In 1967, the Beatles released a song called All You Need is Love which was first performed on June 25 on the world’s first global television link. Of the song, the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein said, “The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything.”
A lot in the world has changed since 1967, but one thing hasn’t changed: our culture is still sending out the message that love—particularly romantic love—is all you need. Movies, radio, and magazines tell us that if we can just find our soul mate that all of our problems will disappear.
While love is from God, there are limitations to earthly love—no matter how wonderful another person may be. Therefore, adjusting unrealistic expectations about love can be one of the best things that can ever happen to us.
More Joy, More Love
When we realize that only God can love us completely, we are—ironically—freed to give and receive love in a greater way. And, that makes all the difference between being joyful in our relationships and being miserable. The person who expects more from others than they can deliver will be difficult to please. However, the more secure we are in God’s love, the less pressure we will put on others. Then, instead of being just consumers of love, we can joyfully become bearers of love because we are filled up with Christ’s love first.
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller writes, “. . . putting the weight of all your deepest hopes and longings on the person you are marrying, you are going to crush him or her with your expectations. No person, not even the best one, can give your soul all it needs.”
Saved from Bitterness
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Keller also writes, “We maintain the fantasy that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed. But when our expectations and hopes reach that magnitude, as [Ernest] Becker says, ‘the object of love is God.’ No lover, no human being is qualified for that role. No one can live up to that. The inevitable result is bitter disillusionment.”
If disillusionment becomes a part of our stories, bitterness of heart may not be far behind. We may give up on love as our expectations betray us. We will close our hearts off to others because we believe that love always disappoints. If this happens, we are just as enslaved as if we think that another person can meet all our needs.
To be free from unrealistic expectations about love, we must continually press into God for our needs, reject the lies of our culture, practice gentle grace in our relationships, remember that we are not perfect, and keep our eyes firmly fixed on Christ. We must also remember that God created us for relationships; we were not created to worship relationships.
Finally, when we adjust our expectations and find our significance in Christ, we may find that something surprising happens: we may discover loving and being loved giving us joy in ways we never expected.
*Previously posted on Blueprint For Life.