Those of you who know me probably are aware of the fact that I have a soft spot for chick flicks. One of the most famous, and most beautiful (if you take out the couple premarital sex scenes), chick flicks of all time is “The Notebook.” It is another masterful movie adaption of a Nicholas Sparks novel. It’s a very long, deep movie, but for the purposes of this post I’m just gonna try to tackle one scene. Think back to when Allie is engaged to Lon, but after spending a few days with Noah is reminded of the love they once had. Allie must then choose between the wealthy Lon, who would provide her with a lifetime of financial security as well as the approval of her parents, and Noah, the poor farm boy that her parents despise. An argument erupts between Allie and Noah, at which point Noah offers us this powerful quote…
“So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What's it look like? If it's with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that's what you really wanted. But don't you take the easy way out.”
One of my favorite things about this movie, and this quote particularly, is that it breaks the stereotype that love is easy. When Allie realizes that she needs to choose between Lon and Noah, Noah sees that she needs to be reminded that the most loving path is not necessarily the easy path. You see, Allie fell into a very dangerous path of thought, a path that many people today fall into. Allie started to see love as an emotion, rather than a choice.
We cannot change our emotions; they come and go based on a variety of things. We also cannot choose our emotions; if we could why would we ever choose to feel anything but positive emotions? No, emotions are natural, coming and going like the passing weather. However, just like the weather can be a huge factor in how we plan our day, our emotions tend to be very strong motivators in our lives.
The thing is, can something as beautiful and profound as love be based on something as shifting as emotions? Could positive emotions really be enough to ground the love of a couple married for 50 years? Would emotions be enough to ensure that love survives through the tough, difficult times of life? I would say no, true love is not an emotion, but rather a choice, true love is in fact a decision. In this scene, Noah acknowledges that their relationship will not be easy, and that it’s going to take a lot of work. He even recognizes that “We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do it because I want you.” The fact of the matter is I may not ‘feel’ like working at it every day, but I that doesn’t stop me from being able to ‘choose’ to love. Noah is not seeking a shifting relationship based on passing emotions, but rather true love, love that will last forever.
Look at Jesus Christ, whose life is the primary example of true love. In his suffering and death, Jesus chose to love us through some extremely difficult moments. Through all the humiliation, blood, and pain Jesus still chose to accept his death, showing an extraordinary love for each of us. “Love” based simply in emotions could not have lasted through the agony of the cross, but real true love practiced as a conscious choice, as an exercise of the will, can survive all of life’s difficulties with the help of God’s grace.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for being an example of true, unconditional love. Help me to come to see love not as an emotion capable of changing like the passing winds, but rather as a conscious choice to be made day in and day out. Guide and protect me, that I may choose love especially when my emotions make true love a very difficult thing. Never let me forget your loving and guiding presence in my life.”