I am thoroughly intrigued by the human intellect…..thoroughly. Documentaries, series, or television shows of any kind that focus on mental capacity…..COUNT ME IN. So as of late, I’ve become semi-obsessed with a television show on the TLC network called: “90 Day Fiancé”. Apparently it’s been around for some time now, but I’m just now getting wind of it. I didn’t intentionally seek it out, because Lord knows that I didn’t need another show sitting in my DVR waiting on me to have free time to watch it. But while in Nashville, I decided to go to the gym, flipped on the television, and there it was. And within 10 minutes, I was hooked.
In short, they follow the story of Americans who have decided to go abroad to another country to find love for many reasons, mostly because they have been unsuccessful finding love with other Americans. They utilize dating apps, websites, and even finding connections on mission trips and vacations with people from other countries by happenstance. After dating online for some time, they go to visit the individual for an extended period of time to see if they can take the next step. The next step is getting engaged, and obtaining 90 Day Fiancé’ Visa by which the foreigner is granted access to America. The American now has 90 Days to decide to marry the person or they must return to their homeland.
TLC has done well following the origin of story, all the way to its finality, whether positive, or negative…..MANY of which end negatively. Though perhaps not intended, the show has the undertone of drama that is consistent in reality shows about relationships. I’d taken it more for a documentary until watching the reunion show. It then became very clear that the producers have found success by capitalizing on the drama. However, it is not the drama that drew me in, though I do have some appreciation for it. (LOL) It was something much bigger and that which amazed me. It’s the reality and resounding theme of life:
PEOPLE WILL DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE.
That may sound like a simple truth that we all know. But it’s not until you witness the lengths that people will go to in order to possess something that many of us may take for granted that you see how critical this human emotion is, that it’s literally a driving necessity. And as I continue to watch the show, and also get emotionally invested in each story, I see over and over again that love is not something that people are willing to live without, nor should we according to the way that God made us. It has been ingrained in our DNA and make up. Even the most jaded, bitter and hurt individual who has been spurned and does not trust people want love. They may not be able to fix their lips to ask for it, appear vulnerable enough to receive it, but they want it. And anyone living without it, is either deeply filled with sorrow, or looking for it, sometimes in all the wrong ways.
Many of the Americans have spent a considerable amount of their life savings, 401K, and sold out valuable items to pursue these relationships because long distance relationships are extremely costly, not to mention the fees associated with bringing an individual to America. There are many nights that I sit watch, curled up under a blanket with my Skinny Pop, screaming: “Noooooooooo!”, or an occasional whisper of “Stupid……just stupid.” Sometimes the writing is on the wall. You see the train wreck coming. You know that this is a fraudulent relationship, or that it won’t work. And the notion of people destroying relationships with their loved ones, or blowing through THOUSANDS of dollars, only for this to end in disaster gets my self-help/life coach/counselor’s blood pressure up.
So as always, I try to understand the mental capacity. I ask: What would make someone go this far? What would make a person throw caution to wind to this degree? Why not seek out someone within your own country who’s within reach? Why can’t they see the red flags? Then I rehearse my own foolish history of relationships and find SOME of the answers. But then again, I also find other things that look familiar.
I see the same look in all of their eyes. I hear the same words and reasons. I feel the same anxiousness. I see the stubbornness to ignore everyone else and “go with your heart”. (Never go with your heart by the way) And the resounding and most popular notion persists:
“LOVE IS BLIND.”
I have heard this my entire life. People say it, and it sounds true because it’s been said so much. And if you’re like me and rehearse moments of foolishness where you thought that you were in love, it even feels true. But after being married, having kids, loving people, and being hurt and disappointed by MANY, I can say with all surety: “LOVE” is not blind. Love isn’t blind at all. Ignorance is blind. Fantasy is blind. Infatuation is blind…..SUPER blind. Love on the other hand, IS NOT blind.
”Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” 1Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
Love, by its very nature and definition biblically is the opposite. It is a choice that is made only after it has seen it all. Love cannot be love without first seeing weaknesses and faults, and choosing to ACT in a way that does not ignore them, but goes contrary to them. God viewed the sin of humanity. He saw our feebleness of mind, and our need for a savior. In his love for us (John 3:16) he gave his son as the remedy. Love did not keep the father from seeing us as we were, instead it sought to give a remedy to what it did see.
Love that is truly given does not always guarantee the desired return. Often, it can instead make us look foolish or weak when it does not. I have sat with many people who had suffered failed marriages, relationships, or issues with their children who they’d given PURE love. Only to have this love not reciprocated or abused. Many of them had been manipulated or taken advantage of because of their love. I know how this feels. For some time the thought of being taken advantage of produced feelings of shame and sorrow. And you can often feel “stupid” or dumb for giving so much, so long, under restraints of constant disappointment by people. But if the love that you have given is pure and true, you must hold your head up, even if this means that you had to suffer loss, remembering that you were created to love, and to give. YOU are not at fault for giving what love is. Perhaps the issue is in who we have chosen to give it to. But choosing to love, after you’ve seen it all, is a strength! This is a strength that many don’t carry. This is not a weakness if you have given this love from a place of a secured identity, and not FOR identity. Knowing who you are makes it possible to love. This is a critical truth.
Before we can label emotions as love, we must first ask if this emotion has seen enough, given enough, and chosen to act contrary to it. Not out of fantasy and infatuation, that in short, lead to foolishness and stupidity, which can often be determined by how it responds to receiving what it has fantasized about. When we are overcome with fantasy and infatuation, it is rarely about obtaining a desired object, but living in the ethereal feelings that hoping for a thing brings. In the same way that we need love, we also need hope. We need something to look forward to, to believe for. People living without vision and goals have lost hope. And often what we perceive as love is simply people pursuing hope. They are often immediately no longer intrigued when they get what they put their time and energy into pursuing. Often, what we label as being in love, is one in love with fantasy. Love goes beyond hope and desire. Love serves. Love’s descriptors are all actions in response to weaknesses. Love cannot act without seeing. Love is not blind. Love sees, and still decides to love. THIS is love. Make no mistake about it.