Love is the strongest force in the world, yes? I have been taught by my Christian upbringing that love is a choice and by the world that love is a feeling.
My own experience has echoed the latter to me more than the former. I have chosen my feelings over what is right almost every time. Passion is what love has been to me. The stronger I feel about a person, the more I love them. Regardless of what I know, my heart leads the way.
This passion rocks me and I love it. That is the key. The uncomfortable truth. But I get ahead of myself…
What does it mean to love God? I have felt passionately about my God before. I have delighted in the sensation of a close walk with Him. That was love to me. When this sensation was present in my relationship with Him, I chose it. When the feelings dropped away and it became hard work, I stopped “loving” Him. I started to feel listless. I was going through the motions… I started to cast about in my world for something to ground my feelings in, because to me, my feelings were true love.
Something quickly came along and though I could fill pages and pages with my journey away from what was right, and how strongly my passions raged, I want to zero in on the core issue for me.
I did not love God.
I said I did. I felt that I did. But when it came right down to it, I loved myself supremely. When the choice to love God aligned with my desire to love myself, we were good. But God wisely removed that motivation and I fell hard.
What is so important about loving God? Besides His command?
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”
I quickly, through the rough plowing of the Holy Spirit and the pain that my feelings brought me, became ready for the answer behind God’s command.
Every time I choose myself, I choose a small death. A part of my character, discipline, and truth starts to die. When you lose sight of what is true and you have also lost the ability to rouse yourself out of your selfish laziness of spirit, borne by the coma that constant giving in to your feelings brings, you start to die on the inside. It's the difference between being a couch-potato and working hard.
My observation of my behavior was eye-opening to say the least. With my feelings at the helm and God out of my picture, who I was without God started to surface again. My tongue became uncontrollable, my thoughts started to run wild, I started pleasure-seeking in social media and in my personal relationships, just to fill the empty space that my self-love started to grow. As I started to squeeze my personal relationships for the fulfillment that only God could give, they started to sour. I became hyper-sensitive to rejection because my priority was how I felt and how people made me feel.
God knew this. He wanted me to have life. He tells me to love Him, because linked to Him, I have the only chance that we humans ever have to be alive. Choosing God is a daily, moment-by-moment love story that is based only on fact, not feelings.
Telling your flesh ‘no’ is like finding out you aren’t in the group you wanted to be in at camp. It feels awful and you tend to start imagining how it would be if it was different and you imagine that every other group in the camp is having more fun. Stop imagining. Stop those feelings of dissatisfaction in what God has given you, but look for the good, be thankful and choose Him and choose the people around you.
True love. It doesn’t seek its own, because it has no need of fulfillment outside of God. If it is rejected, it moves along and prays for that person, knowing that God sees and is pleased. If it provides support for someone, that true love does not seek its own glory or any thanks but seeks to turn hearts to God.
True love is not a feeling. Feelings are feelings. Feelings do come. And when you sit on that hillside and talk to Him in the sunshine, there is no better place in all the world. When you look into a face and tell them of God’s love and see that life changed, there is no greater reward. But, all those feelings, the bloom of steady joy in your chest and the blush of pleasure, come only from the daily little choices to love God. And that is true love.
Eliza was raised in a family of nine in the farmlands of Pennsylvania and later on the backwoods of Tennessee. Never a very good spectator, she prefers to be in the middle of things, whether that be at home or abroad. She enjoys telling a good yarn and loves using her capers to convey the goodness of God.