The Great Fairy Tale Hoax

// on “choosing love” over “falling in love” //

{Note: this is Week 3 of a series. You may read Week 1 here, Week 2 here + Week 3 here, then continue on below!}


Honest talk y’all: I’m a dreamer. I always have been.

Last week I told you how I dreamt of a fairy tale love story for my life ever since I was a little girl. But here’s the problem with fairy tales…

  1. they often end–not begin–with “happily ever after.” Meaning, we often see the promise of “and they lived happily ever after” at the end of the book or film… which is generally the couple’s first kiss or sometimes wedding day. What happens 5, 10, or 50 years down the line? Not sure. We don’t see it. Do they make it? Are they still together when they’re old and grey? Judging by the fact that the divorce rate is nearly 50%, who knows.
  2. this whole idea of “falling in love.” The very term “falling in love” implies a lack of control. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to who I want to spend the rest of my life with I want some control. I don’t want to be a victim of who I marry. I want to choose wisely. {And I’m so glad I did!}

Gary Thomas writes about how the “infatuation” stage of a relationship lasts anywhere between 12-24 months. During that time our brains are actually chemically altered to a state that prevents us from making completely rational decisions. Scary. {See chapter 3 “Vulnerable and Stupid” in The Sacred Search}. 

Most couples get married within 12-24 months of meeting/dating. Sure they feel happy when they are still in the infatuation stage, but what happens when the feelings of infatuation wear off? What happens when real life–and God forbid, real tragedies–present themselves? Will the fairy tale fantasy last? Or will it be replaced by a real life tragedy?

Can we weather the storms together? Or will we “fall out of love”?

If we simply fall in love, then we can fall out of love. But when we choose love, and continue to choose it in the covenant of marriage, we can be certain it will last.

I most certainly fell in love with Clay. There were all the rainbows and butterflies and all of that. But more importantly I chose Clay.

From the day I first met him, it was a whole ten months before he took me on our first date. During that time I got to know him as a person, I got to see his character, and I witnessed him be the same person at work, in church, and around friends. I got to see his true heart and not simply a front that many people put up when on their best behavior in dating. When he finally asked me out, I didn’t have to think twice.

As we grew toward loving each other, I wasn’t simply overcome by an infatuation of my heart; I was guided by a wisdom in my head. Of course I was wildly attracted to him {and still am}, but we also shared {and still share} the foundation of lives built on relationship with Christ as well as the desire to build His Kingdom here on this earth.

When we value “choosing love” over “falling in love,” we set ourselves up for a future marriage that lasts–that not only survives, but thrives.

Ponder in Prayer

Have you fallen under the spell of the great fairy tale hoax?
Have you believed the lies that “happily ever after” can come simply from attraction and chemistry? Or are you waiting and dating in wisdom that withstands fleeting feelings?

Bring God your doubts. Tell Him your fears. Lay it all out on the table and be honest with Him.

Invite God to lead you on your journey of waiting and dating.
Position Him in front of you on the journey. Ask Him to help you keep your eyes fixed on He who is always before you, always leading you and guiding you. Ask Him to fill you with knowledge of His Truth that allows you to walk this often complicated and confusing season in wisdom.

And above all ask Him to fill your heart with a desire for relationship with Him–to know Him, to walk with Him, and to find fulfillment in Him.

Knowledge of Truth

We can’t always trust our heart. The unfortunate reality is that we can’t simply rely on our feelings. Our hearts can often lead us astray.

  • Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” {ESV}.
  • Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
  • And Proverbs 28:26 tells us, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

We can always trust God’s heart. The “in between” of our longing for a relationship and the fulfillment of a spouse is a difficult place to be. The battle between the spirit and flesh is real. Satan would love nothing more than for us to believe the lie that God is “holding out on us” as we date in a manner marked by wisdom and in pursuit of God’s design. But Scripture tells us quite the opposite–that God’s design brings life and that our Father longs to give us good gifts.

  • Proverbs 12:28 tells us, “In the way of righteousness there is life.” And Matthew 7:13-14 tells us to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
  • Jesus preached the following truth in Matthew 7:9-11: “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Just like an earthly father, God knows how to give us good gifts. But unlike an earthly father, His gifts are perfect gifts and far better than we could ever imagine.
  • We can be confident this Father longs to give us good gifts because He has given us the ultimate gift that came from the ultimate cost. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And John 15:13 reminds us, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

The struggle is real, but the Spirit is more powerful.
Even if we desperately long to honor God on our journey of waiting and dating, we can fall prey to Satan’s path that leads to destruction. It’s much easier to think about “right now” and take hold of that which “feels good” than it is to defer gratification to the future and hold out for God’s best. It’s so much easier to “fall in love” than it is to “choose love.” As the song goes, “My spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak.” But while “the struggle is real” so is the very real power at work within us:

  • While Romans 7:21-25 talks about the “war” that is waged within us in the battle between the sprit and flesh, Romans 8:11 tells us that “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you.” While we may be fighting a daily spiritual battle, God has already won the war. He’s already defeated the evil one. He’s already declared the ultimate victory.
  • It’s this same God who equips us with armor for the battle {Ephesians 6:10-18}, who protects us from both before us and behind {Psalm 139:5}, and who even fights our battles for us {Exodus 14:14}.
  • 1 John 4:4 reminds us, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Walking in Wisdom

Study godly marriages. Make a list of couples who have been married 10+ years whose marriage you admire. Write down what it is that you admire about them, their relationship and their marriage. Then go interview them! Ask them what has made their marriage not only survive but thrive. And ask them what their dating experience was like leading up to marriage.

Evaluate your current relationship {if you’re in one} or your idea of a future relationship {if you’re not in one}. Is your relationship based on–or do you seek out–simply feelings of attraction or a shared purpose of life and mission? Are you leading with the infatuation you feel in your heart or the knowledge you have of this person’s character, as well as God’s design, in your head? Depending on what your answer is, make a change. Ask intentional questions. Back off the physical connection in order that you might be able to more clearly discern whether or not you are meant to be together forever. Be sure you aren’t simply “falling in love” but are rather “choosing to love” this person.

Read The Sacred Search. I cannot express how valuable this tool is for the season of waiting and dating. This book explains everything I ever wrestled about within my soul and deep down longed for in a dating relationship but struggled to put into words for myself much less anyone else. Buy a copy. Borrow a copy. Rent a copy. {Just don’t steal a copy!} Bottom line: just read it!

It may not sound as romantic as “falling in love” but “choosing love” is a much wiser choice. Feelings are important and attraction is necessary, but we need to make sure we use our heads just as much as our hearts in making the decision as to who to spend the rest of our lives with.

As I re-watch Clay talking about choosing love, while it couldn’t be farther than what fairy tales preach, this mindset, belief, and heart posture couldn’t be more romantic to me. There is truly nothing better in the world than hearing my husband say–and knowing with full certainty the he means–the following words:

“I choose you. For the rest of my life I choose you. Even when I absolutely can’t stand you, I choose you.”

Choose to love a woman or man who will choose to date you with both passion and wisdom. Choose to love someone who will lead you closer to marriage and closer to the heart of Jesus all at once. Choose to love a man or woman who will choose you and who will continue to choose you–day in and day out until death do you part.

For when the one you have chosen continues to choose to love you well, even when you fall short {which you will}, you will be so glad that you didn’t simply fall in love but that you chose love and chose it well.

Week 5. Striving for Purity in a World Where Sex Sells

Week 6. On Finding “The One”: Where to Start, Where to Look

Week 7. A Dim Reflection: Why Marriage isn’t the Happy Ending.

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