I have a confession to make:
For the first time in my life (well, it’s actually been the case for almost 7 months now) i can honestly say that I am “in love.”
I know, Mister Love-is-a-choice-not-a-state-of-being has changed his mind.
And i’ll be honest: It’s the best feeling in the world.
But this does not mean that i have changed my mind about love being a choice. The feelings will disappear at some point. At some point, i will no longer feel like loving the woman God has placed in my life. But the woman God has placed in my life is to be loved, because the day we say “I do,” i am telling the world that i will fight to love her regardless of how i feel.
Love is a choice that is not dependent on feelings.
But this doesn’t mean that we need to be okay with letting the feelings disappear. I’d be perfectly happy being just as “in love” with this girl 70 years from now as I am today.
But how can we do this?
A former pastor of mine once explained:
Feelings follow behavior. Not the other way around . . . If you want your bad feeling to change, start doing the good thing. But if you use your feelings as an excuse, it’s never going to work.Stephen Feinstein, “Biblical Change, part 2,” July 22, 2012 (57:26).
In other words, orthodoxy (right beliefs) leads to orthopraxy (right practice), which leads to orthopathy (right feelings).
This is huge when it comes to fighting to hold onto the “in love” feeling that accompanies a dating relationship. We want to fight to still have it in our later married years.
So when it comes to romantic love, it starts with orthodoxy.
The “right belief” is that love is a choice regardless of my current feelings. The “right belief” is that regardless of my feelings, when i speak my wedding vows, i promise to love her even on the days when my feelings tell me to run far away as fast as possible. If i’m to be a man of integrity, i must stick to my vows (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). The “right belief” is that i believe these feelings can survive decades into a marriage.
Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy, as is evident from most of the beliefs i shared in the prior paragraph.
The “right practice” is that i act on my beliefs. I choose to love her despite how i feel. I fulfill my wedding vows. I fight for my marriage, no matter what might come. (Obviously, this section could be incredibly expanded, but i don’t want to make this post too lengthy.)
And orthopraxy leads to orthopathy.
If i do what i believe i am called by God to do (cf. Ephesians 5:25-33a), then the feelings will follow. It won’t necessarily be immediate (likely never immediately), but with much time, much faithfulness, and much practicing of my beliefs, the feelings will grow, and we will be octogenarians still just as madly “in love” as we are today.
However, this does not call us to pretend feelings when there are none. That would be lying, and lying does not promote trust. If feelings aren’t there, we should confess it to each other and fight for them to return, by going back to steps 1 and 2 (orthodoxy and orthopraxy). If the feelings are gone, it means either 1) our beliefs have become skewed or 2) our practice has become faulty.
By God’s grace, we can fight to stay “in love” until the end.
In conclusion, i proposed this past weekend, she said “yes,” and we are planning to be married before the end of the year. There’s no one else i want to walk through life with, and i am beyond excited that God has given me her to walk with through this life.
But more than that, i am happy that we both trust Jesus to carry us through this life. We both fully accept that we will let each other down, but because of Jesus, we can stand back up, keep walking, and continue to love each other.
Until death do us part.
In this with you (but primarily with her).
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading