I was reading Mark Gungor’s blog entry on Falling In and Out of Love and it reminded me or our last MYL topic and I wanted to share his thoughts with you. Take a moment this busy holiday season to check in with your spouse - choose to love (verb) them in a way that is meaningful to them - and celebrate the One who makes it possible for us to love - Jesus!
Falling In and Out of Love
Recently I was asked the question: Do you believe it is possible to fall out of love with your spouse—or were you just never in love in the first place? Sorry to disillusion all of you over-romanticized thinkers out there, but my reply is not the stuff of romance novels or movie and TV land. I know that people say they “fall in love”—sometimes even at “first sight”. I’ve heard the scientific studies about what happens to your body and your brain when you “fall in love”. I see the way the media portrays “falling in love” as this wonderful buzz of emotions that you feel when you’ve met just the “the right one”. But truthfully, I don’t think one “falls in love”.
One can fall in the toilet or in a ditch or off a ladder. You can even fall on your face…but you do not fall in love. What are people really talking about when they use the phrase anyway? I think what they’re referring to is the failed notion of love being what you feel. That sensation that is some combination of lust, infatuation and the flurry of passionate emotions you experience in a new relationship. Quite simply, what they call “falling in love” is the buzz you feel.
Funny thing is, the Bible never talks about “falling in love”. When scripture talks about love, not once does it mention feelings. People ask me, “Well, didn’t you fall in love with your wife?” I love my wife, because I choose to love her. Sure I had some euphoric type feelings way back ages ago when we first met. I’m sure I got the buzz, but if “falling in love” is merely about the buzz you feel when you are around another person, then I’ve fallen in love with many people!
Everyone has experienced this when you get around some attractive, high-energy, fun-to-be-around person that you enjoy. It’s great, you get that little buzz when you spend time with them, and then you go home to the person you’re married to and they just aren’t quite as much fun. It’s not so appealing when your husband tells you to stop spending so much money or your wife yells at you to pick up your underwear. The little buzz quickly becomes just a Zzzzzzzzzzzz…. and they will incorrectly think that this indicates they are no longer in love with their spouse. These people will then believe that the bundle of emotions they experience around the other person means they are “falling in love” and will pursue that buzz—when those feelings really don’t mean anything! They have absolutely nothing to do with real love.
Let’s go back to what the Bible says about love. In I Corinthians 13 it says that love is patient. Tell me, when you feel that rush of the new relationship—what people call “falling in love”—do you feel patient? Nope, what you feel is happy and giddy and all a-twitter. Patience is what you experience and what kicks in when life sucks. Nothing in the early throws of passion requires a person to be patient the way real love in real life does. You know, when the baby hasn’t slept for the twelfth night in a row and that wonderful Prince Charming who swept you off your feet hasn’t gotten his butt up one time to take his turn! Patience kicks in when your lovely bride interrupts your viewing of the Monday night football game with her fifty-fifth question and it’s only the end of the first quarter! Real love is patient when you don’t feel like being patient. If this is your understanding of what love is, then even when you hear that great big sucking sound over your life you will be able to say, “I love my spouse.”
The same passage of scripture tells us that “love is kind” and I’m quite positive that in the rush of new passion most people have no difficulty being kind. How about after the newness and the buzz wear off and the same-old-same-old settles in? When you feel or think rotten things are you able to love and be kind and keep your mouth shut or do you emotionally vomit all over your husband or wife because you think the key to love means having to “be honest with your feelings”? That’s nonsense! The Bible doesn’t say “love is honest, or love says mean, cruel and hurtful things”—on the contrary it says love is kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not rude or self-seeking, it is not easily angered nor does it keep a record of wrongs. All of those things are what love really is. Love is a choice—it is not a feeling and you do not fall in and out of it. The word of God makes it very clear what love is and is not.
But most people don’t understand this Biblical meaning. If you are going to use the huggy, kissy, snuggly set of feelings as the definition, then I gotta tell ya’, my wife and I fall in and out of love all the time. Sure there are times when it’s all sweetsie and it’s enjoyable, but it doesn’t stay like that constantly. Those feelings cannot be equated with love. Real love is keeping your word, honoring your commitment, dying to self when you want to live for yourself. Love is laying your life down for another, seeing that person through thick and thin, holding on to each other during illness, loss, hard times and choosing him or her above all others. All of that has absolutely nothing to do with this broken concept of love that far too many people adhere to.
Do you want to be “in buzz” with your spouse or do you want to love them? The truth of the matter is you will be sorely disappointed and your marriage will not work if you think BUZZ = LOVE. Choose the right definition of love; live by that and not your feelings. Better to leave the buzzzzzz to the bees and you won’t get stung.
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