In my favorite scene from the book Gone With the Wind, (the book, not the movie) Scarlett gets the epiphany of a lifetime. It begins at the deathbed of her friend Melly.
After a tearful good-bye, Scarlett wanders out of Melly’s room to find Ashley Wilkes, the man she’s spent her life pining after, bumbling around. Suddenly, the blinders fall off and for the first time in her life, she sees Ashley for what he really is and she says to herself,
“He never really existed at all, except in my imagination…I loved something I made up… I made a pretty suit of clothes…and when Ashely came riding along…I put that suit on him and made him wear it whether it fitted him or not.”
I, like Scarlett, have always had an ideal image of a man. A man who would love me the way I wanted him to. Who would never cause the kind of tension I often experienced with Tim. I too made a pretty suit, and I forced Tim to wear it.
And every time Tim chafed against the fit, I added it to my list of proof that he didn’t love me enough.
Not satisfied with the Tim’s income, against his wishes, I got a job. Then when I couldn’t quit, I made it his fault for not making enough money. When he did silly things at the dinner table, instead of enjoying the humor, I scoffed at his lack of refinement. And don’t get me started on his need to come to my rescue and fix everything. Really Tim – sometimes it was okay to buy a new blow dryer.
Sadly, I treated God the same way. As a little girl, I created an ideal image of who He should be. Then daily, I laid before Him a list of demands I felt He should meet. Then when He didn’t deliver, I altered my image of Him, and not my list of demands.
When Tim got sick with cancer, my blinders started to come off. I began to see a man who, like me, had to fight against his own sin. To struggle in that tension of being the person he was at the same time trying to understand me.
“It was obvious we were meant for each other…I was the only man of your acquaintance who could love you after knowing you as you really are…I loved you and I took the chance.”
Love is always a risk. And to fully love requires taking a chance. I’m so glad I took a chance on love. And I’m glad Jesus took a chance on me. Even unto death on a cross.