Don’t give up on love!

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Have you given up on love? Men and women walking with God who get into serious relationships need to be patient with each other during difficult times. Often I have heard of two well-meaning people who lose a good relationship at the first sign of trouble. When the mushy feeling disappeared, when one ate ugali with their fingers instead of using a fork, when one said something un-classy etc. Many of these things are simple flaws yet you find men and women abandoning ship. If he mismatched his shoes and shirt, if she burped in public, if he farted loudly or if she was late for a date and other flaws that are not necessarily habitual, you find men and women giving up so fast on a good relationship. Why? Because we misunderstand what true love really is. Beloved, you could be missing out on a potential husband/wife who can actually change some of these minor flaws. It’s not the simplicity of the flaws that’s the issue here. It is your misconception of true love. But not everyone gives up on love in relationships because of minor flaws. Some of you have been terribly hurt in past relationships and in your vitriol proved that you would never love again. You even believed you were going to get married but things went south. The unfortunate thing about a heart-break is that the victim often cannot listen to reason. The truth is, however, that after time has helped them forget the pain, they often revoke their words. The truth is, many even try relationships once more. The ones who choose to remain bitter at the opposite sex often try justifying their position by witch-hunting for flaws among men and women. These people could even swear that unless it is logical, love ceases meaning. The issue with all groups of people in this paragraph is an untrained and possibly unseen view of true love. This is the anatomy of love 101 for the one who gives up too quickly.

Gym your heart

The physical human heart is a muscle. I see this as a dim reflection of the unseen heart that loves- the heart in David that was after God’s own, the heart in Esther when she stood up for her people, the heart in Christ when he went up on the cross. That heart too is an unseen muscle that must be trained. For it to act, it must have a proper grasp on what true love is. Otherwise if it gets no training like the physical heart does through pumping blood, it will die and render the human being loveless. People who have been through painful heartbreaks need to train their hearts to love again. People who dismiss others easily on flimsy grounds need that kind of training too. The heart in David and Esther wasn’t a natural love. David did not naturally love the Lord. Esther did not naturally love her people to the point of risking her own life. And even our Lord, Jesus battled internally and sweated what was like beads of blood before he accepted the cross. Our own hearts need to change in order to experience true love, especially with the opposite sex. The human heart cannot love naturally. Forget the sentimentalism of Disney sparks that the world falsely and immaturely calls love. I’m talking of real passionate commitment towards others. That doesn’t come easy or naturally. It may seem to do so when the relationship is new and the marriage is but a few weeks old, however its full phase and truest nature is manifest when the mushy feelings disappear and offences occur. A human heart at that point needs real training to be patient, kind, non-vengeful, with pleasant thoughts, selfless and characteristic of all virtue. If that training does not take place, even men and women with good intentions will give up on good relationships. Before you gym your heart, you need to understand the anatomy of love.

Love anatomy

Imagine love manifested in three concentric circles. C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters describes the outermost circle as emotional affection. The middle circle is intellectual and the innermost concentric circle is will. For the purposes of clarity, let me define the three. Emotional affection is prolonged imaginings and feel-good desires which often may have impossible outcomes. E.g. I will marry Kim Kardashian one day when she breaks up with Kanye. Intellect is the rationale capacity that enables us to comprehend how things are. E.g.If he loves me, he will get me a gift for my birthday. If he doesn’t he does not love me. Will is the intentional, uncoerced and selfless power to act on what is right regardless of opposing forces. E.g. She said many nasty things to me, but I will hold my tongue and be kind to her.

Emotional Affection Circle

We experience parts of love emotionally on the outermost concentric circle. E.g. we get flaccid when our crush walks into a room. We imagine holding their hand and the dopamine goes ballistic! When a girl or guy writes to me and says that their partner is leaving the relationship because the spark feeling is gone, I tell them that their partner has a limited, incomplete and unrealistic interpretation of love. They are living on the outermost concentric circle of emotional affection. For them love must be with romantic emotions 24/7. For them, love is Snow White and Cinderella feeling swoon under the arms of Prince Charming. You will be surprised that even grown men and women believe that this vanity should be the defining point of a relationship with the opposite sex. They likely believe that there is such a thing as “the one”- one person in the whole world God has destined them to marry. Because of this, they are picky and if not careful, they could be picky until kingdom come. Perfect partners do not exist. They only exist in TV screens and they are reading a director’s script to generate ratings and sales. Am I saying that love shouldn’t be emotional? No. What I’m putting out is that it is highly immature to expect love’s chief characteristic to be purely emotional for the rest of your life. The reality that the emotional affection circle does not like to hear is that relationships will have fights, bad days, anger, frustration and even distracting people who are “sexier” than your partner. If you don’t accept that, you will plunge yourself in a sea of deep disappointment. To constrict love to this circle is dangerous because men and women can go through umpteen empty relationships and still not find “the one”. I’m not saying the emotions aren’t real. Yes, we do experience the steamy emotions. In fact I still have the hots for my wife! I look forward to romantic Friday nights, all alone. But we cannot restrict love to this circle. Emotions cannot fuel a relationship forever to keep it going, beloved. It is a fantasy if it limits our understanding of love, because as soon as trouble sets in, it disappears.

Intellectual Circle

We experience love rationally on the concentric circle of intellect. E.g. a child knows a parent loves them because the parent provides materially, expresses physical affection through hugs and touch. The intellectual circle interprets these actions as signs of love. There is a need. It is met. I am loved. Love at this circle is important but it’s not sufficient to define love either. Love restricted to the intellect can be very conditional. Men and women can place ifs and becauses to justify remaining in abusive relationships. He loves me because he bought me a gift. But have you factored in the fact that he hits you? She loves me because she spent the weekend with me? But have you factored in the fact that she has done so with everyone else. Not everything logical means love. Men and women can do logical things unlovingly. I have also often received emails and talked to several person who say, “If she loved me, she wouldn’t have said that.” “If he loved me, he would have gotten me the right gift.” If love is restricted to an intellectual, logical circle, there will be no room for imperfection when the gift is not bought.

This is not to condone irresponsible talk and ignorance of one’s love languages in the name of imperfection. Nay. However, love at this level needs to comprehend that not everything can be reasoned out. And if reason is the core of love, then people who hate us black can give us gifts maliciously and we can call it affection. Love at this circle can be marred by hypocrisy. It needs emotion but it also needs a special ingredient. Will.

Will Circle

The third and deepest expression and knowledge of love occurs on the will circle. This is love that chooses to act even when the emotions of the outer circle are depleted. This is love that acts even when the intellectual interpretation demands that the recompense deserved is punishment and not affection. The love in the will circle does not override feelings and intellect; it merely acts in spite of them. The love of the will chooses to act not “because of” but rather “despite of”. The training of true, undying, lasting love occurs in the arena of the will. The heart becomes a trained muscle that can love despite emotion and reason. This love is called by the those in the emotional circle, unromantic. This love is called by those in the intellectual circle, unreasonable. But this same love is what is called by God, true love. You see love governed by will automatically covers the emotions and the intellect.

Love in the will circle knows that if it loves even when the feelings are gone, the relationship will last and deeper everlasting feelings will develop that the emotional affection circle knows not of. Love in the will circle is also logical. It knows that if it chooses to call an “unmissed’ family member, be good to their frustrating spouse, be kind to those that irritate them and choose to speak in calmness in tense situations, the best outcome will emerge. Love of the will knows that Proverbs 15:1 is the best way to settle an argument. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Prov 15:1). You see to love like this is not mechanical. To love like this is not impossible.

To love like this is not burdensome. To love like this is practised. Where? Is there a school for it? Yes. The school is through a personal relationship with Christ. Christ is the epitome of love in the will circle. Christ endured insults, mockery, whips, and even murder only to forgive these very people. And those people include you and I. That kind of love washes away the sinfulness of humanity. And anyone that accepts Christ by confessing his Lordship with their mouth and believing in their heart that God raised him from the dead shall begin to be schooled on how to love like this. This love is what makes good marriages enviable. This love is what makes a true follower of Christ admirable. This love is what makes relationships with the opposite sex beautiful. But realize this beloved, that this love is not sourced from fellow humans. This love is sourced from Christ directly. You don’t need a boyfriend or girlfriend to experience it. You just need to look at the cross. You need to see that when you were unlovable, he took your pain, whips, chains, death and gave you his reward. If you source it from Christ, you have it and it is enough. This love, forgives all things, endures all things, believes all things and trains the muscles of our heart to never give up on each other. Don’t give up on love!

Comments

Ernest Wamboye is a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, an author and a speaker. He has been married to the lovely Waturi since September 2012. They have a passion for youth ministry. Together they minister to young adults on the gospel and pre-marital relationships. Ernest has authored two books, The Human Temple, a novel, and Lust and the City- a guide on sexual purity.

Discussion24 Comments

  1. 'How do I learn how to be in a relationship if I am not in one?' Most single people ask that question and I think the best way to answer it is to love those around you. Actively and willingly.
    " Love in the will circle is also logical. It knows that if it chooses to call an “unmissed’ family member, be good to their frustrating spouse, be kind to those that irritate them and choose to speak in calmness in tense situations, the best outcome will emerge."
    I highlight that excerpt because it demonstrates this. It is how you love your friends and relatives that exercises your will. Or 'gyms' your heart as you put it Ernest. One does not have to wait for a partner to start learning. If I want to be a patient spouse, (or more likely if I want a patient spouse 🙂 ) then I have to learn to be patient now; with those around me and the situations I encounter.
    Thanks for such an insightful view of love. I think it is one that most of us have to relearn, especially considering what we constantly take in as the definition of love.
    I must also compliment your writing. Your articles have a good flow and are easy to understand.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Cynthia 🙂 I love what you said: "If I want to be a patient spouse, (or more likely if I want a patient spouse 🙂 ) then I have to learn to be patient now; with those around me and the situations I encounter." That is so profound! Wow! Thank you for the compliment. Keep reading!

  2. I really and truly appreciate the pearls of wisdom rendered in this edifying piece. Ernest, you are being used by God in ways beyond your imagination and I pray that HIS spirit continues to flow in your penmanship. Barikiwa brother. I sincerely pray that Turi and yourself will grow from strength to strength.

  3. Thank you Ernest for writing this piece. You have made such a complex topic so simple to understand. It was interesting learning the different stages of love and how each of them are important. Thank you for not just defining love, but pointing us to the source of all love-Jesus Christ.
    The thing I find most exciting is that this 'Jesus' kind of love is not earned, and I don't have to be dating anyone to experience it. All I need to do is to be with Jesus…that is most liberating!
    Thank you once again.
    Blessings to you and Turi!

  4. Thank God for always inspiring us .This is not under your own ability but God using you to communicate to us.God bless you and may He be with you as you do what you do best.

  5. Thanks so much for these wise teachings. God bless you and your marriage. I almost gave up on believing that God has that one special person for me. I now choose to be patient and work towards becoming a husband-to-be and father-to-be who seeks life's answers from the Bible and Prayer.
    Baraka Tele…

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