It's Not about You
If you gain nothing from this book other than discovering that it makes a really nice coaster, please meditate on this fundamental truth-your personal relationship is not about you! The New York Times bestseller Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus has sold over 14 million copies worldwide, and do you know what it says on the cover? "A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships." There aren't many guarantees in life, but I can promise that if your focus is on what you can get out of a relationship, you are doomed to failure. Countless couples have taken this approach, and do you know what the outcome has been? Twenty-five percent of marriages end within the first five years, and thirty-three percent end within the first ten years. While there are a number of useful strategies and insights in John Gray's book, the premise is absolutely, completely, one hundred percent wrong. A successful relationship isn't about you.
Of course, the thought that we can get what we want out of a relationship is pretty tempting and that is why most of us buy into it. But "self " is the mortal enemy of love. Self-satisfaction, self-gratification, and self-indulgence all lead to one undeniable outcome-self-destruction. Christ came into the world not to be served, but to serve; not to accept sacrifices, but to sacrifice Himself; not to fulfill His desires, but to fulfill others'.
Think about it. When we focus on ourselves, we worry about what we can get from a relationship. But love is about giving, not taking. If you build a relationship on the premise of taking, you will literally suck the life out of your partner. You'll become a relationship leech, a parasite. And parasites cannot live on their own. They have to continue jumping from host to host to fulfill their bottomless appetite for more. If you want to help yourself, don't focus on yourself. C. S.
Lewis once wrote, "The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way." If you truly and wholeheartedly want a soul mate, you are going to have to abandon the idea that the world revolves around you. Have you noticed that the only common element in every single one of your failed relationships is you? Surrender. Get yourself out of the way. Let God do what He does best.
If you would rather be stripped naked, dipped in honey, and cut loose on a bear reserve than go back to dating the way the rest of the world dates, you have probably fallen victim to a number of very selfish relationships. Most of us have. Mandy was a victim-she had the terrible habit of attracting those guys who emptied out not only her heart but also her bank account. Josh was a victim, too-unconsciously, he dated women who were emotionally insecure in hopes that he could help "save them." Each of them was dating people who focused solely on their own personal gratification, a recipe for heartache. Fortunately, this is not a fatal disease if we can recognize and treat it early.
The problem is that when we focus on ourselves, we can't possibly want what is best for someone else. We may want what is best for them as long as it aligns with our own personal happiness, but we won't want what is best for them if it conflicts with our desires. This isn't love-this is self-interest masquerading as mutual edification. Love is defined by wanting God's best for someone else regardless of what that means to you. Love is about "us" as a people, not "you" as a person.
Christ exemplified this love when He pushed aside His own personal desires and safety and died on the cross for us. If you want a heavenly relationship, you have to be eternally minded-you can't rely on common sense alone. Common sense will give you common results. Heavenly logic is selfless. If you want to receive, give; if you want to lead, serve; if you want to stand tall, kneel down; if you want to be loved, love.
This isn't a ten-step get-better program, a personal improvement plan, or a self-help book-this is a God-help book. When you finally to come to the end of yourself, God will help.
The Fun Nazi
One of the primary reasons many of us don't pursue a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ is because we believe it conflicts with our heartfelt desire to be part of an exciting, intimately involved romantic relationship. We perceive Christianity to be a list of rights and wrongs, dos and don'ts, cans and can'ts, haves and have nots, especially when it comes to relationships. And let's be honest, nobody likes rules. We thoroughly enjoy our freedom, and we like having choices. Even Burger King caters to our desire to have freedom and express our individuality. Their motto is "Have It Your Way." If rules were popular, we wouldn't need police officers, detention, the FDA, or referees.
In one of the most infamous Seinfeld episodes of all time, "The Soup Nazi," Jerry and his ragamuffin group of friends were faced with the dilemma of whether or not to play by the rules. They craved the most delicious soup in New York, but in order to savor the succulent mulligatawny, they had to stand a certain way, walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and pay a certain way, or the cook-the one they secretly referred to as "The Soup Nazi"-would snatch the soup out of their eager hands and yell, "No soup for you!" Conform or walk away empty-handed!
Unfortunately, that is how a lot of us perceive God. We incorrectly assume that in order to obtain salvation and to enjoy the abundant life-to get "the soup"-we have to stand a certain way, walk a certain way, and talk a certain way or God will snatch the abundant life out of our hands and scream, "No fun for you!" Instead of envisioning Him as a loving father figure who wants to help guide us through the forest of life, we see Him as the Fun Nazi, the dastardly disciplinarian whose only goal is to keep us in line and stop us from living the life we've always dreamed of.