Around two years ago, I was at my part time job when I got a text from my friend asking me whether we could talk. After work, I went to her place and she was in tears. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that her boyfriend had come over to visit and used her computer. When he left, she realised that he was still logged unto Facebook and was about to log him out when a girl he had been talking to, suddenly started a chat on Facebook. She then saw the history of their conversation and could see that her boyfriend had been flirting with that girl and even told the girl he wanted them to meet. My friend then said: ‘But he said he loves me’.
I couldn’t help but go back to the beginning of their relationship. My first concern arose when my friend suddenly disappeared, I could hardly get hold of her. Furthermore, I didn’t see her at Mass anymore, which was worrying as we first met at our university chaplaincy (after Mass). When I finally got through to her, she told me that she had a boyfriend. To which I replied (probably not my best answer): ‘So that’s why you are not coming to Mass anymore?’ and she got annoyed with me (rightly so). I was concerned back then because I always thought relationships should not pull you from your friends. Anyways, I thought maybe that was just I being jealous of her happiness so I let go.
The thing is romantic relationships are not meant to pull you away from your family and friends. I know it may seem thrilling to elope with your partner or go out with a guy who is the complete opposite of you and doesn’t believe in God. But let’s ask ourselves this question: ‘When you are both old and have grey hairs, will this be enough to sustain your relationship?’ For flesh and bones alone are not enough to sustain a relationship. What I mean by flesh is that this initial attraction you feel for a guy. That alone isn’t enough to sustain your relationship. For a relationship to be fruitful, God must be within. That’s why we should worry if a romantic relationship leads us away from our family and friends. Is this relationship based on the Lord? Does it go beyond flesh? A way of looking at it is, if I stood before God with this man, will I be standing next to him or hiding him behind me? Relationships are meant to make us holier. This is not to say the liability of our holiness is the responsibility of a guy but, rather that we don’t feel in the relationship that we ought to hide our faith because it’s killing the vibe.
Now, back to my friend. She was mostly hurt because she was confused. She didn’t understand why her boyfriend will do such a thing after telling her he loved her. So I told her this: ‘’maybe he really thinks he loves you’’ and she looked at me puzzled so I added: ‘He may think he loves you but what if he doesn’t know what love really is? Just because he said it doesn’t mean he understands the meaning of it. He might think he does but clearly what he has just done, proves that he doesn’t’.
This experience made me reflect about miscommunication not just between couples but also in general.
For example I used to be an avid football fan (this must be due to the fact that I have 4 brothers who love football so they introduced me to it during my teenage years.) Let’s say, I come to the USA to visit a friend and I tell this friend that I love football and my friend decides to treat me to a football match. We arrive at the stadium and we start watching the match. I then realise that this isn’t football, this is American Football. My friend may look at me and say: ‘But you told me you like football’. That statement is true but the definition of football varies per continent. I still love football, but not the football my friend thought I liked.
Love is similar. Unfortunately love has been tainted by culture and someone’s definition of ‘love’ may not be yours. That’s why Jesus came down from heaven. To show us what love is because, back then, they were already confused! I still can’t believe Sodom and Gomorrah was in Genesis, the first chapter of the Bible; we didn’t even make it past the first chapter to damage love. To understand love, we need to look at the Lord because only HIS definition of love is accurate. I love the fact that Jesus Christ didn’t stay in heaven to tell us what love is, He came down) to show us love.
So my friends, when a guy says ‘I love you’, asks him what he believes love is. And don’t just take him on his words, look at his actions. We cannot give what we don’t have, so in order for us to recognise love, we need to know what it is. And we will know what it is by encountering Christ, most especially in the sacraments.