I want to be romanced. Desperately. I blame all of the romance novels I read on this fact. Or maybe just Jane Austen (she did a number on my expectations of love). But I want to be swept away. I want a man to take the time to know my heart, my desires, my deepest wishes and most precious dreams, and I want him to bring them to life. I want a man to call me in the middle of the day just to say hello. I want him to see a book at the bookstore that makes him think of me, and then buy it because he knows I will love it. I want him to leave me notes with random thoughts, even if they aren’t all romantic. Actually, saying I “want” these things might not be exactly right. The truth is, I need them.
When I was a junior in college, my roommate was playing this ridiculous “do I like him or are we just friends” game with a guy she met in Alaska. Now, he truly did like her. So much so that on her birthday he sent her flowers and a stuffed bear. I’m rather ambivalent about stuffed animals (as I have been since childhood), but the flowers were gorgeous. It was a bouquet of purple, my roommates favorite color, in a lovely glass vase. I sat at the table, watching her read the card and smiling over her flowers, and I cried. Not because it was sweet, mind you (though it was), but because I have never been sent flowers. I have never been romanced. And as I sat there crying (I consider it to be one of my most embarrassing moments), I longed with the most secret part of my soul for a true romance. For a romance of my own.
I believe there is a definite difference between love and romance. I have seen many couples in love that don’t have a romance. And it is entirely possible for a romance to be based on lust rather than love. They do not always go hand in hand, but were made to fit together beautifully. Whenever I think about romance and love stories, the first that always comes to mind is Pride and Prejudice. Miss Austen did well with this story, creating the impertinent Elizabeth Bennett and the reserved Mr. Darcy. When Darcy is proposing for the first time, he says “In vain I have struggled, it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Most women, because we know the end of the story, let out a little sigh whenever we hear this. Elizabeth was less than impressed. Besides the fact that she quite simply does not like Darcy, the delivery of his feelings left much to be desired. Elizabeth wanted to be romanced. She didn’t want a man who was struggling against his feelings. She wanted to be the focus of his devotion, the receiver of his affection. So Darcy, after overcoming the sting to his pride, romances Elizabeth. He does this by saving her youngest sister from ruin and playing matchmaker to Jane and Mr. Bingley. Darcy showed that he knew and understood Elizabeth and that which she held to be important. Everything he did was only for her.
As women, I feel that we long to be special to the man we’ve given our heart to. And if we have yet to give him our heart, we want him to chase after us, romancing us until we give it to him. Helena, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, said “We should be woo’d and were not made to woo.” How very true. Let’s be honest, ladies, we don’t want to chase down a guy. We want him to come after us. I wouldn’t even begin to understand how to go about romancing a guy without looking needy, clingy, and high maintenance. But then, I don’t believe women were created with that intention. God created us with a desire to be romanced.
God is the ultimate romancer. He knows the secrets of our hearts, the things that will put a little smile on our face and a skip in our step. He seeks us out, wanting to fill us with His love. In the gospels, Jesus often refers to himself as the bridegroom. There is an intimacy in our relationship with God, and that is the way it was intended. In the Eldredge’s book Captivating, they talk about the moments in their lives when they knew God had done something special just for them, a moment in time that was God’s way of romancing their hearts. He gives these moments to each of us, and they are all unique to ourselves. That is because each us have different hopes and desires. He knows this and gives us each exactly what we need.
God gave me such a moment while I was traveling. I was walking through the streets near the museum with my friend, and all of sudden it started to rain. Hard. It kept coming down in sheets. I started smiling and laughing, throwing my arms out to the side and lifting my face to the sky. I love the rain, adore it. I love the sound, the smell, the essence of it. But I was traveling in a city that rarely saw rain. And yet, rain it did. I felt as if God had given me a special present, one that only I would understand.
God wants to romance us, because that is the way He intended it to be. He will seek us, even in the times we pull the farthest away. Because He loves us, He will always find ways to demonstrate His love. In Hosea, we read of the disobedience (once again) of Israel. God punishes them for their sins. He says that He will “hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths” (Hos 2:6). And yet, even despite His frustration, He offers mercy: “I will allure her… and speak tenderly to her” (2:14). He will romance us.
But He asks for our faithfulness. We are to call Him our husband, and He will be betrothed to us in steadfast love and faithfulness. It is no coincidence that Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. He will chase after us, gives the romance we so desire, but we must love Him with all that we are. He is a jealous God, demanding our faithfulness and fidelity.
I want to be romanced, because the God of my heart, the lover of my soul, romances me everyday without fail. And I’m not ashamed of it. Women shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed because we want love notes or flowers or chocolates. God created us to be romanced. But He created us also to love. Romance means nothing without love to accompany it. Love is the only thing that makes it worthwhile. So while I crave romance, I also crave the love that comes with it. I crave the intimacy. But I know its waiting.