[love: a choice or a feeling?]
Now I know–and I have taught over and over–that “love” is not a feeling, but a commitment. Well pardon my Lenten blubbering here, but sometimes the feeling of love can be pretty intoxicating and even necessary.
David S. Hayes
(Check the entire blog post here)
A friend of mine wrote those words and as I read ‘em I thought of all the discussions I’ve had and all I’ve heard about this.
Like I mentioned in my comment to that blog post, I think we have made such an emphasis on love being a choice, a commitment, that it lost half of its value. Why half? Because Love is both a choice and a feeling. We cannot commit without feeling anything, and we cannot feel anything serious without choosing to feel.
I sometimes debate with myself, and as I was writing this sentence above, a part of me wondered “But, why sometimes you just don’t feel anything, yet you know you are supposed to love that person.”
I admit that is something I struggle with. When I remind myself that God commanded (not asked or said it would be a great plus, but commanded) me to love others, I start looking for ways how I can be civil without really loving. When you don’t even want to feel anything for that person because you’d rather have as little to do with them as possible, it is exactly when we truly start learning how to love people.
First, you need a choice. You need to choose to love that person no matter what happens. Sometimes it comes quite naturally when the one you need to love is a great friend. More often, however, it feels as if you are walking headfirst into a wall. You try and… it just does not work. You get hurt, get over it, get back on track… and the wall is there again, looming gloomily.
However, that’s when the feeling comes. For me, the reason for feeling love for other people is that I believe that in every single person there’s a piece of God’s image. Sometimes it’s so well hidden that you forget it was supposed to be there, but it is there. And if I love God, well, His image is a part of Him.
A choice and a feeling.
You need both oars to get the boat of Love going. Without choice, the feeling might come but more likely it will never even bother. Without feeling, Love would turn into a chore instead of the most amazing experience a person can have.
Jesus made a choice to come down to us. He made that choice based on the feeling He had. So I guess the order of feeling / choice is not strict, either.
What do you think about this issue of love being a choice / commitment or feeling? Does choice always come first or it’s the feeling? Can one really love without choosing to?