Aren’t roses better with thorns?
In the 1996 flick Bed of Roses, a likeable florist (Christian Slater) discusses Sterling roses with a cynical, broken woman. The roses are a dusky shade of purple-gray, and get this—have no thorns.
The woman comments that she doesn’t think that’s right. Roses should have thorns. Otherwise they’re too perfect.
Later, after the two spend a day together, the florist sends a bouquet of Sterling roses, thanking her for “a day of too much perfection.”
Personally, I resonate with the suspicion of “too much perfection” in my marriage. Sometimes those sweet moments of being loved feel divorced from who I am, what I deserve. (Guilt and I have always had a tight-knit relationship.)
I personally feel better when I am earning love, when I have something to offer in return. Maybe I could be the ideal wife and be generous in my responses to him. I could be beautiful and good and trustworthy and industrious and perfect.
Author David Benner* writes, “Everything within us tells us that the universe must be organized according to a principle wherein we get what we deserve.” And we desperately want to be able to contribute something to the deal.
Benner reminds us that we’re often afraid of love becauselove means surrender.What if we get hurt? What if this person fails me? What if I’m vulnerable—and rejected? What if I’m overwhelmed by my need for care—or the other person’s love devours me?
We fear being punished because we’renot enough. It hinders our ability to love—and be loved—because we’re consumed with our perception of ourselves.
It’s something God has been telling me all along: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
When you’re honest, what keeps you from the “too-much perfection” of surrendering to your spouse’s love … but first and foremost, to God’s?
Listen to how one couple’s marriage was saved by surrendering it to God.
The good stuff: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
Action points: Take time to pray, considering what scares you about God’s—and a spouse’s—unconditional love. Why is your guard up? Are you willing to pray for a heart willing to accept “too much perfection”?
*Benner, David. Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality.Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books (2015), p. 44.
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