I don’t know when I first heard the phrase “unrequited love”, but I knew what it was long before I knew what it was called. It is everywhere, the theme of almost everything. From children’s programs like “Arthur” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” to J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, or Suzanne Collin’s wildly popular “The Hunger Games” series, society is consumed by it. From the hallways at high school to the TV shows I watched in preschool, someone liked someone who didn’t like them back. When it happens to us, when we fall for that unattainable, something breaks, sometimes beyond repair. But at the very same time, America is obsessed with unrequited love, and we see it everywhere we turn. We simply cannot get enough of this thing that we claim to hate so very much, that tortures us and reminds us of all the times that we have fallen short, of all the things we want but could never hope to even possibly possess.
I moved into my dorm less than a week ago, and I can already share of the heartbreak that one sided affections can cause. I’ve seen it, heard about it, listened to it. No one seems to be immune to something as universal as falling for that special someone who sees you as ordinary.
Sometimes, the friend zone is the most painful place to be.
One would assume, as I did for so very long, that humanity would loath something that can cause this- the deepest, rawest kind of pain. That we would avoid it at all possible costs. But we don’t. We saturate ourselves in it, in our literature and film and conversation.
And this is why.
Unrequited love is ingrained into our very being. And is has been since the beginning of time, since we were created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) Let me explain further.
Guys are clueless, there is simply no way around it. A girl could be absolutely irrevocably and undeniably in love with him, and he would miss it. And not only would he miss it, but he would ask her to meet him for lunch so he could get advice on how to ask out her best friend.
Yes. Guys are just that stupid. And 11 months out of the year, this is the gospel. However, all of that changes mid march, and lasts for about four week. For one month out of every year, guys are brilliant. And they have to be. It’s time to score a date for prom.
And, almost magically, guys are creative. They come up with eye catching ways to get someone’s attention. I went to a public high school all four years, and in that time, I saw some pretty great ways to do this. One girl was the starting pitcher for our Soft Ball team, and she worked in the preschool. Her boyfriend wrote “prom?” on a softball, gave it to a three year old, and told the little boy to go hand it to her and ask if she wanted to play catch. It was perfect.
My best friend is a singer and had the lead in every school play, starting the fall of our freshmen year. This girl is absolutely brilliant. Her date-to-be was in “Mr. Linganore”, a competition to find the cutest, strongest, most talented guy in his school. He had her help in the song he had written called
“Kelly, the Subway girl. (Her last name is Kelly, and she works at Subway) Anyways, the chorus ends with “Kelly, the Subway girl”, but instead of ending the song, he sings
“Kelly, the Subway girl”,
and then asks, on stage, in front of everyone, into the microphone,
“will you go to prom with me?”
Needless to say, both girls said yes.
Going out of our way to impress someone, to put something special on hoping he would notice, or spin her around in a crazy impromptu dance in the middle of a summertime storm.
But I am willing to bet that if elaborate over the top displays of affection didn’t have such great results, and if girls saying “no”as I did, was the rule rather than the exception, then guys would stop putting themselves out there. I have literally seen a guy walk around my high school with a homemade shirt, on it written “Brittany, prom?”
If there was even a tiny chance of rejection, then guys would stop making their love such a public thing. I would assume that asking a girl out puts a guy in a very vulnerable place. They are practically inviting an audience to see her say “no, I don’t care about you”, when they go through such extensive lengths to get her attention. I can’t imagine the humiliation.
But I know someone who can.
Because there has never been a more public, dramatic unreciprocated display of love than the Cross. Instead of hearing “I love you”, he received nails. Instead of happily ever after, he got a crown of thorns.
In short, no one has ever been the recipient of a rawer kind of unrequited love than our Savior.