Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes the story of Astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak.
In case you haven’t heard, this is the astronaut who faces a slew of charges surrounding her alleged pepper-spraying of Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman.
No, this wasn’t a friendly fire incident; it is believed to be the result of competing love interest over shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein.
At this time, the police are saying it’s a story of “unrequited love.” Whether that’s accurate, I can’t say. But I do know most of us have likely experienced unrequited love. Still, I thought a working definition would be helpful.
Wikipedia, that online encyclopedia, says “Unrequited love is love that is not reciprocated . . .” The person can experience “mood swings such as swift changes between depression and euphoria.” It can “result in obsessive behavior such as stalking . . . (and) can lead the afflicted person to be seen as ‘perverted’ or ‘creepy’ “.
Yeah, I’d say driving 950 miles just to rendezvous with your target in a darkened parking lot wearing sunglasses and diapers is just a bit “creepy.” But if the truth be told, most of us can recall a few loony moments in life when we found our love orbit in pretty serious decay.
My experience came in college after breaking up with my girlfriend of 15 months. A few weeks after the breakup, I wanted to rekindle our love, but she wasn’t “reciprocating.”
In my unrequited moment, I sat on a bench outside the memorial dormitory at Baylor University in fall 1979 waiting for her to return with her date.
With clinched hands and a shattered heart, I watched their goodnight embrace. (Sniffle.) After his departure, I went inside the dorm lobby where I managed to initiate a conversation with her.
OK, stop. Too Much Information. I can’t tell you every humiliating moment of my college love life or this newspaper would likely run dry of ink. Suffice to say, I still found the moment pretty humiliating and she likely found it pretty creepy.
But short of the creepiness of loony moments such as this one, some romanticists see poetry in unrequited love (back of hand on forehead with deep sigh). Depending on your vantage, a one-way love declaration might be seen as a brave and selfless act.
Christian tradition contains one of the most famous stories of unrequited love. It’s a well-known story that is celebrated during a season called Lent, beginning the week after Valentine’s Day.
Lent reminds us of God’s final attempt to show his love to the world. God’s previous attempts to send love notes through scores of prophets hadn’t gone all that well, so he decided to send his only son. Jesus was literally, “a chip off the old block” — a God piece, sent to bring peace.
That’s love at full tilt.
God did all this though the entire plan was fraught with unimaginable risks. For God had no evidence he’d receive anything in return. I suppose that is why the scripture says, “God put his love on the line for us . . . while we were of no use whatever to him.” (Romans 5:8).
Fortunately, the story doesn’t have to end there. God’s love is a gift for us, but it’s a gift that can only be enjoyed by giving it away. We must spread this gift, share it, reciprocate it and expend it.
God’s love needn’t remain unrequited.