She sees the man that she has fallen in love with whisper gently into the ear of his estranged wife. For a moment her glance lingers and her face holds the look of shock, disappointment and pain. No longer able to stand the sight, she turns and runs out of the building, tears weighing on the edge of her eyelids. Then he turns around to see that she’s gone. Quickly he sprints out into the streets and finds her dashing away aimlessly, stumbling over the broken pieces of her heart. He makes chase and hands her a letter, a letter he wrote a week ago, a letter that expressed his revelation that the pursuit of his former life was all in vain and the life he desired was the one with her. Two lovers locked into a stare that penetrates the depth of the soul soon lean into an embracing kiss. Alone on a dimly lit and empty city street, standing amidst puddles of the recent rain reflecting the soft light of the moon, two people found the love they had been looking for in the most unsuspecting place.
Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for her role in the movie Silver Linings Playbook. Emily and I recently rented this DVD and enjoyed the entertainment of it. It had an aspect of mental health awareness that we are both passionate about and it also did a good job of fostering emotion through a romantic connection. It’s the long-standing and developing education of the entertainment industry of “love”. The feeling itself is not artificial, it’s the feeling you get when you date a person for the first time, when things are new and exciting, when its mainly the endearing qualities that you see in a person. Most often this is where the movie ends so this is where we are left understanding what love is, but love is more than a feeling.
Not too long ago I counseled a young man that left a relationship after a couple of years because he no longer felt in love with his girlfriend anymore. He wanted to explore more of his options and he had been spending time with a co-worker who had elicited this feeling that he seemed to have lost with his girlfriend. My first inquiry was to see how he identified love and I proceeded to tell him that love is the commitment that exists when the feeling may be absent. The example I gave was when you have you little children, the excitement of romance often takes a backseat to diaper changes, nap times, preparing meals, playing with toys reading books, and then cleaning it all up at the end of the day. Date nights become essential and intentional. Love is the bond that makes two people rediscover the feelings felt, the commitment between two people that stand by each other when the wells of emotion run dry and the will to fill the reservoir of passion once again.
Many people become Christians and are driven by the emotion of their new life in Christ. This zealousness has a tendency to fade with time, much like young romances do. Often, when the feelings are gone people leave their church to seek out the feeling in another church. There are churches out there that offer more exciting music, or more activities, or better facilities. In 2 Timothy 4:3 Paul warns Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires”. The love of Jesus is the commitment to the Gospel, even when the feelings may be gone. Attempts to reignite the zeal of a new believer are good and necessary as long as they are committed and grounded in the Gospel. Many people are leaving the Christian faith altogether or adapting to some variation of sound doctrine because it feels better.
That’s the message out there today, “Do what makes you feel good”, even though it may come at the expense of your family, your marriage, your job, your integrity, your health and your eternal relationship with the Lord, the God of all creation. Love is more than a feeling. Love is a commitment and fights to regain the feelings that once fueled the passion of fire in your hearts. This new prescription of love breeds individualism and self-centered living. A world that is driven by what feels good will eventually consume itself and die. In your marriage, in your families, in your churches, in your communities, find your joy in the commitment you make to these things, it may require intentional effort, diligence and a lot of communication, but it’s all worth it, for that is what love truly is all about. -j