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Feeling the Fireworks

I was at Starbucks not too long ago in a small city in the midwest. I ordered my usual Americano with room for cream and two packets of Splenda. Then I sat down in one of the overstuffed green chairs with an end table next to it and opened up my journal and began to write.

I had a lot to reflect on because over the weekend I had taken my best shot at pursuing a young lady that I was interested in. My mind was racing with questions about love and romance. Everything seemed perfect that weekend, and according to her I was perfect except, “I just don’t feel the fireworks,” she said.

It almost seemed like a replay. Time after time in my life girls thought I was perfect, even wanted to be my best friend, but for whatever reason, the fireworks didn’t go off for them, and the relationship never went to the next level. Now I had to know why.

I sipped my Americano as my mind wandered to “the talk” the day before in her backyard. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, and we sat in a couple of chairs in the shade for what seemed like hours.

Compliment after compliment rolled off her lips as she told me things like, “I have never met anyone like you,” and, “You treat me better than anyone has ever treated me.” However, she didn’t feel the fireworks.

I put my cup on an end table and wrote some more. The question I could not escape was, “Whoever said that fireworks, a flash in the pan or sparks are a prerequisite for love?” Does love have to happen in an explosion where the setting is just right, the sky lights up and the music plays softly in the background?

After “the talk” her roommate came home, and we all decided to throw a movie in. It was two women and me, so of course we watched a chick flick, and this particular chick flick reminded me of Little House on the Prairie. It was entitled Love Comes Softly, and I was proud of myself for watching the whole thing.

The story centers on Marty, a young woman whose husband died in an accident. To survive the upcoming winter she married Clark Davis, a widower left with a young daughter. Marty resented Clark in the beginning, but as she cared for his daughter and watched Clark’s faith in action, she and Clark became friends.

One scene showed Marty talking about love and romance with an older lady who had also been widowed and had remarried. Marty, who thought love had to include fireworks, asked her older friend if she had loved her present husband when she first married him.

The friend said, “No,” but she loved him deeply now. “Love doesn’t always come with fireworks,” the older woman said, “Sometimes love comes softly.”

I pondered that thought, knowing the girl I was interested in had heard the exact same words. What was she thinking? Maybe I was the guy she had been looking for all of her life, but the experience didn’t feel the way it’s usually portrayed in the movies. Or maybe I wasn’t the guy.

I had forgotten about my Americano setting next to me. Lifting my cup, I noticed it had been a while between sips. My phone rang. It was her, wanting to meet for lunch before I drove home. I downed the last sip of cold espresso and left, planning to share my thoughts with her, not necessarily to win her heart, but to share mine and to understand more about this complicated thing called love.

I rehearsed my speech in the car. Don’t laugh. You would have done the same.

As we sat down to eat we talked about everything but the subject we both knew would eventually come up. Finally, I bravely took the plunge and shared my thoughts on fireworks and love and the movie we watched the night before. Then … silence.

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Finally, with tears in her eyes she told me that she didn’t know what love was supposed to feel like. She had had relationships where there had been sparks, but in the end the relationship fizzled. She had others where there were no sparks at first, but eventually she did feel something. In all the confusion of love and relationships she said, “I think I am supposed to know it when it happens.”

I am still processing that weekend in my head and in my heart. I drove away thinking was it me or was it her? Would I ever be able to put my finger on it? Those questions may not ever be answered, but I tend to agree with her. When love happens, we’ll know. Yet I still wonder.

Does love start growing before we know it, like with an innocent e-mail, or a text message or a conversation in a parking lot? Or is the shortness of breath, the beating of the heart and the sweaty palms the indicator that love just began?

If our relationships with the opposite sex are supposed to mirror our relationship with God, then I don’t think there is a formula. When God romanced me, love came softly while I was still a kid, and eventually grew into an out-of-control romance.

Yet when God romanced the Apostle Paul, He knocked him off his horse and blinded him with light. Talk about fireworks. For me love came softly and for Paul love came violently and for others it may be a combination of the two.

I still have more questions than answers about love. I think with love there will always be more questions than answers.

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