Have you ever had a song that you haven’t heard in years suddenly pop in your head? Without a hint of warning, the tune is bouncing around your brain,, and the lyrics burst forth from your lips. It’s uncanny, isn’t it? Why can I recall a song from my childhood, and I can’t remember my grocery list? The brain works in mysterious ways. So does the heart.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:12 – NIV
“I’ve looked at love from both sides now, from give and take and still somehow, it’s love’s illusions I recall, I really don’t know love at all”.
-From “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell
Have you looked at love from both sides? Have you felt it deep within your bones, then watched it flutter away? In the give and take, did love feel certain and secure, only to later find it was just an illusion?
“Illusions of love,” the song regales. In our endless quest for love, we often find weak imitations in our relationships. It’s a bitter disapointment to find a lack of depth in the feelings we thought to be so deep, so true.
It strikes me, that far too often, we chase after the illusions of love, instead of making the choice to offer real love. We chase after a feeling, instead of being willing to take action. We wait for things to feel right, instead of just doing right.
Let’s face it. Relationships are hard. Long lasting, loving relationships are fraught with difficult stretches. Whether it is a dating relationship, a marriage, a friendship, or the bond between parent and child, the task of maintaining healthy, loving relationships is a challenging endeavor.
Perhaps the difficulty lies in our expectations. We expect to “feel” love for our spouse, our parent, our child. We expect fairy tale feelings of honeymoon and roses, of sweetness and sugar cookies. Yet, sometimes the circumstances we find ourselves facing in our relationships feel far from “happily ever after”.
Life is hard. Bad things happen. People disappoint us. Trust is broken. Sickness strikes. Frustrations frazzle our nerves. We find that we no longer “feel” love for the very person we once vowed to love.
Focusing too much on our feelings can be a slippery slope. Feelings are flimsy, ebbing back and forth, influenced by everything from stress to hormones to sleep patterns. Our emotions fluctuate so readily that they often leave us swirling in confusion.
Real love is anchored in action. When we act in love, we often find that we begin to “feel” love. If we wait for the feeling of love to strike, it may never come. However, when we take a step of faith and reach out, we might just find that love shows up.
Real love is not just a mouthful of frilly words. It is putting our words into action. When we show compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and generosity,our actions show love in a way mere words cannot fully convey. Actions speak of substance,significance, sincerity. It’s not just talking the talk. It’s walking the walk, and that is a far more powerful message.
Have you lost that loving feeling? and now it’s gone, gone, gone? )I Know, I know. There‘s another old song rattling around in my brain!)
But seriously… if we have lost that loving feeling, perhaps it’s because we let it leave. Do you want to find it again? Start by showing love. Offer acts of kindness. Serve without demand for reciprocity. Forgive the slight. Overlook the infraction. Act lovingly, even when you don’t feel so loving.
Why? Because when we act in love, the feelings often follow. When we treat others well without strings attached, they feel our love, and the thawing of cold hard feelings begins, not just on their part, but on ours too. When we see the light of appreciation in their eyes or catch a glimpse of a grateful smile, it stirs up the smoldering embers in our own hearts. By giving our love away, with a spirit of good will, we might just find that we get it back.
One more thought, don’t neglect to pray. Pray over your relationships. Pray for a change in your attitude. Pray for the ability to love the other person as Christ loves you. God is love. When we open our hearts to God, when we lay down our hurts and heartaches at His feet, God can help us find the way back to the love we lost.
Love…It’s what the world needs now. (Oh my! There’s another song for you!) Real love is rooted in action, not just illusions wrapped up in pretty words. Real love is what we all need. Let’s find a way to share some today!
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.
1 John 3:18-19 – NIV
O Dear Lord, we come to You desiring hearts full of love and compassion, but often finding frustration and disappointment instead. We want to “feel” love, yet far too often, the feeling escapes us. Let our hearts be made right, and our love be real. Help us to reach out in love, even when it’s hard. We thank You for your unfailing love for us, even when we fail to love as we should. We praise You, Lord, this day and always.
In the Loving Name of Jesus, we pray,