I’ve probably read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller a total of three times, and a thought that always occurs to me when I reread it is that he doesn’t make Christianity inaccessible. He echoes all of the same (if not at least similar) doubts and questions I have had and still have about Christianity, and he writes it so relevantly, so conversationally without those religious terms that can often put people off. He eases you into it.
I appreciate that a lot because growing up in a very church-active household, there is no easing you into things. You’re just born into it. Kind of like when you’re born to a royal family, except with probably less (earthly) gold plated silverware. You know the story of Adam and Eve before you even know how to add. Which at some point can be problematic because it becomes hard to separate yourself from your “religious education” and really think about what you really believe, not just what you’ve been taught to believe.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I was reading it late in bed last night (after finishing an issue of Cosmo - I know, talk about hopping through the spectrum) and I came across this part in the book that I’d underlined. Donald Miller is talking about how sometimes he talks to his pillow as if it were a woman and he tells her that he loves her and that she’s beautiful. (It’s such a weird thing to start with but it gets relatable, I promise!)
I don’t know if I do this because I am lonely or not. Tuck says I do this because I am horny. He says loneliness is real painful, and I will know it when I feel it. I think it is interesting that God designed people to need other people. We see those cigarette advertisements with the rugged cowboy riding around alone on a horse, and we think that is strength, when, really, it is like settling your soul down on a couch and not exercising it. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy.
I don’t disagree that people need people, that we were designed this way - we’re social animals, we crave contact. It’s people who don't need people who end up becoming psychopaths and serial killers, because they end up not caring about the value of human life. I think needing people is a beautiful thing because we acknowledge that every person is complex and unique and has so much to offer. We recognize the possibility of them changing our lives in some way, of altering our mindset, of benefiting from their wisdom/experiences/personality. There's no fun in being entirely self-sufficient. At least, socially.
But then I also thought about all of the chick flicks I’ve seen, how most of them perpetuate this notion that you NEED to need people - not only that, but you must HAVE them, romantically. And that if you’re single you’re sad and you need “true love” to really validate your existence/fulfill you. Which makes me pretty sad, because then we get this idea that life is not really about living, it’s about looking for that someone that will “complete” you, as if you’d gone this entire time without an arm or a leg and they’ll be at the finish line waving it at you, waiting to “complete” you. I like to believe that you will find true love as a consequence of living. That it finds you when you need it the least, because then at least you know that you can be happy without it. You’d be surprised at how little you actually need to be happy.
I wanted to compare finding true love to a video game, how there are tasks you must complete and levels you must pass and bosses you have to fight in order to get the “girl” at the end. But I have no concrete analogies of that. However, I do think it still applies. I think about break ups and how they have to happen in order for a person to evolve. You can’t still be in a relationship you’ve outgrown, because it’s like a plant whose roots have outgrown a tiny pot — you will slowly but surely die. And so will that relationship. And so, without always consciously knowing it, we do climb levels. We learn from that last trainwreck so hopefully we start looking for not necessarily something else different, but something else more. If you never grow, if you never evolve, you’ll be stuck in that never-ending cycle. You still look for that same kind of person, you still get that kind of love, which may not be the kind of love you need.
So I do agree with Miller. Anthropologically and socially and emotionally and mentally and everything else-ally. But there’s also a lesson in feeling like you need to need someone, romantically, to feel like you belong in society, that your worth is validated. There are so many other things also worth pursuing, you know? Maybe things your future spouse wouldn’t want you to miss out on.