Would he offer his life for yours? Would you give your life to save his?
I am not a religious person, but I strongly value personal relationships, and there is one that keeps me strong and uplifted no matter what - my relationship with Jesus. I seldom segue into my spiritual beliefs here, but it's Resurrection Day, and I can't think of a better time to talk about my favorite hero. I'm mixing my spiritual beliefs with romance because to me they are not diametrically opposed. In fact, the two support one another when the origin is love.
There are very few examples in this world of that kind of love. Many mothers routinely sacrifice themselves, their very lives, for their children, even before they are born, and no one thinks twice about it. Some men protect their lovers and families at all costs, even when the cost is their lives. When we think about it, this has become an expectation of mothers, and often women in general, and for men who truly love their families, but how many lovers have you known in your life who were or are willing to give their lives to save yours?
Sadly, many of us would answer with a resounding "none." Where's the passion and romance in that? There is no ultimate love in that. Each of us is priceless, and deserves to be treated as such.
Now don't get me wrong. I realize Jesus is not to be equated with a lover, but his example of ultimate love is ingrained, and his sacrifice raised my standards to a rather lofty level shared, admittedly or not, by many. Since I met The Christ, no man can tell me he loves me, then behave selfishly and expect me to take his proclamation seriously, and my heroines feel the same.
As early as I started to understand romantic relationships, I have believed that as a woman, I have every right to expect a man worthy of my love to offer himself for me as Jesus offered and gave himself to save the church. That, to me, is ultimate love, and a candid truth too often overlooked in this world, even by those who read the Bible.
The irony here is that because I love him, too, I want him safe, but although I do whatever I can to protect him, I expect him to value me enough to be willing to fight for, protect, and shield me with his life if necessary. The other side of this coin is that I expect him to offer the best of himself to me in life as well. Like me, my heroines are willing to do what it takes to protect their men, even fight beside them, but when everything boils down, the hero has to love strongly enough to be "first into battle" (the literal translation of the Aramaic word for "husband" or "house band").
Ultimate love means you view the other person as priceless, irreplaceable. When I pick up a romance novel and fall in love with the hero, it's because he loves completely and ultimately. Unlike Jesus, he's not perfect - not even close - but he loves his heroine with everything he has. He wants what's best for her in life, He supports and builds her up, and he doesn't hesitate to offer the ultimate sacrifice. Today, I'm saying a special "thank you" to Jesus for being the epitome of ultimate love.