** The following contains spoilers for Mamoru Hosada’s Belle. **
Media is full of romantic stories, and with that avalanche of content comes the temptation to lose our perspective on what love is. Examples abound of emotional and physical love, but for me those rare illustrations of a true, self-sacrificing love, are so much more fulfilling, and ever since I encountered my first fictional instance of a love like this, emotion-centric and chemistry-based romance content haven’t interested me.
If you like romance, I’m not here to downplay that, but I think there’s a lot more to consider in life. Jesus said in John 15:13 (KJV), “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
This is a call to action, an admonition to get up and do something, not a prescription for how to find the perfect partner or how to feel about a love interest. This applies to more than just romantic relationships. It extends to friends, family, even strangers.
Suzu, from the anime movie Belle, embodies this statement as she puts herself in harm’s way multiple times for a friend she barely knows who’s in imminent danger. Every time she acts on her love for her friend, Suzu loses something—time, comfort, even her identity—but she does it anyway and ends up saving her friend’s life. She sacrifices until it hurts, and as a result, she finds her courage and changes the world for someone else.
Jesus followed up his statement in John 15:13 by giving Himself in a show of love none of us ever have or ever will deserve, and it’s that love I look for in every story. There aren’t as many instances of it as I’d like, but every one I find resonates, changes me for the better, and helps me understand just a little bit more of this verse.
What stories have you found that illustrate love in action? I’d love to hear about them.
D. T. Powell is an award-winning fanfiction writer and author of fantasy short stories.To fill her writing day, she works on original stories, extensive fanfiction endeavors, editing friends’ work, and learning more about the craft of writing.