Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The "In Love" Deception

Love is not...

... a feeling.

Let me say that again.  Love is NOT a feeling.  Sure, there are feelings and affections that go along with love, especially at the beginning of a relationship, but those feelings are. not. love.  And actually, it is quite possible to love someone very well for whom you sometimes, or maybe even frequently, have no affection at all.

Unfortunately, our culture has made the grave mistake of calling those exciting feelings we have at the beginning of a relationship being "in love".  And we have fallen for it hard.  The problem is those feelings, although they are tremendous fun, cannot last.  They just can't.  We would never get anything accomplished if they did.  Life has to go on.  We have work to do.  And so those affections must come to an end.

Well, that's not entirely true.  They don't come to a complete end.  They just morph into feelings that are more mature and deeper.  But the mature feelings aren't nearly as potent as the "chemistry"-induced feelings we used to have for the person.

Notice what I said there.  The feelings morph into something more mature.  Our culture idolizes being "in love" as something rare to attain to, but that concept is completely backwards.  Being "in love" is the most immature point in any relationship.  It is the starting point.  It is a lot of fun, like I said, but those feelings are a gift from God and they serve a purpose.

Why does God give us those feelings if they aren't meant to last?  I think, partly because if we never felt them, then we'd never come to a point of wanting to live sacrificially for anyone.  And as I said in the post just before this one, true love is action, selflessness, and self-sacrifice regardless of how you feel.

So the next time you see in a movie, read in a book, or even have someone say to you, "I love you, but I'm not in love with you," you'll know that that is actually a big, fat lie.  All it really means is that they are not feeling the ushy-gushy feelings they want to feel, that they are more committed to those feelings than they are to you, and furthermore, they aren't willing to live selflessly for you.  It is the ultimate selfish statement.  So, not only are they not in love with you, but they also do not love you.

Love is NOT a feeling.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Show Me Some Action!

Love is...

... an action.  No, I take that back.  Love is many actions over the course of many years.  Love is work.  Hard work.  And love has nothing to do with whether we feel like working at it or not.  Frequently, if we want our marriage to work, we must work at it precisely when we feel least like doing so.  It is living selflessly and self-sacrificially when that's the last thing we want to do.  In fact, every description and definition of love that the Bible gives is summarized in this way.

The way I'm describing love may sound like it's a grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it kind of situation, and sometimes it is.  But the only way to find joy in marriage is through selflessness.  Even though it is counter-intuitive, that joy comes not through seeking joy for yourself, but in ridding yourself of the things you think will bring you joy in order to bring joy to your spouse.

Love is action.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Does He Have to be So...???!!!

Love is...

... understanding that your husband is a man and, in addition to that, men are different from women.  I know... sounds obvious, right?  But if it's such an easy concept to comprehend, then why does our culture consistently, unrelentingly, want men to behave like women and then complain when they don't?

In addition to obvious physiological differences, men think differently, see differently, hear differently, emote differently, and so on.  Just because our culture worships the way women do these things, doesn't mean men are stupid (as is so often infuriatingly depicted on TV sitcoms).  They are just, as I said, different... and those differences are. not. wrong.  The sooner we ladies believe this and seek to understand our husbands' strengths and how those strengths complement our weaknesses, the sooner we will have peace in our homes.

Of course, part of the problem is, we don't really believe we have weaknesses, right?  That's not a very comfortable thought.  But admitting we are weak in certain areas isn't a bad thing and it does not mean there is something wrong with us.  We have strengths, too.  And our strengths complement our husbands' weaknesses.  Why do we think we should be strong in everything?  And how much sense does that make?  It's an obvious impossibility.

So, the next time you disagree with your husband on a particular issue and think he is absolutely crazy for seeing things the way he does, take a minute and consider that he may actually be right.  He may actually be stronger in that area than you are.  In your weakness, you can't see that.  It sure does feel like he's wrong.  But that feeling has absolutely nothing to do with whether you are actually right or not.  Give his perspective a chance.  You just might find out that he's right after all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Woman-Liberating Love, Part 2: The "S" Word

Love is...

... woman liberating.

When people in our culture look at the Bible, they tend to think it is oppressive toward women.  But in order to believe that, they have to leave out at least one-half of the picture.  Sure, the Bible says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22).  Notice that it does not say, "Women, submit to men."  No, women are not under the authority of men.  A particular woman is under the authority of her particular husband only.  But I'm not really going to focus on that in this post.

Many people get wrapped around the axle over the "s" word (submission).  What they fail to notice is what comes directly after this command in that passage.  Ephesians 5:25, 28-29:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...."

"...husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church...."

See what happens here?  Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church.  And just how does Christ love the church?  By dying for her.  Simply stated, husbands are supposed to love their wives so well that they are eager and willing to die for her.  A godly husband who lives this out is so concerned for his wife's welfare that he is always seeking her best interests.  He is always seeking to die to himself, i.e., to live selflessly, serving her, not as a weak man, but as one who is confident and strong and seeks her good in all that he does.

[As an aside:  The opposite of this is a man who lords his authority over his wife, commanding her to submit to him no matter how selfishly he may deal with her.  This is never acceptable in God's sight.]

So, how is this liberating for women?  I mean, a wife still has to submit to her husband, right?  And how is she liberated if she is under someone else's authority?  Well, she is liberated in the sense that the burden of responsibility is not hers to bear.  Her husband is the one who bears that burden.  When God looks down on a household and sees that a wife is in distress and the children are unruly, He sees the husband/father as responsible for that.

This isn't to say that wives are not responsible for anything.  However, a wife is responsible only for those things which Scripture says she must do, namely, loving and serving God, respecting her husband, loving her children, and managing her household well.

Feminism, on the other hand, takes a wife's already challenging tasks and lays the husband's responsibilities on top of them, leaving the men not responsible for anything.  Now, that is slavery.

Love is woman liberating.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Love Means Never Having to Say..." Wait. What?!

In 1970, a movie called "Love Story" came out.  While many of us, myself included, have never seen the film (which coined the term "chick flick", by the way), we have certainly seen and heard it's most infamous line:

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." 

This little line has been printed on t-shirts, mugs, key chains, bumper stickers, and cards, and is celebrated as profound.  Well, I am here to say it is ABSOLUTE IDIOCY!!!

[Even Ali MacGraw herself (the main actress in "Love Story" who uttered the infamous line) denounces it here.]

Love means quite the opposite of never having to say you're sorry.  Love means saying you're sorry often, at times when you know you were wrong, at times when you're not sure if you were or not, and most importantly, at times when you "know" you were right.  That's right.  Even then.

Humbling yourself and saying "I'm sorry" is a balm on the wound of a fight with your loved one.  It goes a long way in healing relationships.  It is good for the soul.

*Thanks to my friend, Bonnie, for the tip on the interview!  :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wobble, Clank, Sputter, Bang


Love is...

... trusting your husband about which car problem needs to be fixed first even though you really, really, really don't feel like he's right (and auto maintenance is all about female hunches, right?).  Chances are he knows considerably more about it than you do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But How Could There be Any Other Explanation?!


Love is...

... always assuming the best about your spouse's intentions no matter how bad they appear to be and graciously (as in, not accusingly) asking (as in, not telling) him what he meant by what he did.  You just might be surprised.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Woman-Liberating Love, Part 1

Love is...

... woman liberating.

Possibly the first recorded acts of women's lib occur in the Old Testament.  I know that sounds shocking because we read the laws in Leviticus and elsewhere and think about how awful it must have been for women in that day.  But it is the height of modern arrogance for us to think we could even begin to understand what it was like to live in those times and then to chastise God for the way He chose to deal with women.

Our problem is we're coming at it from the wrong perspective.  Sure, from a 21st-century point of view, those laws sound awful.  What modern-day woman would want to have lived in those days?  But if we think about it from the perspective of where those women were coming from, we get a completely different take on it.

In that time, other cultures did not have laws which protected women.  Women could be tossed out on the street like garbage.  They could be used by men and no one had to do anything about it because women were worse than second-class citizens.  A man did not have to be faithful to his wife and he could get rid of her whenever he wished.  If a woman was a virgin and she was raped, no man would have married her and her parents might have disowned her.  If she got pregnant as a result of the rape, no one was required to help her or her baby.  No one would have provided for her.  There were no protections for her whatsoever.

But then, God looked down on the women of Israel with love and compassion, and came to Moses to give the Hebrews laws which required men to be faithful to their wives and to provide for them.  If any man did not provide for his wife, he would have been punished.  It was a shame to him.

If an unmarried woman was raped, the offender had to at least offer to marry her or be punished.  This sounds terrible to our 21-century ears.  What woman would want to marry the man who raped her?!  Not only that, but shouldn't he be punished?!  But let me reiterate.  Those women were coming from a completely different perspective than we are.  The reason for this law was because no one would have wanted to marry her and she would have no one to provide for her and take care of her.  And forget it if the rape had resulted in pregnancy!  But because of God's love for the women of His people, He refused to allow those atrocities to take place any longer.

Can you see now how these things were a protection for women?  There was no other recourse for them.  And pagan cultures certainly didn't have laws which required men to take care of women and provide for them.  Contrary to the lies we've been taught in our day, the Mosaic laws were revolutionary for women... in a very good way.

Love is woman-liberating.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can I Get a Little Credit Here?!


Love is...

... willingly taking the one piece of toast that you accidentally burnt, or the smallest piece of chicken even though it isn't really enough, or the soggiest salad that, to be honest, grosses you out, or the dregs in the potato chip bag that really don't qualify as chips, all so that the rest of your family can have the good stuff... and all without complaining or saying a thing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bone-Breaking Love

Love is...

... bone-breaking 

If you have ever experienced pain or suffering, the link above is for you.  I couldn't have said it better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

But It's SO Annoying!


Love is...

... when you almost trip over your husband's shoes because they are in the middle of the floor... again, and he didn't clean up the coffee that spilled on the counter... again, and his dirty clothes are right next to the hamper... again, and all of this is piling on top of other things you're irritated about, so you feel like you're going to blow your top, but instead of nagging him about it, you pray for grace to remember that you do things that bother him, too (and isn't he just a little more gracious about it than you are?), and you thank God for all the wonderful, selfless things he does do, like work hard all. day. long., and help with the kids, and take out the trash, and mow the lawn, and auto maintenance... and then you surprise him by making his favorite supper, "Just because."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Violence to End All Violence

Love is...

... Christ, who left perfect, joyful paradise to become a helpless baby born in a filthy, stinking barn, in order to live a flawlessly obedient life in a foul, heartache-filled world.  And why?  To save and liberate a people who did not know they needed saving, and even if they did, did not want His type of liberation.  Yes, He came to preach and teach, to reign and to judge, but just as importantly, He came to be rejected, despised, and executed by His own family, His own people, His own home, His own government, and ultimately, His. own. Father.

His own Father?!

Yes.  God the Father is perfectly blameless and just and, therefore, must punish all who do not live up to His perfect standard of law.  But Christ, who was completely innocent, stood in His people's place before the Just Judge and said, "I will take the blame for the tremendous failings and disobedience of My people.  I will become the wretched filth with which they have filled the earth.  And I will suffer the punishment that they deserve so that, when they turn to me in sorrow over their disobedience and believe that what I have done is their only hope, they may have a home in paradise with Me."

People often speak of our sin crucifying Christ and God turning His back on His Son while we tortured and killed Him, but only half of that is true.  While it is true that He was crucified because of our sin, it was Christ's own Father who raged against Him in full force, not at all turning His back on Him, but facing Him head on and throwing every bit of His wrath and judgment at Him. What it looked like was this:  He was stripped down to nakedness, spit on, beaten to a pulp, whipped with leather straps that had sharp bits of bone and metal on the ends of them, his skin was torn off, his muscles and bones were exposed, all to the point of being completely unrecognizable even to those who were closest to Him.  He was made to carry His own unbelievably heavy cross to the crucifixion site, and was made fun of and spit on some more by the crowd who came to be entertained by all of this.  And finally, long spikes were driven through His wrists and feet into His cross.  Hanging there, in misery we can't even begin to understand, He died.  And this only describes what could observed.  Who can imagine what other internal anguish He experienced? 

This was the Father's wrath against His Son because of what He had chosen to become.  This was the final violence for God's people.

All of this to save a people who cannot and do not deserve God's mercy.

Christ is perfectly self-sacrificing.  Christ. is. Love.

Friday, October 1, 2010

But I'M the One Who Needs a Break!


Love is...

... when you're at the end of a long, hard day and you're on the verge of tears because nothing seemed to go right, the children were especially difficult, (and you weren't such a sweet rose yourself), and you can't wait until your husband gets home from work so you can tell him all about it, not to mention get a little help and relief (but he's running late - who does he think he is, anyway?!  He gets to have adult conversations all day!), but then, when he finally walks in the door, he has that downcast, exhausted, dejected, look on his face that says, "I've had a horrible day," and you bite your tongue, ask the Lord for grace, wrap your arms around your husband, and say, "Why don't you put your feet up, Honey.  I'll get you something to drink."