“It just doesn’t feel like you love me.”
Years ago, I sat across from my young friend trying not to appear stunned.
“What do you mean, I don’t love you?”, I thought with confusion. Had she forgotten I had shared my life with her, included her, deferred to her, given her unmerited opportunities, defended her, blessed her, encouraged her, prayed with and for her, and overlooked noteworthy offenses? I had purposely invested in her life as much as she would allow, doing for this friend what would be best for her in the long run. My love for her was unquestioned, at least in my own mind.
And now she said she didn’t feel loved. My heart ached. I know that I don’t love perfectly, that my love is flawed. Yet, I struggled in the weeks following that conversation, trying to resist wanting to abandon the whole thing entirely. I mean, if I go to all that time and energy to love and it isn’t noticed or felt, what is the point?
Yet, love insists that we continue loving anyway.
Here is an important point. Love doesn’t have to be felt, in order to be real. Sure, I hope it is felt. I hope that feelings and reality line up in proper fashion. In fact, we should go to great lengths to help others feel our love, and my flesh desires that I receive the credit. But credit or no, loving still remains our responsibility, and the feelings remain theirs.
Feelings are tricky things. They can bolster our faith in many ways, but they can also trip us up. They can blind us to truth, leading us down a path of confusion. Yet, feelings follow our beliefs, not the other way around. If my friend would have believed that I loved her, she would have perhaps felt it. However, because she didn’t believe that I loved her, she felt unloved.
That’s why love is characterized by believing the best about another person (1 Corinthians 13). God knows that what we believe soon turns into what we feel. Had my friend believed the best about me, she would have had the capacity to feel my love.
But you need to know that this little monologue is not really about my friend.
It’s about me, and I suppose about you. I need to preach to my own soul here. How often do we fail to “feel” loved, by our friends, our spouse, or our God? Yes, it could be that our friend or spouse really don’t love us. Probably more often than not they do, but just do so imperfectly. Or they do, and we fail to be loving ourselves, by believing the best about them.
However, the Bible says that God loves us perfectly, and still we sometimes “feel” unloved. We don’t like the circumstances he has allowed for us. We don’t feel His presence. We don’t see him answer our prayers in the way that we want.
Does it mean that God has stopped loving?
No. When we feel unloved by God it is because we have stopped believing the best about him. We have inverted our feelings and beliefs, making feelings the standard for our reality instead of what is actually true. When we feel unloved, we feel insecure. When we feel insecure, we do funny things. We have a hard time living loved.
Before we point the finger at another’s lack of love for us, let’s check to see if we are living in Love, believing the best about the other person, and believing that God truly loves us.
No matter how we feel.
Wanting to believe the best,
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