Friday, January 25, 2013

Feelings! Nothing Else But Feelings?

Keep on pursuing love... 1 Corinthians 14:1

Learning to love is not easy for some people. Those who have been hurt emotionally find it difficult not only to give love but also to receive love. They live lonely lives and wonder why others do not love them. The basic problem lies with the wrong idea what love is all about. To them, love is an emotion and so "if I don't feel it, I don't show it".

Yes, we do feel emotional when we are in love or love someone but that is not the full story. Love is also an act of the will. We don't feel loving all the time and we definitely do not depend upon our "feeling" in order to love. When a spouse says, "I don't love you any more", he or she simply means, "I don't feel the love emotion for you right now". If the angry spouse were to cool down and think carefully, he or she actually does love his or her spouse. In fact, that goes with any types of relationship - whether they are between siblings, friends and relatives, we do love and care even some times, we do not feel like it.

Pastor Dick Innes shared about his own fear to love because of a negative experience in his past. He wanted to learn how to love and confided with one of his friends who gave a very good advice, "Just do the loving things". This fantastic advice has to do with the act of the will. It means when I don't feel the love emotion, I continue to produce actions of love, concern and care in spite of how I feel.

Some may question whether this is hypocrisy - that I am not acting how I feel. The answer is that there are at least two meanings to the word "feeling" in this context. One has to do with 'emotion' and the other has to do with 'conviction'.

For example, at a certain time of the month, my wife behaves a little 'weird'. Her behavior is a little spicy and so I have to be careful. I know that it's the "woman's thing" and do I doubt her love for me in time like this? Of course not! There are times when I retreat to my cave because I am not happy about certain things that my wife does. Yes, I may need time to get over my feelings but that does not mean that I do not love her. My wife is a smart woman and she knows that it is best to allow me to hibernate in my cave without disturbing me.

What I feel at that moment does matter to me but it must not be the catalyst of quarrels and disharmony. Coming out of the cave does not mean that such feeling is gone completely. The short solitary moment just makes it easier to manage the initial feeling of unhappiness. I have learned that the best option to overcome such feeling is to continue to do the "loving things". The amazing thing is that given lots of practice, doing the "loving things" becomes second nature. Yes, you read me right... it takes lots of practice. To be honest, I am still practicing but hope to graduate soon.

Conviction is another story. When I say that "I feel that racialism is bad", I will stand by my conviction whether I have any emotional attachment to it or not. It will be hypocrisy when to some, I say, "It is not okay" and then to others I say, "It is okay".

Now it is clear that if I act kindly and lovingly even when I don't feel like it has nothing to do with hypocrisy, then is this decision of mine also my conviction? This is a choice that I have made and a decision that I will live with for the rest of my life. To reiterate, it is indeed my conviction that even though when I do not feel loving, I must continue to show actions of love and care.

Affection is a must in a love relationship and so do be affectionate. On occasions when the well of feelings becomes a little dry and showing actions of love become tedious, then it is time to seek God for more love. Wait in the presence of God and let Him soak you with His eternal love. When you come out of this encounter, you will find that it is so much easier to love both with feelings or without them. That makes the journey of life with the people you love so much more exciting and endearing. The best of it is that the people around you can see the love of Christ shinning out of your life.

Remember, God is our endless source of love.

Albert Kang

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