Have you heard the lyrics to a song and just felt something stir inside you? “Ooh yeah I get that.” “This song speaks to me?” A man by the name of Johnny Lee made a bestselling song called Looking for Love. Perhaps the most well-known lines of the song are when Johnny says, “I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many faces.” While it’s true that Johnny was probably talking about women, it’s also true that, in one way or another, all of us are seeking to find love and to be loved. Jesus even says so in one of the first chapters of the Bible: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). For most of us, Johnny probably speaks our own truth in this song. In my own life, just a few of the “faces and places” that I have searched for love and happiness were in perfecting my skills in sports, in seeking the approval of my classmates and friends, and especially in achieving success. I can tell you that I became one of the most elite athletes in my class, one of the popular and respected people among my peers, and I have achieved success in most areas of my life that I once thought would be all I needed. Yet so many times, I have looked back and still felt unsatisfied, as if I haven’t quite reached where I want to be. “Just a little bit better game next time, just one more achievement, and you’ll be there,” I tell myself. But the problem is that I keep forgetting my first love.
This first love I am referring to is Jesus Christ. And He is not only mine, but yours as well. “For your husband is your Maker…” (Isaiah 54:5). So if Jesus is our spouse, why are so many of us lost and looking for love? What does it mean for us that Jesus is our spouse? The answer should be that it changes everything. This is indeed is what happened to me. I encountered Christ for the first time at an event called Abbey Youth Fest. During one of the talks that day, I felt an inexplicable, extreme discomfort and a sense of heaviness settle on me. Driving home that night and over the next few days, I realized that I was uncomfortable because I was content with where I was, and Jesus knew I had so much more room to grow. Through prayer, He said to me, “Brandon, you are an athlete, you are a nice guy, and you are successful. All of these by your definition. But by mine, you are my beloved. And I want you to be HOLY.” God called me in a radical way out of my view of myself and opened my eyes to see that I am more. I could see for the first time, that all along, God has loved me way before my parents did, much more than I do, and more perfectly than anyone ever could. He called me to holiness, which, for me, meant a deeper relationship with Him.
Everyone loves a love story
Scripture unveils a marriage story, a love story, between us and Jesus Christ. It’s true; the Bible begins with the marriage of man and woman in Genesis and ends in marriage between Christ and His Church in Revelation. Even the first and last exchange of words in the Bible are between spouses. God created human beings purely out of love, and not because He had to. The love between the Trinity was perfect enough, but love seeks to expand, and He wanted someone to invite to share in this divine love. Scripture also tells us that “husbands should love their wives as Christ loved His church” (Ephesians 5:25). Love is, essentially, to will the good of another. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who was willing to die for our sins because that’s what it costed to save us. Through His Son, God revealed to us again the intense love that He has for His Bride, the Church. Today, in the sacrament of Baptism, we take VOWS (or our godparents take them for us), to love and serve God and to reject Satan. Likewise, in Holy Matrimony, the spouses take VOWS to love and serve each other for the rest of their lives. Here, again, we can see a parallel that reveals that we, the Baptized, are indeed married to our Maker. Loving God begins with knowing He is our spouse and what that means for us.
Falling in love like it’s the first time
I was married and vowed to be faithful to Jesus long before I married my wife. However, I fell in love with my wife long before I fell in love with Jesus. Yes, I knew a good bit about my faith and did everything that a cafeteria, cradle Catholic does (basically, I only did what was required of me as a Catholic). But I did not truly love, or even know, Jesus when I started dating my wife. Unknowingly, this put a strain on our relationship for a while because I had standards for her that she could never live up to. Many times, I was disappointed or let down, and many times she was left wondering if she was good enough. After my Abbey Youth Festival experience, I realized that I had already had a lover, one to whom I had been unfaithful. I decided to dive in and get to know this Jesus who loved me so much. As I grew to know Him more and more (not just know about Him), I fell in love like it was the first time. And it changed everything.
I didn’t stop loving my wife. In fact, I love her all the more because I can see that she is a great gift to me, and she was entrusted to my care out of love. She is my first love’s daughter and bride, so I can finally see that she was never all mine, but that I am blessed to be invited to share in loving her. Even now, much further down the road, I consistently struggle with putting my relationship with Jesus first. My wife, along with other things, sometimes consume my thoughts, grab my attention, and take me away from the Bridegroom. Thankfully, we have Mary, the Virgin Mother, as an example. We can look to Mary to help us out because Mary was the woman who perfectly loved God before she loved her earthly spouse, St. Joseph. She loved God so much that her love and receptivity to God’s love literally brought forth divine life. The Lord knew that her heart was fully set on Him, and so He gave her Jesus. Representing all of us, she, the Bride, most fully said “yes” to the Bridegroom’s proposal. God knows the desires of our heart and even desires it more than us. The more we set our hearts fully on the Lord, as Mary did, the more we will receive our Bridegroom.
Experience a love like no other
In Scripture, the Lord tells us, “Though the mountains fall away and the hills be shaken, My love shall never fall away from you” (Isaiah 54:10). Does that sound like a God who loves us because He has to or because He wants to? The heart of God is a romantic one. No one can match the love that Christ has for us. We should, therefore, want to return that love, not feel like we have to. Again in Scripture we hear, “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit” (Isaiah 54:6). God knows we are human and prone to be unfaithful to Him, but He patiently awaits a response to His daily calling, His daily marriage proposal to us. Every day He asks us, “Remember me? Come back and spend eternity with me.” Our response should echo that of the prophet Isaiah’s: “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back” (Isaiah 54:7). I have looked for love in many wrong places, but now that I know and love He who loved me first, my heart is no longer restless. If we truly are looking for love, we need not look further than the divine Bridegroom. If we make Him a priority and live out our marriage vows, we shall experience a love like no other. In matrimony, two spouses vow to love each other “until death do us part.” At death, we are joined with our first spouse, He who always has and always will love us. So join with me in vowing to remember our first spouse and to love Him “until death join us together.”
-Brandon Soileau, Cowboy Catholic Alumnus