

So, fun fact about me: My first long-term romantic relationship was with Rick Springfield.

 

For a totally made-up mirage that only ever existed in my head, I’m not gonna lie — it was a Many Splendored Thing. I could NOT get enough of that beautiful man! I loved him deeply, boldly, without reservation. And what’s not to love? He’s hot, obviously. But he’s also thoughtful and sensitive (I’m guessing), he smells insanely good (probably) and he’s one of the best kissers in all the far reaches of the universe (I assume).

 

I first saw him from across an uncrowded room (my living room, on TV), and I was enthralled.

 

Actually, I was captivated by his voice before I ever laid eyes on him; he sang to me all the time (through my clock radio), and unlike Jessie’s Girl — what an idiot! —  I was powerless to resist him. Then on March 25, 1981 — my 15th birthday, as Cupid/the fates would have it — Rick joined the cast of General Hospital as neurosurgeon Noah Drake, M.D.

 

(Oh, Dr. Noah Drake, you seductive, damaged adult toddler — with your feathered bangs, your cute blue scrubs and your poor, poor choices — I COULD FIX YOU!!!)

 

For the next 2 ½ years, I spent a lot of time (on weekdays, between 2 and 3 p.m. CST) with Rick during summers, holidays and spring breaks; also, on the various days I stayed home from school faking a sore throat or an ill-defined but never questioned assortment of “female problems.” As I grew to know Rick better and better (in Tiger Beat), he became the standard by whom I judged all the lesser mortals in my actual orbit.

 

At 15, I was gravely disappointed to discover that real boys can be a lot of fun, but also thoughtless and insensitive. Sometimes they smell like Drakkar Noir or Polo for Men, but sometimes they smell like sweaty socks and Skoal and farts, and — what’s worse — most of the time, they straight-up DO NOT CARE. They could fall anywhere on the Kisser’s Spectrum, from hopeless slobberer to Jedi master; you just have to roll the dice and take your chances.

 

Invariably, they’ve got wants, needs, thoughts and opinions all their own. When they have something to say, they want to be heard. And if you get distracted or bored, too bad. There’s no channel to change, dammit.

 

Here’s what occurred to me: My perfect (delusional and self-serving) relationship with Rick Springfield was just better. And so much easier! Real relationships with real boys, while great, are fraught with pitfalls, disappointment and heartbreak. They can be utterly exhausting. Should I even bother? Probably not. Clearly, a real boy would never live up to my (completely unrealistic) expectations.

 

Because in a relationship of any kind, when we hold regular flesh-and-blood people to a self-centered standard of behavior we dreamed up that’s not grace-filled or based in the reality of how humans technically are, they’ll fall short every time.

 

And so will we.  

Because in a relationship of any kind, when we hold regular flesh-and-blood people to a self-centered standard of behavior we dreamed up that’s not grace-filled or based in the reality of how humans technically are, they’ll fall short every time.

Community in the Kingdom is available to everyone; it’s meant to be diverse. It is God-authored and God-designed to draw us into a better, higher, Spirit-filled way of loving, living with and serving others that glorifies and is powered by Jesus Christ alone — an authentic affair of the heart. To experience it the way He intends, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross every dang day and follow Him in the sacrificial service of people we don’t get to screen or choose or blackball.

 

Ugh.

 

It’s so much cleaner and easier to disengage. Any of us can choose that. Maybe you have. I have, tons of times. But, holy cow — we pay a steep price when we do.

 

An idealized, adolescent infatuation can in no conceivable way compare to the ride-or-die soul partnership forged in the minutiae, broad strokes, happiness, hurt, uncertainty, nurturing,  challenges, excitement, tedium, suspense, disappointment, fun, sacrifice, forgiveness, humility, intimacy and grace of marriage. At 52, I’m really glad I know that.

 

Plus, Chris Lawson is hotter than Rick Springfield, obviously.

 

God’s imagination is for us to get out of our own heads and comfort zones and be transformed into the likeness of His Son in the midst and mess of life in community; it’s His highest good for us, and we can’t really know Him apart from it. Whatever alternatives or excuses we dream up that seem better, easier, safer or more comfortable will turn to rubble. Nothing can replace it.

 

I can tell you from personal experience that if that’s the angle you’re working — if you believe your own vision of community is more right for you — give it up, and lean into Kingdom community.

 

God’s imagination is just way better than yours.

 

Felley Lawson is a writer who loves Jesus, her husband, her kids, her dog and talking about herself in the third person.

 

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