What do you think about this? Did you have a boyfriend in High School that you *loved* but you don't have any feelings towards now (and rarely even think of him)? Maybe you were married before and would not say that you love that ex-husband now? Does that mean you never loved them in the first place?
I think I could write a book about this, but I'll try to keep it to one blog post - we'll see if that's possible (*wink*).
(1) I watched an interview with Paul Tripp where he excellently explained some of the problems in marriages. This is a quote from that interview:
"I was meant to live in these two communities: Loving worship of God and inner dependent love of my neighbor – but sin turns me in on myself.
Sin causes me to think: “I don’t actually love you – I like you in my life as long as you are loving me as much as I love me – Sin actually causes me to dehumanize the people in my life.
People become either vehicles or obstacles.
So we go through the courtship process (flowers, cards and chocolates - dreams are made and hearts are filled) in smiles because we have met someone who loves us as much as we love ourselves. Who WOULDN'T love someone who worshipped the same idol (and this feeling is mutual)?
But then life happens. You have in-laws. You have children. There are struggles. All of a sudden, the other person is not showing us all that attention. Maybe they have other hobbies. Maybe they have a rigorous work schedule. Whatever it is, they are simply unable to continue the high maintenance courting relationship - and you suddenly feel as if you never loved them in the first place.
This is exactly what Satan, the father of lies, the hater of marriage and family, would have you believe. This makes you vulnerable to temptation of a new love (which will have the same tragic ending).
This friction and disappointment was designed to show us that we are looking for Someone to fulfill all our dreams. We are looking for Someone to love us unconditionally. We are looking for Someone to sacrifice it all for us. We are looking for Jesus, the Savior who sacrificed His life for us. He is the only One who can fulfill all our desires. No man can ever meet all our expectations, but Jesus can not only meet them - He exceeds them!
(2) There are different types of love. Unfortunately the English language has only one word for this *feeling*, but the Greeks had four (reference Wikipedia)
- Storge (Affection) is fondness through familiarity, especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.
- Phileo (Friendship) is the love between friends. Friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common interest or activity.
- Eros (Romantic) is love in the sense of 'being in love' or loving me.
- Agape (unconditional love, charity) is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. C.S. Lewis recognizes this as the greatest of loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue...focuses on the need of subordinating the natural loves to the love of God, who is full of charitable love.
So when we first fall in love we are experiencing an Eros love. It is erotic and emotional. All we have to do is think of the other person and we feel all bubbly inside. Sometimes, if two people really do have a lot in common (although I find that God usually desires to grow us through marriage so He chooses to put opposites together), they may develop a Phileo love for each other - so they become good friends.
But then something happens. Maybe someone is in an accident or experienced a debilitating disease like a stroke or cancer. Maybe this person's heart gets hard and they grow meaner and colder as each year passes. Maybe you experienced the loss of a baby or infertility. Maybe they are addicted to alcohol or drugs and life is not the fairytale you pictured.
At this point, if a person does not have a greater love for God than they do for themselves or their spouse, the marriage will crumble. Agape love is the love of choice. I choose to love and respect you because of the love God has for me. Because while I was still an ugly sinner in complete rebellion against God, He sent His Son to die for me on the cross at Calvary.
If He can do that for me, I can choose to spend my life - for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer - with you.
Unless you have experienced a heart transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit, this will sound like nonsense. Once you have experienced this undeserved, fulfilling love from God, then you know that you can love the unloveable because you have the power of God on your side.
I can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
(3) And my last point is that be careful with your emotions. They can blind you to reality. They cannot be trusted. I once convinced myself that I did not love my husband and that I had made a wrong choice when I got married. I gave up on my marriage when it got difficult. The horrible thing was that I used God as part of my excuse. My ex did not love God (I knew that going into the marriage, but the eros love told me that love can fix anything) and I used that to excuse my horrible behavior. My emotions could not be trusted, even though I told myself I was looking for a new mate who loved God.
The ironic thing is that I did find a man who said he was a Christian - although neither of us were walking with the Lord. Soon after the trouble began in our relationship, God did a big, humongous work in both of our lives. He showed us how ugly in sin we were and then He saved us.
So now I have an ex-husband. We did not have children together so I don't have a need to talk with him. Do I still love him? Not in an eros sense of the word, but I do still care about him. I pray for his soul and that God will show Himself to him. I pray for his current family. But I do not hate him and I do not even dislike him. I am thankful for the time we had together because I know God used all of that to make me the person I am today. It can all - even the selfish, ugly, sinful choices I made - be used for His glory!