Recently I was telling a group of high school teens (I’m a high school youth minister) my love story with my husband. Trust me that I’m laughing at myself as I tell you it’s straight out of every ’90s chick flick, with all the twists and turns, will-they-or-won’t-they that makes for a great romantic story. As I recounted our love story – complete with all the oohs and giggles – it occurred to me that the story of two people falling in love has very similar elements to the story of a disciple falling in love with Jesus.
Falling in love with Jesus
You meet Him. Perhaps you first meet at your baptism, or maybe you are introduced to Him by your parents or a friend; but as you get to know Him, you want to be His friend. So you start to spend time with Him: at Mass, in short prayers, in Scripture, in activities with mutual friends (like parish events). And the more time you spend with Him and the more you get to know Him, the friendship deepens. Now you share more of your heart, you spend more time listening, you ask what He thinks, you let Him challenge you. He starts to matter more and more and becomes one of your biggest influences.
Soon you start to be more intentional with Jesus, making room in your life for Him and giving Him priority. You start to make changes in your life so you can give Him more of your heart, rooting out sin and setting aside time just for Him. And as you give Him more of your heart and receive more of His, You fall in love with Him. You want to spend your whole life – your whole eternal life – with Him, to be in communion with Him: to receive His Body and Blood, to give your whole self in return. You want your mission to be His mission.
This swoon-worthy love story with Jesus is waiting for every disciple. So, where are you in the story. Just like it’s important to revisit and retell your love story with your spouse, it’s also important to recall your love story with Jesus. Think back to those moments when you first met, when you first trusted, when you first gave your heart to Him. And marvel at what He has done!
Of course, in our human frailty, two temptations can creep in as we ponder start to pay more attention to our own relationship with Jesus.
First, we can be tempted to comparison. We see that entirely virtuous woman from our parish with her saintly children and think to ourselves, “I’m such a hot mess. I’ll never be holy like her.” And so we don’t really try, because we don’t want to fail. We see how far it is between “here” and “there” and we stop walking with Jesus. If this is you, remember: love takes time. Thank Jesus for how far He has brought you and ask Him to help you keep your eyes on Him.
Second, and perhaps more dangerous, we can be tempted to complacency. We might look at our love story with Jesus and be impressed with ourselves. “Wow! Look how far I’ve come. I’m already there!” And we can get comfortable, and then complacent. Relationships take time, but they also take work. Confidence in our love story must lead to deeper love, not neglect. If this is you, take up the practice of a nightly Examination of Conscience so that you can let Jesus in to even deeper parts of your heart and see, every day, how much you need His love. Rejoice in His steadfastness.
So where are you right now in this epic love story with Jesus – an acquaintance, a friend, an intentional disciple? Praise Jesus for His love and ask Him to help you fall even more deeply in love with Him.
Copyright 2017 Megan Swaim