Monday, 3 February 2014

Lovin' you

I have to admit that I adore this song by Minnie Ripperton. Her voice is so strong, pure and beautiful, and she has such power even at the top notes that would make Kate Bush wince.

Last year, when Leah McFall did this song on The Voice, I knew that she deserved to go a long way, because she was prepared to tackle such a song, and she did it justice.

But I always have a problem with the lyrics. The core lyric is "loving you is easy 'cos you're beautiful", and I struggle with this idea. Loving is not easy - attraction may be, but love (even if it comparatively short term) is a bigger challenge. The implication is of a lifetime of love :

Stay with me while we grow old
And we will live each day in springtime

Now some people may say that I am being picky. Why can I not just enjoy the song as it is? Well the problem actually goes deeper than this, because there is also an implication that love is easy if you are beautiful, but therefore hard if you are not. As someone who is not - in all sorts of ways - I know that I can be hard to love. But if I was beautiful, the truth is, I would still be hard to love.

"Oh come on, just enjoy the song or not. Stop over-analysing it!" Except that I can't, because that's not the sort of person I am. It disturbs me, and I want to find out why - I want to know what is the problem.

I think the issue that disturbs me is the beauty myth problem - the whole idea that you need to be beautiful (according to whatever the culture has decided this means this year) in order to be loveable or loved. We have all seen some of the results of this beauty-myth in the crashing and deaths of some people who try to make it work out. Some of the celebrity burn-outs are the result of this, but there are also many non-celebrities who seek to make themselves loveable by making themselves conform. And so often find that they are still the same person, just as loveable and unloveable as before.

I have also experienced far too many people who - often unconsciously - believe that God cannot love them unless they are a more beautiful Christian, unless they are better, are cleaner. So they try to be better, try to hide their ugly parts, try to make themselves more beautiful according to the church culture they inhabit.

This is just as wrong. Let me make it clear - I am ugly, not only on the outside, but inside. I am not a good Christian person. I have all sorts of darkness - pain and hurt, that can make me a nasty person. I do things that are wrong, damaging, sinful, broken. In fact, I am a perfectly normal human.

And I know that God still loves me, as I am now today. He hurts with me in those places that I hurt. He wants some things to change, but - and this is crucial to my understanding of God - whether I change or not does not impact his love for me. I get things wrong, I cause him pain and hurt, and he still loves me as I am. That is because he is so much more, so much different from me.

That is something very special. That is a bigger God than some of the ones I have seen. That is a bigger God than the one who wants me to be beautiful to be loveable. That is my God.

Oh, and I will continue to listen to the song, enjoy it, and be disturbed by it.

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