Romantic Comedies and “The Connection”
The story that plays out is nothing special. It’s the usual that we find in most Rom-Coms (Romantic Comedies) or sitcoms. The guy is minding his own business at a coffee shop, or library, or delivering a package to an office, but then it happens. As he pays for the cup of coffee, or checks out the book, or hands off that package, he happens to make eye contact with a beautiful woman. Maybe she’s the barista. Maybe she’s the librarian. Maybe she’s the executive who’s signing for the package. Or maybe the woman is going to the coffee shop, and he’s the barista. It doesn’t really matter, because the situation plays out the same. The eye contact is of a different kind. The moment is just a touch longer than you expect. And against all that we know about the physics of sound waves, music is suddenly being heard. Music that is a bit more fluffy too.
What we just witnessed is “the connection.”
Today, many people chew the mental cud on this scene. They roll it around over and over in their mind like a person enjoys that bite of perfect steak. You want to linger as you consume it because it just tastes that good. It’s that part of a relationship that we all want. The exhilaration. The excitement. The “flutters” of our heart as it forgets how to beat on queue. And this is the picture that is presented to our minds on a daily basis as we watch our movies and read our books. This is the basic aim of nearly all romantic comedies (Rom-Coms). And this picture becomes the vision of “the good life” that we are seeking in our own relationships.
Another Kind of “Connection”
But then there’s the part that we don’t see on the sitcom or the movie. The guy wakes up at 4:30am to leave for his job. His chiseled chin has grown into a nice soft bump. His 6-pack of abs resembles more of a smooth pillow under his shirt. And if it’s a memory foam pillow, well, then it must be remembering all those trips to the vending machine at work. His “swagger” seems to have been replaced with some sort of “I’ve-got-to-hurry-because-I-have-a-lot-to-do-today” type of stride.
The wife faces the difficulties of her own day-to-day responsibilities. Children run amuck in the home, and nothing is clean. That cup of coffee she forgot on the counter has been cold for two hours. And little Suzy is concerned about a boo-boo. A boo-boo for her teddy bear, that is. But a boo-boo that, somehow, has produced the same level of tears and sadness as a boo-boo on her own knee.
There are no candles. There are no exquisite dinners. There is tension. There is conflict. The return from work at the end of the day does not result in the man being welcomed with gleeful expressions and beautiful music playing in the background. Rather, it’s more like reinforcements showing up to a battle. Everyone is glad to see you, but hurry up and start shooting, will ya? The evening is full of duties to the family, and then comes sleep. And usually it comes at a late hour even though the alarm is set early.
But they are still married, and that is the point.
Connecting with God
I want to make a suggestion that we view our daily time with the Lord more like the committed married relationship and less like the chance encounter. What I am saying is that commitment is better than desire. Commitment is based on understanding and resolve. Desire can be based on many things, and sometimes things like lacking sleep or eating too much pizza. The one is a belief based on understanding (at least some amount of understanding). The other is a passive thing that comes upon us unbidden, and seems to flit away as it pleases.
What guides our time with the Lord should be more than some desirous glance at an appealing—and unexpected—possible new relationship. This is the issue with our “drawing near to God” each day: we often want the chance encounter. We want the excitement and emotion. Are those wrong? Nope. Are they the bricks and mortar of a long term and committed relationship? Not even close.
How does James tell us we should draw near to God? Let’s listen to his words in chapter 4 of his letter:
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
It appears that for James, drawing near to God has less to do with a passive impulse and more to do with submission to God, confession of sin, coming to a right attitude regarding our sin (weep and mourn) and finally, humility before the Lord. It seems that one who wants to draw near to God should focus on these things each day.
So get up and find your Bible right now. Read a chapter. Ponder it and meditate on its truths. Then pray and thank God for the truth you read and for His love for you. Or pray before you start. Or pray, and read, and pray some more. Not “feeling” it? Well, that’s a problem, but not the kind that gets fixed by not reading your Bible and praying. Just like not “feeling in love” with your spouse is not fixed by spending less time with them, or being less devoted to them. So pray about the feelings. Seek counsel from wise Christians about the dryness of your spiritual life. But don’t stop praying and reading the Bible.
And remember not to treat God like a barista whose phone number might be just what you were looking for. He’s far more than some entertaining tryst to quench your desire for excitement or to alleviate a little boredom from your day.