By Chip Ingram
Continuing from the previous month … part 1 here.
The Hollywood formula.
Let’s look at what Hollywood says makes a successful relationship. I’ve eliminated the lighting, the warm scenes, walking on the beach hand in hand, the slow-motion moments, and the rising and falling of background music. I’ve just cut to the chase. There are basically four steps, according to Hollywood, that lead to deep, intimate, sizzling relationships that will last forever:
Step 1: Find the right person.
That’s right. The key to love is finding that special person who was made just for you. She’s out there, you just have to find her. Drive around. Hang out. Be on the lookout. The moment will come. Do you remember the scene from the movie While You Were Sleeping when Sandra Bullock finds her “right one” when he steps up to her subway counter and asks for a train ticket? Then he gets knocked senseless and while she’s visiting him in the hospital she just happens to meet his brother who turns out to be her “real right one.” Do you get the picture? Whether it’s the movies and stars of today or the Clark Gables of the past, the message is always the same. Finding the right person just happens! It’s wild accidental and you’re helpless in the process. Eventually you’re going to meet the “right one.”
Step 2: Fall in love.
When you find that right person, something will snap and you’ll just know. No one knows how, but you’ll just know. A brief look or gesture may be enough. You may not know her name, or much about her, but you will know that you have fallen in love. In Sleepless in Seattle Tom Hanks just needs his little boy to get on the radio and tell the nation the sad story of his father’s life, and Meg Ryan soon knows she loves this man. When they finally meet, all it takes is one look and two strangers instantly fall in love. Is it the music? That ‘old magic called love’? Or just the script? In the movies you can fall in love with strangers and it’s the real thing. In the Hollywood formula love is based on chemistry, not knowledge or character. And love is all that matters. The only choice seems to be to take the next step.
Step 3: Fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfilment.
In the movies love vetoes every other decision. Brides and grooms are regularly left at the altar, because their future mates have decided to run off with someone else with whom they are “really in love.” Once you fall in love, in the Hollywood version, every other promise you have made is null and void. You can’t be held to any previous commitment. The person with whom you “fall in love” will become the object of your life, your future, your dreams and your satisfaction. You have suddenly realized that he and he alone will make you complete. He will make you whole. Life will have meaning like it never has before (except for all the other times you’ve been in love.
This period of intense infatuation and supercharged emotions can last anywhere from six weeks to eighteen months. And when the feelings start to subside (and they always do), we’ve been brainwashed to conclude that our love is dying. The perfect partner turns out to have a flaw or two. Relational conflict begins to raise its ugly head. Dissatisfaction gradually erodes those once euphoric feelings. Disillusioned and discouraged, we begin to change our focus. As emotions wane and irritations arise, we start to blame our problems on the other person’s inability to measure up. Clichés abound to describe how we’ve “drifted apart” or are “falling out of love” or how good it once was, but it’s “just not the same anymore. We either chose the wrong person or we were right for each other for a season but that season has now passed. Our lack of love has nothing to do with us; it’s simply the result of discovering that we no longer have the right person in our life. And since this happens all too often, the Hollywood formula has a fourth step that has become the norm.
Step 4: If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3.
Step 3 usually leads to failure, eventually. When relational break-down occurs, the Hollywood formula offers a quick and supposedly painless solution. Step 4; go back to the beginning. This time maybe it will work. Just go on to the next partner, repeating steps 1 – 3. You see, here is the premise behind the Hollywood formula: The key to love is finding the right person.
If your current relationship isn’t working, if for some reason this person doesn’t fulfil all your dreams and desires, if you are not exhilarated, then you must have the wrong person. He may have seemed to be the right one at the start, but the fact that the feelings have faded means that he wasn’t actually the right person for you. Throw that one away and find a new one. When you do, repeat the same formula until you get it right.
Do you know how God feels when a marriage disintegrates? Do you know how God feels as kids are torn apart when moms and dads split? Do you know how God feels when He sees the pain, rejection and loneliness people experience following broken relationships? God weeps with compassion.
But God doesn’t simply stand idly by; He wants to help. He wants People to know that He has a better way and a better plan for them and their relationships. Far from the cookie-cutter formula of Hollywood that promises love and delivers pain, God has a prescription for love, sex and lasting relationships. God created a plan especially designed for us to enjoy the highest and best with the opposite sex. Hollywood’s formula is a poor Plan B. God has created a Plan A that really works.
So where are you in your love life? How much of Hollywood’s formula have you unconsciously bought into in your pursuit of love? Are you satisfied with the results of Hollywood’s formula, or are you ready for Plan A?
This is an excerpt from the course Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships, taught by Chip Ingram. This course is available on drive-time CD or DVD, accompanied by a workbook.
For more information on this course visit www.lifechangewarehouse.com