Secular view of love = involuntary emotion; random chemical reaction; biological response; transitory; a feeling you “get”, not something you “do”.
Christian love is an act of the will. Love is a choice. Love is a deliberate decision Love is willing the good of the other Love is an outpouring of self (“Self-donation”) to the other Love is an offering; in other words, a sacrifice.Leila continues, “love is not a feeling, although feelings do accompany love. Sometimes those feelings are ecstatic, blissful and peaceful, and sometimes they are excruciating, agonizing and raw. At other times, there are no feelings at all.”
I needed to hear (read) this.
We’ve been married for about 5 years…and together for almost 13. While I do still get butterflies in my stomach when I think about or see Mr. Amen, to be completely honest, that isn’t happening every day. We’ve had our share of difficulties, especially since getting married. There have been stressors galore and the enemy has really tried to pull us apart. My feelings are not always so positive when he turns on the light in our bedroom after I am asleep, when he yells a question from the opposite end of the house and then is less than thrilled that I can’t hear him or that I don’t answer, when we disagree on how money should be spent or how spending should be prioritized or when he takes a 5 day pleasure trip outside the country over Mother’s Day weekend and the due date of our most recent pregnancy loss when I was 6 months pregnant with a broken toe and a leaking roof. My feelings told me something completely contrary to my beliefs and morals in these cases. My feelings told me that my love for him was fading…and that his love for me can’t possibly be the same as when we first married (his list of annoying things I do is also a mile long, I’m sure, but he doesn’t write this blog, so I’ll feel free to not list them here).
Thank God I don’t rely on my feelings about Mr. Amen to guide our marriage. I struggle some days with choosing to love. I am working on forcing my mouth to say nice words in a nice tone of voice because I know he feels loved and respected when I speak kindly to him. I am working on not leaving piles of paperwork sitting all over the counters because he feels anxious when things look unorganized. I am working on keeping a neutral facial expression when he talks to me about his mother because she is important to him and it hurts him that we don’t get along. I am trying to keep the toys picked up, the laundry on schedule, the dinners planned (taking into account his diet), the car clean, my clothes hung up and put in the dresser instead of strewn over the chair and hope chest in our bedroom, the floors mopped, learning how to pay the bills and keep track of our finances (he’s handled it since we married) and getting the basement organized, juggling roof repairs, childcare drop offs & pickups, doctor appointments, pregnancy hormones and a million other little tasks. These things are important to him and he’s asked me to work on them. At this stage of my pregnancy, with the cooler temperatures in Michigan being traded for warmer evenings and hotter days, most of these things are not high on my Oh-I-Can’t-Wait-To-Tackle-This list. I also work more than full time and am the project manager for three major projects all with due dates just before my newest little one’s due date. Additionally, I am finally getting some help at work; the higher-ups have decided at long last to hire a junior analyst for me. They hope to hire this new person soon so I can get them fully trained before going out on leave. (Good luck with that – they looked for me for over a year and they just posted the job last week).
If we relied on our feelings alone, our marriage would probably be in trouble multiple times a week. The thing about feelings is they ebb and flow with our emotions. So if the secularists are right, all these involuntary feelings and chemical reactions are causing me to feel like I love my husband or not. The world tells me that if it feels good, do it, but when it doesn’t feel good anymore, walk away. What a view of marriage that is! I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a relationship where when things get tough, one of us just walks away. I’m no picnic to live with; it makes me cringe to think about all the times Mr. Amen may have wanted to just walk away from me and our family because he didn’t feel like he loved me anymore. Feelings change. A marriage is supposed to be forever.
So the way I have to see it is that Love really is a sacrifice. It really is an offering. It really is self-donation. It really is willing the good of another. It really is a deliberate decision. And it really is my choice to love. So even though, I may get to a point where I don’t always feel it, I am going to choose love my husband right past that point. I’m going to keep making the decision each and every day that I love this man; that I want what’s best for him; that I really do think we have a better shot of getting to heaven with each other than without. And I will sacrifice myself for him. Every day.
That’s real love.