Posted by: Montecito Weddings
Written by: The Rev. Sarah Farmer

Every relationship has a unique story. Being the sentimental romantic type, it is the love stories that resonate with me. I adore listening to couples tell me of their personal stories about when cupids arrow first struck their hearts. Some started with a kiss, some by a prayer answered, others with just a glimpse across the room, a knowing in their hearts that they had found their “One”. Those sentiments are tender, sweet, and certainly the foundation on which to build one’s personal “Happily Ever After”. But is love really just “hearts ‘n’ rainbows”? What makes a love story truly epic?

I started to think this week about some of my favorite romantic movies: The Notebook, Moulin Rouge, You’ve Got Mail, Titanic, Sleepless in Seattle, The City of Angels…Certainly the commonality here is the power of true and abiding love, but in each circumstance the stronger messages woven throughout are both the overcoming of tragedy and the pain that comes from giving yourself completely and fully to another person. It exists in knowing fully well the risks that come with loving with selfless abandon and yet taking that chance anyway because true love is worth any sacrifice.

In my past dating life, I have contended and been blessed with some very real and very tragic love stories of my own, ones that transcend heaven and earth. But perhaps the most tragic was the love story that ended before it reached it’s very real and very true “epic” potential because of a partner who believed that love should be without discourse, disagreement, or trials. A man who despite being a true romantic in almost every way, very much believed that a couple must always be in complete agreement and Disney-esque harmony. It was a tall and unrealistic order to try to live up to, so you can imagine that it came to a very non Shakespearian end. It simply ended without ever arriving at it’s very reachable destiny of being one of the greatest love stories in all of history.

The reality is that no real love is without it’s trials, no couple without their differences and disagreements, no romance of any true significance without very real and very painful conflicts. It is simply the nature of all relationships, whether they be work related, of family origin, or the romantic kind that we will not always see eye to eye. Life is not easy. Love is no different. To think otherwise is not only not an Oscar worthy tale but a failure to build upon the value of a relationship through not only being good at loving, but being good at overcoming challenges and loving each other more for it.

What makes a love story epic, one on the big screen or a real life story of our own, seems to come down to not just falling in love, but being able to hang on to that love throughout all odds by weathering the storms and overcoming the tribulations that arise in this unpredictable world around us. It is what defines the saying Love Conquers All.

Would there be a story to tell if the young couple in The Notebook simply fell in love, married, and slipped into their golden years without having experienced the great blessing of discovering a love and a life together worth fighting for? The story here is not just in the love shared between a man and woman of differing backgrounds and life experiences, but in the passion of a love that despite all odds could not be kept from finding it’s true destiny.

Would the lovestruck poet and the tragic Satine of Moulin Rouge have experienced the deep sacrificial love in which they were bound if they were free to simply date without the obstacles that made them determined to overcome the world of illusions around them? Was the message here not about the value of true love over all things?

Or if Titanic were simply a tale of an ill fated ship that sank to the bottom of the ocean and was not the story a love that though it existed for but a moment in time, lasted throughout eternity… would it be magical? Unforgettable?

The truth is that love, in all of it’s beauty, with all of it’s blessings and gifts bestowed, hurts. Both the head spinning yet painful delight of falling head over heels into the romantic abyss, and the deep heart breaking hurt that comes from fighting against the forces in this world that challenge us. But without these challenges, without the trials that affect every couple, we would not know the true value of that which we most crave: a love that begins with “Happily Ever After” and ends with a story told down through the generations of a couple who fought all adversity and won!

So, my dear couples in love… love a Great Love. Love with abandon. Be epic. Jump into the delightful abyss! And fight… struggle! Suffer! Don’t be afraid of adversity. And in this, recognize the value of these life lessons learned throughout your relationship and know that if you can make it through the tough times and can still say with veracity “I love you”, you can conquer anything, together! Then, you can sell the movie rights and live quite comfortably in your own personal “Happily Ever After”. Pass the popcorn, please.

“Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it.” – Braveheart

Blessings and love in abundance, Sarah