“Being in love,” that intoxicating feeling, is sublime, heady. It elevates us, changes our perceptions of the world, of our present, of our future. Our heart sings. Our dreams for ourselves ring with angelic voices.
But it can’t last; it isn’t meant to. It’s like learning an instrument. We hear an acoustic guitar and want to play it. There’s excitement at the beginning, the potential, the thrill. The learning process begins – and soon we find “this isn’t easy.” Playing an instrument requires commitment, focus, determination – and a whole lot of time.
The halo melts away. It is at this point that our will must engage – the will to believe, to faithe, to trust that we do love it even if we don’t feel it.
If we try to hang on to that halo we won’t advance. If we cling to that in-love-ness, the mere feelings, we will be using our will to cling to the mere romance of it rather than being propelled into deeper knowledge and proficiency. We’ll continue to romanticize – and we’ll be disappointed time and again as our largely illusory dream slams up against reality. I’m not knocking those in-love feelings. But feelings come and go, and yet love doesn’t have to.
I’ve often heard people say the Greek word “agape” means “God’s love.” But it doesn’t, since John 3:19 says “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved (agape) darkness rather than light.” That means they were wholeheartedly committed to darkness. Their love was a choice of their will.
That’s what God’s love is like. It is the wholehearted, committed giving of Himself even at His own expense.
The story is told of the great violinist Itzhak Perlman having a fan approach him and say, “I would give my life to play like you.” His reply? “Lady, I did.”
Marriage can be a lot of work at times. It is a giving over of oneself to a partnership, a union. That’s going to be costly at times, because to say “yes” to one thing is to say “no” to many other things. For me to be committed to playing music and writing means all of my work/hobby time is taken up with those things. I don’t have time to be a great photographer or fly model airplanes as well.
We vow to love, honor, cherish, till death do us part. That’s costly to the flesh that wants to do what it feels. Our flesh wants to avoid pain and find pleasure. That’s natural; that’s just the way the flesh is. Jesus, in the days of His flesh, attempted to avoid the pain of the Crucifixion there in the Garden.
But if we, like Jesus, recognize that we are not meant to be flesh-driven, that pleasure and pain are both included in the package, it will take much of the sting out of sorrows; This is going to be very hard at times, but in Christ I am filled full with everything I need to follow through.
In the end what we find, in marriage, guitar playing, and following Christ, is a deeper halo – not our dream for ourselves but “God’s idea of us when He devised us” (George MacDonald). We finally find the identity, and the daily expression of it, that we were made for. That’s real satisfaction and fulfillment.