Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Will Love You if I Feel Like it.

  • No one can tell you who to love
  • We fell in love 
  • I fell out of love
  • Listen to your heart
  • Do what feels right
This is just a short list of popular phrases about love. Our world basically says: "I will love you if I feel like it." So many people make love out to be some magical thing that you don't have any control over, but that isn't exactly true. We all have feelings that may seem magical at times, but they are feelings, not love. We can't always control what we feel, but we can control what we do with them. Most people will probably be attracted to someone at some point in their lives. God knows I've been attracted to my fair share of men, but thank God I didn't respond/react to that attraction every time. I would probably be a MESS if I had! Love is so much more than attraction. Here is a better list of what love is:
  • Patient,
  • Kind,
  • Not jealous,
  • Not boastful or proud,
  • Not rude,
  • Doesn't demand it's own way,
  • Is not irritable,
  • Keeps no record of wrong,
  • Doesn't rejoice in injustice,
  • Rejoices when truth wins,
  • Never gives up
  • Is always hopeful
  • Endures through every circumstance. (I Cor. 13:4-7)
I'm sensing a theme here. Love is about how we treat other people. It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own issues, feelings, and desires. It's easy to forget that it isn't about us at all. We are called to love because we have been loved, but not just when we feel loved. Not just when we feel like loving. 

I am married. That doesn't mean I will never be attracted to anyone else ever again. I'm still human, and I still find men attractive. Marriage didn't suddenly blind me from every other good looking guy on the planet. I am still responsible for how I look at men and what I do with them. As a married women, I choose not to cultivate solo-friendships with men (outside of my family). I do not run for cover every time a man walks into the room, but I won't seek them out. If I'm going to be hanging out with a man other than my husband, then either my husband or another women will be there. That may sound silly to some of you, but the truth is we are sinful people and we need accountability. It is too easy to start the slippery slope to making awful choices. I doubt that most people who have an affair wake up one morning and say "You know what? Today seems like a good day for me to find someone to cheat on my husband/wife with." The Bible says "...the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness...(2 Corinthians 11:3). The good news, is that our God is bigger and smarter than Satan and He has given us resources for making good choices and knowing the difference between right and wrong. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." I love, love, love that verse! I love the picture it paints. Temptation is overwhelming. It overtakes us. If we are tempted by something, someone else has been as well. BUT temptation does NOT control us. If God is telling the truth (which I have seen proven many times), then there is always a way of escape. How encouraging is that?!? That verse has become my anthem over the years. I memorized it as a teenager and whenever I am struggling with a particular sin, I say that verse often. Whenever I feel tempted to do something I shouldn't, I say that verse and look for the escape. I am amazed by God's faithfulness. There have been so many times when I didn't think there could be a way out, but when I looked it was there. Everyone is tempted by different things. For some people it may be the urge to gossip, for some it may be sexual, for others it may be lying, stealing, pride, envy, etc. The list goes on and on, but we are ALL tempted. 

One thing that verse is not, is an excuse to push the envelope when it comes to temptation. When it comes to romantic relationships, I have heard so many people say they are okay with being alone with a person, and with making out because they wouldn't ever go too far. The Bible doesn't say "only go as far as you think you can handle, then stop." It says " Flee from sexual immorality..." (1 Cor. 6:18). When we don't follow this, we are letting our feelings guide us, not love. 

I had one serious relationship, before my husband. It was a whirlwind disaster, but I learned a lot from it. One thing I learned was NOT to "listen to my heart." If I would have done that I would have stayed with him and missed out on the life I have now. Would we have been okay? Sure, we would probably still be together, but my life would most likely be more complicated. 

Love isn't about fate, chance, or even feelings. Love is about choices. We can choose to love with our actions or we can choose to hate. We can choose to go out of our way to show people we mean "I love you" or we can hope that the words speak loud enough. Every significant relationship we have, whether romantic or platonic, will most likely be tested at some point. The only way we can pass the test is by making love a choice, not a feeling.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Corinthians 13:4-7

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