Let’s begin with putting Valentine’s Day in perspective. Life crushes even the most optimistic romantic. No one escapes a broken heart, or two. For many, brokenness of the heart is a yearly peril. But, even with a severely wounded heart, something drives the human spirit forward to recapture a Mother’s unconditional love and acceptance. Love fails over and over; “Hello”? But, the mirage of the real thing rises above the scattered debris of deception and betrayal. Often in the natural aging process, the fuel of passion ebbs and love “fades to black”. Fight on for love, we persist. Is there a warrior’s mantra, “tell your heart to beat again”, despite countless heartaches?
There’s nothing like the feeling of belonging; falling in love with “The One”. With our stubborn fleshly free will, there’s an insane folly that the “love of our life” finds us. Through random connections, a lover’s brew intoxicates the senses, oblivious to hazard signs that lead to scattered pieces of the heart.
Peggy Lou was my first girlfriend; the proverbial high school sweetheart. She was attracted to my American apple-pie looks and athletic prowess; while my DNA gravitated to her vivacious personality and buxom figure. She was a superior student, energetic cheerleader, uplifting spirit and always fun to be around. Peggy Lou was an insightful friend, confidant, and classy lady. While I was more preoccupied with romancing her, she was level-headed, persuasive, and kept our relationship in the safe zone. We never studied together. She knew that wouldn’t work. Our dates usually ended with a side-trip to a hidden parking spot near her house. Passion Drive is the visual. Peggy Lou was deeply amorous, knew when to detour the fever, but held speed through the curves.
Dating revolved around beaches, picnics, dinner and dancing, or a movie. Those were the days of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, 25 cent per gallon gas, 15 cent McDonald hamburgers, and $1 movie fare. On special occasions, we’d head to the “big city” for a Temptations or Dionne Warwick concert. Memorable. Over the four years of our relationship, I became emotionally connected to her. For reasons I don’t even remember, we “broke up” in the last month of our senior year. During graduation night, what should have been a happy occasion was marred by my disconnect from Peggy Lou. While I can’t be certain, it’s possible she initiated our break-up. She may have anticipated that going to different colleges, hundreds of miles apart would be difficult on me. Her intuitive compassion appraised the situation rationally. Eventually, the energy of the physical separation dimmed, we both moved on, or we transitioned to new friendships to fill the void.
Dr. Zhivago was released in 1965, but I saw it for the first time with Molly Lynn in the fall of my college sophomore year in1970. She was a freshman at Springfield College too. Can’t recall how we met, but our romance caught fire immediately. Molly was a classic beauty with a sensual vulnerability that pulled me into her embrace. Strikingly attractive with an European visage, Molly Lynn’s allure was her smile and seductive whisper. We even wore matching black fur coats, “a la Zhivago”. Atypical for me, a tender love and respect for each other shaped our bond and passion.
Our friendship was the bedrock, and affection was natural. Through trust and closeness, our heightened affections progressed to that fateful romantic moment in her dorm room. I don’t recall what my course schedule was on that crisp fall afternoon, but I have vivid details of our “first time”. The rhythm method was our birth control. To calculate safe sex, menstrual history was tracked to predict ovulation. We calculated and re-calculated to ensure a protective window. Even with reasonable confidence that our calculation was correct, I re-discovered my prayer life! My mother taught me the power of faith and prayer, so for many days and nights following that blissful union in Molly Lynn’s dorm room, I had conversations with the Heavens. Even with a demanding full course schedule, there was always time for frequent prayer. I can readily remember my earnest prayer, “Jesus, please don’t hatch a baby while we’re in college”! Through the next month, Molly Lynn and I practiced safe sex; along with a dedicated prayer life on bended knees. What a relief when the day came that we knew God had bestowed His mercy on us. Whew, that was close!
Of course, my short term relationships with Peggy Lou and Molly Lynn were examples of Eros love. Greek for desire and longing, Eros love is erotic, rooted in selfishness and sexual gratification. Emerging during the early phase of a romantic relationship, Eros love is usually physical in nature. Without growth to a higher level of authenticity, Eros love may develop into an unbalanced relationship characterized by a partner’s controlling, manipulating, and possessing power. Highly charged romantic passions stilted in Eros love find a path to shattered dreams and broken hearts. With diminished self-esteem, how do you “tell your heart to beat again”?
There’s design and humor in God’s creation of how a man and woman are physically attracted to each other. Eros love is the burst of fireworks, thrill and excitement of a high wire act. Sustained bliss comes in transformation to Agape love; devotion to unselfish service. Agape love is the behavior and actions breathed into the creation by a divine God. Agape love is the highest form of spiritual connection to God and His creation. Through the Holy Spirit within, God designed us to be gift-givers of love. In our seasons of sacrifice and brokenness, “tell your heart to beat again”; and grow your heart’s light into agape love.