We all chase love, but more specifically, we all chase the way love feels. After all, who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being in love? It’s the butterflies that you get when you’re about to see that special somebody or the rush you get when you talk about anything and everything until the wee hours of the morning. Love is a basic need that we have been created with, a need that was designed to be fulfilled in a specific way that our culture has unfortunately distorted. Because of this distortion, we spend our lives seeking someone to satisfy our desire to feel loved. Unfortunately, the people that we seek love from are looking for the same kind of “feel good” love we are, and that leads to a whole lot of unfulfilled expectations and broken hearts. The problem is that we base love on our own selfish needs and desires…or simply put, we base love on ourselves. I know I have.
In the aftermath of a divorce and numerous failed dating relationships, I began questioning if I even understood what love is. Going from being married for 11 years to being divorced was incredibly lonely because I was so used to being with someone and then found myself alone. I craved companionship. And I have seen so many others follow the same pattern. The loneliness you experience becomes so suffocating that you look for someone to help you feel loved again. And that is the reason that 67% of second and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. So this discouraged state I was in led me on a journey to discover a better, more satisfying type of love. Last year, I made a discovery that became a game changer for me.
I read an excerpt from a book by Herbert Armstrong, a pastor and evangelist from the mid-1900s, called “The Mystery of the Ages”. In the passage, Armstrong lays out a perspective of love that resonated deep within my soul. He defined love as “an outgoing concern toward others”. He described this type of love in a way that I had never heard before. This perspective of love implies proactivity, an outward focus, which is so contrary to the characterization of love that we see throughout our society today. We’re told love is a feeling, so if it doesn’t feel good it must not be love. But feelings can be dangerously deceptive. Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Show of hands…who can relate to that? I think that’s why Armstrong’s perspective of love is so refreshing and challenging to me. It flies in the face of how Hollywood says we should chase after the feeling of love and pushes the focus upon others and the commitment of love. “Men shall turn from the way of ‘get’ to the way of ‘give’ – God’s way of love.” Armstrong’s perspective on love is counter-cultural and embodies what I think God intended love to be.
Around the time of this discovery, my pastor preached on being doers of the word and not just hearers…that we should apply what we know and learn so that we can “plow deep instead of wide”. I have found applying this idea of love as outgoing concern in my relationship with Julie to be incredibly challenging. I run up against my own selfish desires often and find myself reverting to the lie of “feel good” love. But I also have found it to be a richer and more satisfying relationship than I have ever experienced before. It’s a love that makes me feel known and accepted for who I am no matter how fickle the feeling of love can tend to be. So if you’re tired of continuously realizing that “feel good” love doesn’t work, I recommend trying the approach of outgoing concern for others. It’ll be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.