Posts Tagged ‘love’

Is Love a Feeling?

Friday, March 18th, 2011


Is love a feeling? I had a lively debate about this with my husband about a year ago, in front of the people at our Bible study. We were both vehement in our positions and used Scripture to support our statements. I have to admit my husband made some good points, and at the end of our impromptu debate, a gray-haired man beamed from ear to ear and said he enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. So I thought I’d share our main points with you.

My husband was of the position that love was not a feeling. He said it was a commitment, that feelings were too fickle. Feelings would come and go, but love as I Corinthians 13 described it was all action. None of that love chapter contained emotion. He expounded on this at great length, and his arguments were sound. They seemed irrefutable.

He even described love for God not being based on emotion, because obedience to God is not something you always feel like doing. He mentioned that some Christians rely on their emotions as the authenticity of their commitment to God when in reality they are just working themselves up to a psychotic state, and for what purpose? To feel close to God when in reality, God might not be close to them at all. Emotional psychotic states mean nothing. You can take drugs to do that. Emotion in no way indicates closeness to God.

I countered by saying that love has to include feeling. Take the Good Samaritan story. We are commanded to love our neighbor, and how? We are supposed to FEEL compassion on a person that is beat-up, and that emotion is supposed to move us to action. The people who walked by and felt NOTHING were not loving their neighbor. If you don’t give a flip, you don’t love. Period.

I often feel the presence of God in my spirit. It is the most incredible calm. It’s joyful in a quiet way. I just can’t explain it, but it is definitely an emotion. And it’s real. Connecting with other people or with God is impossible without emotion.

My husband countered by saying that he’s also had personal experiences with God. But the point he was making was that you can’t base your relationship to God on your feelings.

But even Jesus had deep emotions. Seriously. Just read the gospels. And God the Father… Just read the prophets of the Old Testament and you will see how He yearns for us to come back to Him like a lover would, with deep emotional hurt. This is God we are talking about. I feel like my whole life I’ve been told that emotion is sin. But we’re commanded to love, and love includes emotion, because love is compassion.

Then I mentioned marriage. Of course, everyone knows that marriages that have no emotion are not good. Intimacy without emotion would be intolerable to me. I asked my husband if he would actually enjoy that. He had no answer. So there. Commitment without emotion is not what God wants for marriages, or for friendships, or even in our interactions with strangers. When we are commanded to love God and others, He means full blast (heart, soul, mind, and strength), not just halfway.

My husband would retort that commitment lasts longer than emotion, and that commitment doesn’t mean you have apathy. Commitment is much more full-blast than emotion, because it’s still there, even years later. If your love for people depends on your emotions, you will not do the right thing if your fickle emotions don’t come through. And since I gave a disproportionate amount of space to my side of the argument, I will go ahead and let him have the last word. You know, as a concession.

My Husband is a Man of God

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

my-husband-is-a-man-of-GodI would like to modify one thing about my love story, just to set things right, so that people don’t have a bad opinion about my husband. Even though Alan might have spent a few weeks living out of his car, he was never a bum. He was always a man of integrity, and he led me closer to Christ, even while living out of his car. For example, I felt like I was a piece of dirt, and I wanted to die. He parked his car, opened the Word of God, and spoke to me for hours about my identity in Christ. He spoke from Romans 6, 7, and 8. What he said just that one night changed my life. Never mind all the other times we talked about God. I still have tiny notes all over my Bible. What he was saying was true. Having grown up as a missionary kid, I had spent thousands of hours in the Word of God (voluntarily as well as in classes). I knew and had studied the Word of God deeply on a daily basis for years.

What I’m saying is, he was the strong one. He led me spiritually, even then. He was physically pure when I married him, and that mattered to me. His love for me was real, not some stupid fantasy that other men had of me when I knew that they didn’t really know me. I dated many guys (just one time each) from the churches I attended over the years. No one compared to Alan, not even a little. He was head and shoulders above the rest and blew them all out of the water. I kept trying to move on when I knew he was interested in someone else and not me, but I never really was satisfied with anyone else.

I just want to say that he has been a great husband. I thought my life halted and came to a ruined standstill after being raped by a complete stranger who stalked me and wore a mask. Even though both my husband and I were pure on our wedding night (because the rape didn’t count), we were both punished for the sins of another man. All I wanted to do was make love to my new husband, but what with the excruciating pain and the flashbacks, we went though hell together. Some day I will write a book about how God healed me on every level of my being. (It will be my magnum opus, my greatest contribution to the world. My conversations with God alone were incredible. My testimony has led to the healing of many rape victims.) But honestly, if it weren’t for Alan, I don’t know where I’d be today. He is my life, my love, my everything. Besides God, I mean.

I just wanted to write a tribute to my husband, and proclaim to the world that he is not a bum and never was. I knew his heart was gold, and I was right.

Just a couple of years ago our church did a marriage class. We were supposed to write down three things that bugged us the most about our spouse. I thought long and hard, and I couldn’t think of anything. There was a lot of quiet time where everyone was writing stuff down. After giving Alan plenty of time, I leaned over and asked him what he wrote. He backed up and showed me a blank page. He said he couldn’t think of anything bad about me.

I’m just going to let that sink in for a minute…

I told him that I couldn’t think of anything bad about him either. Do you realize what this means? This is absolutely staggering, but get this: We have an ideal marriage. And I don’t take it for granted. It was forged through intense fire, many times. Everyone who knows me covets my marriage, or wishes that their marriage was even half as good. I fall on my face before God, and I truly, truly thank God for the incredible husband that He has given me.

The Wedding (My Love Story Part 3)

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

my-love-story-3Something happened while I was engaged to Alan that infuriated me and caused me to wonder that if I married him, would I end up living on the street. I almost broke up with him. Was it worth being homeless to be married to Alan? My heart said yes, that I didn’t care, come what may, yes, yes, yes. But I was not stupid. During my engagement, the British guy told me to break up with Alan and marry him instead. I wrote a letter to the wisest woman on earth (the woman I rented a room from in college). I told her my head told me to go with the British guy, but my heart told me to go with Alan. Both men knew that I wanted 8 kids. Who could actually provide for my children?

The wisest woman on earth wrote me back and said, “My advice to you is to go with your heart.” I’ve never regretted it.

(As a parenthetical statement, the thing that infuriated me was the fact that Alan bought a used luxury car for $10,000 without paying cash. Right now, looking back, this seems reasonable. But back then I didn’t believe in going into debt to buy things. I didn’t want to start my marriage off in debt, because I knew this was one area that would always be rocky. To counteract this impending catastrophe, I saved up every penny I earned that year. I only made $14,000, and I managed to save $10,000. I rationed food and took every extra job I could, including babysitting teenagers in a rich mansion when they tried to throw a party behind my back. Anyway, instead of waiting for the wedding, Alan wanted me to wire him the money right away. I had a decision to make: would I trust Alan with my income before we were even married? It was worth more to me to have him know that I believed in him, so I wired him the money.)

I flew in ten days before the wedding, staying with my best friend Christie. I baked breads for the reception and froze them. We were on a low budget. My friend Christie decorated the reception hall. Alan had chosen a small chapel with stained-glass windows that reminded me of England. He definitely scored points there. But he had no minister. No minister?!?!? He said it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Having grown up as a missionary kid, the father of almost every friend I had was a minister. My own dad could have done it. But I didn’t want him to. I wanted him to walk me down the aisle. I asked my best friend’s dad. He refused. I wanted to scream. Finally the husband of my former piano teacher said he was willing, but that he had to interview us first. Great, I thought. I always hated the two years of piano; I used to pound on the piano with frustration. She probably remembered me as an immature teenager who shouldn’t get married, even though I was now almost 27 years old. And please don’t ask Alan if he’s ever held down a job. Gulp.

Thankfully, the minister was only interested in the spiritual side, making sure Alan was saved so that we weren’t unequally yoked. There was no premarital counseling. Nope. Just talking about Scripture, which is something Alan loved more than life, which first attracted me to his soul, with the inextricable bond of soul mates. Thank God I married him and not someone else. It wouldn’t have been fair to the other guy. I would have always wondered what it would have been like to be married to Alan.

So there I was, on a sweltering Texas day in July, with no air conditioning in the chapel. I stood outside the chapel, dripping, in a long-sleeved Victorian gown with a million pearly buttons. But I was happy. I was so happy I felt dizzy. As I walked down the aisle, I saw Alan in a tuxedo, looking mighty fine. I had wanted him for eight years. I had shed many tears for him though the years, pining away for him. And now he was mine…

My Love Story (Part 2)

Monday, February 14th, 2011

my-love-story-2Knowing how much he was hurting, I threw caution to the wind and told him I loved him. But he was still in love with the other woman. He told me I should go out with his greasy-haired friend with zits. I said I wasn’t interested. He said, “If you love me, you’ll do this favor for me.” I knew that the greasy-haired guy would kiss Alan’s feet if he was able to get me to go out with him. That was the reason I did it. So I got a free meal. Nothing happened. The guy was so happy and nervous; I felt sorry for him.

Alan took off to join the Air Force. Since my best friend Alan was gone, I had no reason to stay in California. I packed up all my belongings into my Toyota and drove to Texas, where my best friend Christie lived. Plus, the cute jerk boyfriend (from when I was in England) was there (I still liked him), and the sweet British guy who loved me was there. So I did my student teaching, and then I taught for two years at a Christian school. I needed two years of teaching experience in order to teach in England, which is where I wanted to live the rest of my life.

The jerk boyfriend went out with someone else, so that was over. I tried to brainwash myself to love the British guy, who is now a pastor in England. I did love him, after all. We were good friends. I thought long and hard about it. I wanted to be in love with him. Besides, if I married a British guy, I could spend the rest of my life in England.

Meanwhile I was getting phone calls all the time from Alan, whose phone bill must have been through the roof, considering that he was now stationed on an Air Force base in… of all places… England! We would talk for hours about everything under the sun.

I applied to all seven American schools in England, and one of them was interested in hiring me. So I bought a plane ticket to England. Oh, but before I left, I made a chart of pros and cons, comparing Alan to the British guy (as potential husband material). I decided to pursue the British guy, mostly because I wanted to live in England. Plus, I knew he loved me and I didn’t know where Alan stood.

So I had my interview (and later got the job), and I spent the rest of the month showing Alan around my favorite places in England. I saw the British guy, and I was primping and putting on perfume and asking Alan if I looked good, because I wanted to make sure the British guy was in love with me. I was stressed out. Later on when I was alone with Alan, I felt so much more relaxed. I always felt like I was at home with Alan, like I didn’t have to do anything. I could just sit there and do nothing, and it was comfortable. He started hugging me sometimes, and holding my hand.

One night while standing on a street in England, Alan was hugging me very intensely.  I said, “I love you,” and there was silence. I was angry and called him a jerk and ran away. No, wait. He was driving, so I said, “Take me to Sally’s house.” We drove in silence. I said that either we were friends, and never touch me at all (no hugs, no holding hands), or he could be my boyfriend. One or the other. I didn’t even care. “Just make up your mind,” I said.

The next day he decided to be my boyfriend. Our first kiss was spectacular. That was it. There was no going back. After dating for a year, we got engaged. I needed to finish my two-year teaching contract in London, so we were engaged for a year while he lived in Texas. I flew in ten days before the wedding, and then we lived happily ever after.

The Wedding (My Love Story Part 3)