O God, to the farthest corners of the planet people will stand in awe, startled and stunned by your signs and wonders. Sunrise brilliance and sunset beauty both take turns singing their songs of joy to you. (Ps. 65:8)
I spent last weekend serving on a prison ministry team that presented concepts from John and Stasi Eldredge’s book, “Captivating.” It was a joy to see the women inmates taking into their hearts the reality of their God-given beauty, their desire to be seen and romanced, the wounds inflicted as they tried to get their needs met, and their craving to fill an irreplaceable role in this world. Jesus spoke through it all, and the participants grew in their ability to listen and respond to his voice.
For me too, there were moments of poignancy and revelation. Perhaps the sweetest moment was when I sensed the Lord redefining romance for me, relating it to my hunger for beauty.
I’ve never been a girly-girl. I was quite a tomboy as a kid. I got fired from my piano lessons at the age of six because I kept showing up for lessons late, with dirty bare feet from playing in the woods. I was strong, imaginative, and adventurous. As a teen and young adult, I didn’t fantasize about a great romance with a white dress, or red roses, or a “castle rising in Spain.” I wanted to be witty and smart.
I met and married my husband at 26 years old. I was old enough, and somehow just wise enough, to pick someone not based on his ability to romance me, but on the secure knowledge that he possessed the kind of character strength that would motivate him to provide, protect, and build a family with me. He was also very funny, which was an essential trait. This was romance enough for me, to have a true companion and friend who loved me unconditionally and made me laugh.
I am not casting scorn upon women who have a more classically romantic bent. I get it—it’s an archetypal, fairy-tale, Disney-princess tale—that I really can’t say escaped me entirely. (We did have that big box of old ball gowns from a church rummage sale that my sister and friends and I would put on and we’d dance around while my romantic mother improvised on the piano.)
At this weekend event, I saw that I truly do have a romantic heart, but it isn’t often revealed in stereotypically feminine ways.
This is what I wrote in my journal:
“I see God’s romancing love in my love for trees in winter, birds that chatter in spring, the damp quiet of the woods, the ripples of wind on water, the bow stroking the violin string. Romance is the impulse to step outside and find the moon on a clear evening. It is in the smell of wet leaves in fall or the rumble of a summer storm.
It’s the tears that come without warning in movies about lovers, and children, and courage, and loneliness, and sacrifice, and loss, and loyalty. Any kind of movie with dogs as central characters just does me in, especially if they die at the end. Romance connects me with what is noble and true. Romance is what pulls my heart toward the beauty of creation.
I’m not going to say that I have no need for the more conventional, intentional romantic gestures my husband might think to bestow. His love for me is beautiful too, and I dare not take it for granted. But I also must not minimize how powerfully romantic is the Lord of the Heavens and Earth, who “makes all things beautiful in his time” (Eccl. 3:11).
The God of gods, the mighty Lord himself, has spoken!
He shouts out over all the people of the earth
in every brilliant sunrise and every beautiful sunset,
saying, “Listen to me!”
God’s glory-light shines out of the Zion-realm
with the radiance of perfect beauty.
With the rumble of thunder he approaches;
he will not be silent, for he comes with an earsplitting sound!
All around him are furious flames of fire,
and preceding him is the dazzling blaze of his glory. (Ps. 50:1-3, TPT)
Lord, I am undone by your beauty, and the many surprising ways you reveal it to my romantic heart.
What words, sounds, images, or experiences come to your mind when you hear the word “romance?” Do you connect romance with beauty, and particularly, with the beauty of the natural world?