Like the rest of Americans with Netflix, I spent much of last month enamored with the adolescent love story between Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky. Don’t know who I’m talking about? Hang with me here for a second. I’m about to dive into a b-level Netflix rom-com and tie it all to the Lord…how’s that for some gymnastics?
We’ve been denied classic rom-coms by Hollywood for years (another take!). The thing is, most everyone LOVES a good rom-com. We’re not looking for an Oscar worthy performance, we’re not looking for a totally un-problematic plot, we’re looking for a likable couple and a moment of escape from the ever-worsening news cycle. And, now we have it with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Quick catch-up (no spoilers): Lara Jean Covey is a darling high school girl who doesn’t know how cool she really is (classic rom-com move). Peter Kavinsky is the sporty guy who is really into the actually cool girl (Lara Jean)…not the supposed-to-be cool girl (his ex-girlfriend Gen). Pretty simple and predictable narrative.
Lara Jean’s Achilles Heel is that she’s always getting stuck up in her own head. She loved to think about love. So much so that she was afraid of actually experiencing love. She has a series of great romances in her head, but she never gets the courage to actually pursue them…so they stay safe and contained in her mind. She’s a little naive and a little stunted because of all the relating and romancing she’s idealizing in her mind and not out in real life.
I’m not here to make a statement about teen dating, BUT, to make a statement that I believe we do the same in our faith.
I think we idealize ourselves and our version of following Jesus when we keep our faith all up in our heads and don’t let it move down to our heart. In order to really live our faith and understand a “relationship with Jesus”, we have to get out of our own heads. We can’t simply think about God. We have to go BE with God. When we just let it swirl in our minds, we get in our own way and become stunted and naive.
We end up being low-level hypocrites because we think a lot about high-minded and lofty things, but don’t let it shift our actual life. That’s where the understanding comes. The understanding, the relating comes when we take what we know and then let it inform our actions, behaviors, and whole lives.
This takes some intense courage and often times we have to talk ourselves into it. We have to tell ourselves that it’s worth it, and that what Jesus said is actually good. We have to tell ourselves that we should believe and act upon what we know.
I wonder if we’re afraid of the great power that might exist if we dared step into the life God talks about in His word. Living confidently, laughing at the days to come, believing we’ll be provided for, and providing for others. Knowing others and being known. Telling others about this great hope and source of strength we’ve found.
What if we didn’t just think about this great love, but we actually let ourselves trust in it, let ourselves fall deeply into the consequences of it? Would we discover, like Lara Jean did in a silly rom-com that living in the reality of love is really so much better than thinking about it?
PS: thanks for coming along for my culture & faith exploration. 😂