STOP FEELING; START LOVING!
One of the most heart-breaking
moments in anybody’s life (even though few will admit) is the realization that
Disney relationships are not real- that we can have our idea of love destroyed
by the reality of relationships. We are currently at a point in history where
relationships are craved for more than anything and at the same time loathed
more than bitter gall. In both extremes, men and women are the way they are
because of a truth that you don’t need a Bible verse to know. Either way I will
quote a Bible verse to let you know. It’s this: Proverbs 19:22a “What a man
desires is unfailing love.” Steel heart or puffy heart, we all have this
innate deep desire to be cared for and loved unconditionally. To be loved
without being betrayed. To be loved without feeling pain. To be longed for and
craved for by someone else. What a man desires is unfailing love. And in this
great desire to find the one true love, we have found briars and thorns,
thistles and scorn, liars and porn. The result is heartbreak.
briars, thorns and thistles of life prick us painfully and prove that life is
not a bed of roses- and if it is, the thorns are still intact. Hearts have been
broken because lovers have scorned them, liars have robbed them and porn has
dried them of passion. Men and women are constantly trying to get love from all
the wrong places. I believe in the following principle- things don’t go
wrong; they start wrong. When the foundations of any pursuit are wrong, it
doesn’t matter how honest and innocent the building is, it will fall down; you
will be heartbroken. If you start wrong, you will go wrong. If the foundations
are wrong, it doesn’t matter how awesome the building looks and how long it took
to erect it, it will not stand. Examine your relationships with the opposite
sex. Are they inconsistent? Are they temporal even when you want them to be
permanent? Are they healthy? Are you even hopeful for some or you’re too bitter
and discouraged because your heart has been broken every time; your building
has crashed every time? You expended your time, energy and resources and you
don’t want to risk love again because it hurts. Are your relationships working?
If your answer is no in any of the scenarios, I dare say that your foundations could
be wrong and your building will fall if it hasn’t already. And with that hopeless
paragraph, I begin today’s blog.
We place weak
foundations of feelings in our relationships
I can bet you my salary that the
heartbreak patients I mentioned at the start often place feelings as the
foundations of their relationships. I know it too cause I’ve heard it. A friend
of mine was in a relationship that was obviously ruining her and this is what
she said to me: “But we will have cute babies.” Stop laughing, it’s true. When
I asked a friend of mine why he ended a relationship with a decent girl, he
said to me: “I didn’t feel the relationship anymore.” Another one said: “I
don’t feel like he loves me.” And then there was: “I don’t feel in love
anymore.” Feelings! Feelings! Feelings! We’ve all caught feelings and it will
be the death of us when it comes to committed relationships. By the way, if
your idea of a relationship is “let’s-date-for-fun” you can stop reading now
because you will waste your time. If your desire is to get that girl to walk
down the aisle or get that guy to be your husband, you have to learn to place
the right foundation- and feelings are not it.
What’s the right
The essence of true love (yes, true
love- undisney, untelevised, realistic and satisfying) especially in a marriage
is a commitment first and a feeling second. The right foundation of a committed
relationship is your commitment first then your feelings- not the other way
around. The world bases love as a feeling first and a commitment second.
Because of this misplaced order, lots of relationships that begin on feelings
end so quickly that the members hardly taste commitment. So they jump from
relationship to relationship, divorce to divorce seeking “feelings” of love. If
you ask them why they left the relationship, they say, “They didn't love each
other anymore.” Yet the truth is, there was no true love in the first place.
Why? True love is a commitment first and a feeling second. What existed was a
fuzzy emotional thrill that can even last more than two years in an ideal
environment, Beloved. When after two years the mushy feelings cease, the person
concludes that love has died. This is the relationship between feelings and
commitment. Feelings lead to temporal commitment and commitment always leads to
Feelings lead to temporal
When you walk into an event and you
see the person you like standing by themselves, what do you feel? Chances are
whatever you feel leads you to act. You get them a drink. You pull their seat.
You ask if they are okay. You talk to them and make them feel great. What are
those actions? Those actions are commitments. You are expending your time,
attention and energy to make the person feel loved. You are committing. You are
actually loving this person because love is a verb and not a noun. Love is an
action, a commitment. What happens when after you have done all these things,
the person you like then excuses him/herself. You inquire why. They tell you
they have a special date with their boyfriend! Or girlfriend (if they’re a
dude!) Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What’s going on here! Before you gather yourself their
boyfriend/girlfriend walks up, hugs them warmly and they walk out arm in arm
deeply in love. What happens to those feelings of yours now? I’ll tell you what
happens to them. They start to die. And when they start to die you stop
committing. Feelings only produce temporal commitments. When they’re gone,
commitment is gone.
So are feelings bad? No! They’re
perfect! Feelings help us be human and live real lives. However important they
are, they cannot be the foundation of a relationship because they come and go!
You may say, “Wait a minute, Ernest. But that was different. I’m going to
have a relationship with faithfulness and trust unlike the solemn picture of
the boyfriend/girlfriend you painted back there.” True, you may and I hope
you will. But don’t you realize, it doesn’t take something as devious as
infidelity to change your feelings. Your feelings can be changed by your
hormones! Or by the weather! Your feelings can be changed when Arsenal beats
Manchester United! Your feelings are constantly shifting and if you place them
as a foundation to marry or date someone, you will proverbially say this when
the feelings are gone: “He’s not the one!” or “She’s not the one.” Beloved, let
me get a bit brash- to expect your relationships to endure because you felt
something is immature. Well what is mature? I’ll tell you what- commitment.
There are some of you who think by now that I am saying that relationships have
to be like a job you don’t like- all work no feel! Deliver and go! Well, you’re
wrong. I’m not saying that. And here’s why.
leads to lasting feelings.
There is no such thing as a
relationship without feelings. It either rocks or it bores; you feel. Even
those who say, “I feel nothing” for him/her are not emotionally honest with
themselves because indifference is simply hatred off the charts. Apathy is the
mature stage of hatred. Just because you cannot record it does not mean you
don’t have feelings. Just because the thermometer isn’t working doesn’t mean
the room is not hot. You cannot jump into the swimming pool and not get wet.
Feelings are here to stay!
I never did like doing dishes
growing up. My siblings know this. When I got married though, I realized that I
had made a commitment to Turi “for better or for worse.” When she once asked me
to help her with the dishes, honestly, I was turned off. I did not feel good
about it. But I did the dishes anyway. That night as I washed, she cooked and
we had such an intimate conversation between us. The next time she asked me to
do dishes, I did not feel like doing them again. My feelings were ugh! Yet
still I did the dishes and we talked again. With time, I realized something-
that I enjoyed talking to my wife as I did dishes. I still did not like doing
dishes but soon everything changed. I began doing dishes because I enjoyed
spending time with her. When she wasn’t in the kitchen anymore and asked me to
do dishes, I felt like I had lost my incentive to clean the dishes. Who would I
talk to now? Still, I committed to do the dishes even when she was not in the
kitchen. Things changed again. I committed to doing the dishes until a time
came when I found myself doing dishes even when she wasn’t at home! The creepy
thing about it is that not only did I not need an incentive to do the dishes, I
ended up enjoying doing them! I saw that pile of greasy plates smiling at me
and I smiled back at them as I dipped them in the hot soapy water- honest!
Ladies, if you are looking for the best guy in the world who can do dishes, I’m
sorry, my wife beat you to it!
Why am I saying all these things? To
teach you something important. And that thing is this- that commitment always
leads to lasting feelings. I don’t see myself disliking doing dishes at home. When
you commit to a cause and you kick out your nasty attitude, you develop
feelings for it (naturally). The innate desire to feel good is fulfilled.
That’s why Jesus commanded us to pray and do good to our enemies and even to those
who hate us because he knew if we commit first we will love them eventually.
But if we go with our feelings first, we will never show the world that we love
them whether they are of other religions or living in ways contrary to the Scriptures.
We don’t have to agree with their views of life but we can love them! And if
you have given your life to Christ, please realize that this is easier for you
than for others. Because the Word says in Romans 5:5 that God, through His Holy
Spirit, has poured love into our hearts. We have a booster to start to commit-
the Holy Spirit. But we should remember that The Holy Spirit won’t push us when
we are unwilling. We must commit. When we commit to serve, our feelings will
When love is a commitment first,
the meaning of “For better or for worse” makes sense because even when you
don’t “feel” you choose to commit knowing you will feel the love eventually.
And believe me the times of “not feeling” in relationships always come! If you thought
relationships always have that giddy feel when a teen likes another, you’re
either in for a shocker or in for a crushing disappointment- either way you’re
wrong. That is why marriage, of all relationships, is upheld by several
cultures and religions. Marriage was a gift to humanity not to a particular religion.
When you stand in front of people and say "I will" and “I do” you are
making a commitment that you are obliged to live up to. That’s what makes you
married far beyond exchanging goats or walking down a church aisle- the public
commitment to the family of your new spouse that you will commit to them till
death do you part. However, know this, when you marry, date or court someone
you will (guaranteed, for-sure, I-kid-you-not) eventually fall out of feelings.
It would be awfully foolish if after you lose the feelings you try to rekindle
them with “another” guy or girl who you think is “the one”. That is how
infidelity works- looking for feelings because yours ran out. It is immature
and it is vain by all standards.
When you have no commitment and
witnesses, it is easy to avoid all the problems that present themselves by
walking away. That’s why even though science proves that co-habitation is one
of the unhealthiest relationship institutions on earth, people still insist
against the facts and the truth. They do not what to lose their “independence”
yet they do not see that the only way to experience satisfying love is to surrender
your independence and vulnerability despite your feelings- commit! That is also
why many young Christian people who do not want to get married are simply held
back because they have placed feelings as the foundation of their relationship
fantasies. They may not know this overtly but they are seeking thrill that does
not bind them because the thrill does not promise to last. To make it sound
profound, they will say, "I choose love, not marriage." That is
equivalent to saying "I choose to swim, but not to get wet." Nobody
wants to get wet because they think getting wet must not be love. Love is
swimming across that pool with your partner. Many who drown gave up because the
feelings died. You must choose to fulfil your commitment, Beloved, because
marriage's purpose from our God was more to make you sanctified more than to
make you “feel in love.” What do I mean? The process of committing even when
the good feelings are absent is a sanctifying process. That’s how you get
pruned in marriage! That’s is how you bear the fruit of patience, gentleness,
kindness, etc. Those characteristics are demanded from you not because you feel
but because you committed! It’s an incredibly beautiful sanctifying process of
the soul and it is more important that you seeking Disney feelings of sunset
with birds chirping in the trees.
The feelings that
come after commitment last!
The person who chooses commitment
first eventually ends up having strong feelings that don’t easily fade. The
feelings that come when commitment is elevated are infinitely stronger than the
initial fuzzy feel. The person who chooses feelings first loses both the
feelings and many times never tastes commitment. For that reason, they never
feel loved because nobody has committed to them and neither have they loved
(they've never committed). They may even use sex to generate more feelings to
keep the relationship going, yet it doesn't work like that. Why? Allow me to
give a blunt illustration. At the start of the holocaust, the Nazis killed the
Jews because they hated the Jews but eventually the Nazis hated the Jews
because they killed the Jews. Your feelings follow your actions. That is why
some arranged marriages can work out brilliantly! (Not that I advocate for
them!) However, it is good to note that ancient marriages were seldom based on
romantic love. Children were raised up and taught their responsibilities for
their future marriages as the core part of the relationships with the opposite
sex. Those marriages worked. Why? They were taught that commitment came first!
heartbreaks are because of feelings
“So are you saying, Ernest, that I
should stick in even when the relationship is abusive?” If you are dating, get
out. If you are married, seek help from the authorities and from a counsellor. What
I’m saying is this though: Don’t give up potentially permanent relationships
with mature godly people based on temporal immature feelings. The best of this
kind of committed love is when it is balanced with has commitment from both
parties. When one person stays in a relationship because of the feelings while
the partner stays because of commitment, the latter is likely to suffer a
damaging heartbreak if by an awful stroke of luck the relationship ended. Why?
They loved their partner! The former may easily move on because their pursuit
is higher feelings. They are driven by infatuation. What they do not know is
that they may never settle unless they choose to love- unless they choose to
commit. People in love don’t get married happily. People who get married
happily choose to love, by choosing to commit first. Feelings always follow
commitment. If you have thought of love as the feelings you relish in when you
spend time with the most amazing person on earth, you may be surprised that you
stopped loving them the moment you knew them really well with their frailties.
For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Now
that’s a commitment and those who stay true to the commitment always reap the
beautiful feelings of love.
commitment; the greatest love!
You may be saying, “‘Ernest,
that was a long blog and I’m sorry you wasted time to type it out because I’m
not going to do that!” If I didn’t catch you in the first 13 paragraphs, I
just might in this last one. Consider Jesus Christ. He had nothing to gain by
coming to this earth. He left a heavenly realm for a broken world. What for?
For us? Yes. Yet, in Genesis, it says that He looked at humanity and His heart
broke. In Exodus it says that we frustrated Him with our pride and
stubbornness. In Leviticus, it says we broke His laws. In Deuteronomy, it says
we disregarded His statutes. And I could go on and on. And it doesn’t end with Revelation.
It continues to you! You hurt Him. You fail him, over and over! You stick to
bad decisions. You think you are better than others. You hurt others but don’t
like being hurt. You think you know it all. You lie, you cheat, and you lust.
And you don’t admit that the person I have described could be you; you’re
proud. I know it because I am that person too. And yet the Bible says that
Christ came for you and I when we were so unloving and so undeserving and he
committed to us and died for us so that the bad description I just mentioned
could be taken away from you when you die- so that you may enjoy the goodness
of a Holy, Holy, Holy God. So that your Father in heaven could love you, Someone
(Jesus) put his feelings aside, put commitment first and died on a cross on your
behalf. God could have taken it out on you but he took it out on Jesus through
whips and crucifixion. Jesus knew that the best relationships have a foundation
of commitment first and that feelings come later- and that is true love! Proverbs
19:22a “What a man desires is unfailing love.” We have it! We have it
from Christ! Unfailing love even after we fail him! He did it for us. And he
committed to your eternity on that cross so that for 10,000 years bright
shining as the sun we will enjoy feelings that this earth doesn’t even
comprehend yet. And ten thousand is just the start of eternity. If you feel you
cannot commit where you don’t feel mushy feelings, I implore you to humble
yourself and consider the greatest commitment; consider the greatest love
hanging on that cross. Commit to others but even more commit to Him because he
did it for you. For where you treasure is, your heart will be. Where your
investment is your heart will be. Where your priority is your heart will be.
Where your commitment is your heart will be.
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Labels: Commitment, Dating, Feelings, Marriage, Men, Relationships, Women