Love is for Others

A while ago someone married to a paraplegic for 16 years was doing an AskMeAnything and got asked the question “How’s the sex life?”  No doubt the person who asked was trying to be humorous, but the man gave an answer anyway.

Somehow I knew this was going to be the first question…I’m not gonna lie. Sex is one of the big issues. I wish I was a better man, and could simply ignore that side of myself, but I’m not. I get as frustrated as anyone else, and working through that is difficult.

What followed was one of the best interactions I have seen concerning the difference of what real love is and what much of our society thinks it is, someone else followed up and pressed the issue further;

Have you ever considered or had a discussion with your wife about making the physical aspect of your relationship open? You both have needs, and I respect your patience and efforts to be a good husband. However, I feel that on a level of need you may benefit from having an agreement with your wife about a sexually open relationship while maintaining an otherwise monogamous one.

This suggestion hurts my soul every time I read it.  I do not know if this person genuinely believed this idea was a good one or he was just wondering out loud what the man thought about it.  What it really says, is “love should be about you getting everything you want and if you are missing anything then you should go get it.”  Sure, redefine the way a monogamous relationship works to fulfill your needs.  You deserve it.  You’re entitled to it.

The married man answered;

I’ve had others ask this question before, but lets be serious here.

My wife already deals with feelings of inadequacy because of the things she can’t provide for me physically. She knows I love her anyway, but she can’t help feeling like she’s somehow less than a “real” wife.

Were I to go elsewhere for sex, romping around with some able-bodied lady, even if it was done with her knowledge and nominal permission, any sense of security that she has in me, in us, would be gone. That kind of damage is irreparable.

An “open relationship” would signify only that my physical needs are more important than her emotional ones. And that just isn’t true.

Beautiful.  This man gets it.

Yes I know, sex is not love.  I think that love is greater than sex, but they are connected and I think that is another way of looking at what is being misrepresented here.  When this man opens himself to questions about his marriage and someone asks him about sex, he doesn’t try to disconnect the two like the second questioner does because the married man knows they are very much related.  He knows asking him “How’s the sex life?” is part of asking him “How’s the marriage life?”.  Look back, his answer would probably be very similar if the question was changed.  The man understands that to go outside of his marriage for sex, or for anything, would render his marriage pointless.  Whatever benefits he would receive from outside his marriage are worth nothing to him if his marriage or wife suffers.

I believe that our biggest need is love, but love is a funny thing because in order to do it correctly one must put another’s needs before their own.  And that is so hard to do sometimes.  Being a selfish 22 year old, my innate desire is not to put another’s wants or needs before my own.  My brain says that the most efficient way to enjoy the benefits of life is to have all my needs met without doing any work.  But because I love her, I make any of her needs more important than all of mine.  Well, I try to.  I fail a lot, but that is another story.  The point is we cannot fulfill our own need for love, we must love something beyond ourselves if we want it to be real.

One last person made a snide comment;

So it’s essentially a one-way deal, where she gets here psychological needs met, and you don’t. Got it. But then, I guess you made that decision when you got married. Oh well.

The man responded;

Not really, no. It is called love. It is letting the needs of someone else supersced your own. I’m rather sorry you feel the way you do. You’re missing out in the long run.

 

Blue Like Jazz; A Review

I’ll post my thoughts on being a small part of the process it took for Blue Like Jazz to become a movie later.  For now here is just a little of what I thought about the movie.

Blue Like Jazz finds a way to talk about spirituality in a relevant way to our culture.  This is big.  It isn’t preachy, cheesy, and it doesn’t judge.  It is witty, intellectual, and offers, what I think is, a sincere look at faith and what it looks like.  It follows a college freshmen’s existential struggle through life as he explores what Christianity is, what it means to others, and what it means to him.  While some movies try to explain life’s hardships, Jazz stands out because it offers the idea that maybe life is messy because life is messy and we can’t simply pray or follow 4 easy steps to make the conflict of life go away.  With a great deal of influence from his new found friends, consisting of a lesbian, civil disobeyer, and the college pope, Don begins to piece together what life is all about and where his faith belongs(if at all).  Something as miraculous as life and the human experience deserves to be struggled with and tried first hand.  There is no easy right or terribly wrong answer and Jazz doesn’t try to give you one since that is something you need to find for yourself.  Very few movies are brave enough to bring up spiritual struggles like this in a well balanced discussion that believers and nonbelievers can both enjoy.

The difference between Blue Like Jazz and other Christian-genre films is Jazz never turns you away for not believing or acting a certain way, but instead apologizes if you were ever turned away in the first place and offers to take you out for a drink.

It isn’t the best film of the decade, or even the year.  But it gets across what so many other movies have failed to in an entertaining and worthwhile way–Christianity can be(and is!) relevant in our culture.

Go see it!  If you don’t like it at all I will pay you back.

Kevin Wilkinson : Associate Producer

Easter 2012

For this year’s Easter post I’ll leave you with a quotation from a recent book I read.

The point of the resurrection…is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die…What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it…What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.

― N.T. WrightSurprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

My previous Easter posts if you’re interested.

Don’t Try to Appear Right

A couple of years ago I was playing the game Cranium with some friends.  It was my turn to get my teammate to guess my humdinger(click here if you don’t know what that means).  I picked up the card, it was a song I knew I should know and I was very embarrassed that I couldn’t remember how it went.  So I did the next best thing and hummed a different song by the same artist and explained what my teammate should be guessing was a very related popular song.  In the end he did guess it and I was relieved that I didn’t lose us a turn for my brain’s incompetence, but the rest of our group found it funny that I couldn’t remember or hum the Star Wars main title theme.  I got more embarrassed so I decided to do something.  I started to make up explain the fact that it was actually much harder to remember the opening theme because it isn’t used anywhere else in the movie, because the Imperial March is much more memorable, because people usually talk through the opening sequence anyways, etc.  I tried to explain that people should think its difficult to remember one of the most iconic movie openings in the history of film.  It was a huge lie and I was stupid for thinking I made myself seem smarter because of it.  I had a choice to laugh it off, shrug my shoulders and remember how to properly hum the song in the future but instead I desperately tried to show that I was ‘right’.  I made the wrong choice.

Why trying to appear right all the time is lame:

  1. Its fake and you know it.  What good is it to appear right when you know you were wrong?
  2. Its fake and they know it.  If others can blatantly see you trying to appear right all the time they will lose respect for you.
  3. You will seem arrogant to others.

You can never be right all the time.  Don’t let this get you down and don’t try to fight it!  Instead, embrace the fact that you can’t be right 100% of the time, and you don’t need to be!  Start to recognize when you are wrong and use it as an opportunity to learn for next time.

Why learning is cool:

  1. You learn something new that you didn’t before.
  2. It is an important skill to have; if you can’t learn anything then you aren’t going to go very far in life.
  3. People will respect you more when you learn something from them, or when they learn something from you.

If you are ever faced with this choice I encourage you to learn instead of trying to appear right.  I’ve been trying this and its amazing how much more you learn when you aren’t wasting energy trying to prove how much you already know.