I remember sitting across from a girl I really liked, looking into her big brown eyes, caught up in conversation, discovering all these things we had in common — and just feeling dumbfounded. “How can she not feel what I’m feeling?!” I felt the magnetism of undeniable kinship pulling me to her, but I knew she didn’t feel the same.
That day, I went home and paced back and forth through my house for 45 minutes, sometimes praying, but feeling like a caged lion. My heart resonates so much with hers. Her thoughts are so in line with mine. How can she not feel this?
When you feel like you’ve found a special match in someone and they just don’t feel the same, doesn’t it feel so improper, like something in the world is just not right? The stars have aligned, your story finally makes sense, but there’s one main problem: The other necessary person just can’t play their part.
And it feels bigger than just one person not wanting another; it’s an imbalance in the designed order. I throw my hands up and look around. “Doesn’t anybody else see this exception to the laws of nature?” The beloved does not love the lover. It is a strange and strong inequality.
Why does it feel so wrong?
When I was in the throes of these feelings, I went for a long walk outside to think and pray. One of the things I asked myself was why this inequality felt so “not right.” I thought about when I have felt jealousy before. When the beloved not only doesn’t feel it, but then chooses a less worthy lover, why does it amplify all the inequality alerts in my head by a magnitude of a million? Something in my heart, below my reason and logic, tells me that there is something intrinsically improper, not only with the beloved not loving the lover, but about giving your heart to two people. Why is exclusivity so important in this?
I assume evolution would have some sort of theory on this, but I have a hunch that many of the things built into this world are here to help us understand God better. Maybe part of God’s purpose in giving us earthly romance is to show us His feelings toward us. Does this grand inequality I feel in my heart tell me something about Him?
After all, He is our original and safest lover, standing beside our heart, gazing at us lovingly from before we were born and saying, “Don’t you see what we have here? Don’t you see how much we are supposed to be together? Why do you look anywhere else?” He’s given us all of His beautiful gifts, and even broken His own heart open so we might see His love, but we still barely give Him a moment or two each day, after we’ve satisfied ourselves with more visceral things — our less worthy lovers.
I concluded there is something important built into the foundations of the world that matters who our heart belongs to. Who owns our heart? And our heart can ultimately only be owned by one. Something about even earthly romance is teaching us that our heart must belong to One lover above all others. (Of course, we are meant to love our earthly lover above all other earthly lovers, but our Heavenly Lover must be foremost above all.)
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
Maybe this is what I stumbled upon through unrequited romance. This is what is built deeply into our souls. This is the shadow of the heavenly rule we feel when our earthly beloved does not love us back. We were meant to love One above all others. Our most worthy Lover. Our ancient Father. Our childhood Sweetheart. Our greatest Protector and Wooer.
But we don’t see Him. And often when we look out across the landscape of all the things He has given us to enjoy, we are instead wooed by them, and He is left wanting. I have written you into my epic story. I have lined up the stars for us to be lovers. But your eyes cannot see all this love I have for you. I have been waiting here beside you your whole life, and you don’t even see it. If only you turned to me, I would be your best lover.
This is the great inequality.