More Than A Feeling
By Beth Mabe Gianopulos
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11 (MSG)
As a young child, I mistakenly believed that some feelings were good and other feelings were bad. I began to fear some feelings, such as sadness, and I attempted to avoid feelings like anger.
As I grew, I tried to embrace “good” feelings like happiness, and I tried to repress “bad” feelings like loneliness. When I fell into depression, I began to feel out of control because I could no longer control my feelings.
The harder I tried to control my feelings, the more out of control I became. Because I often felt sad, which I believed was a “bad” feeling, I thought that I was bad. I also worried that I was disappointing God because there were many times that I felt anything but love for my family and friends.
I sometimes felt irritated, frustrated, and even angry. I worried that I did not truly love my family and friends because of the way that I felt.
In Philippians 1:9-11 (MSG), Paul prays that “your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.” Paul goes on to say that we need to learn to love appropriately, and we need to use our head to test our feelings so that our love is sincere and not only sentimental. Paul instructs us to love with an intelligent, sincere love so that others will see our love, and through our love, they may come to know Christ.
It has taken years for me to accept that feelings are not bad or good. Feelings are just feelings. No matter how hard I try, I can’t control my feelings, but I can control my actions. Paul reminds us that sometimes we may feel overwhelmed with sentimental emotion and love, but that may not be a true, deep love.
I had mistakenly believed that love was measured by the strength and intensity of my emotions. However, love is much more than a feeling. Love is a choice, and love is action. Love is choosing to love someone even when you don't "feel" it.
Sometimes I am angry at my husband or my kids, and I feel anything but love in that moment. But if I choose to act in love - if I choose to continue to do my best to be loving, then I am loving not just with my emotions and feelings, but I am loving with sincerity and intelligence.
I am loving by choice, and I am loving with my actions. True love produces fruits from the soul, and causes us to act in a way that exemplifies Christ.
If you struggle with feelings, or if you worry that you do not always feel loving toward others, stop focusing so much on your feelings. Instead, think about the choices that you can make every day. Even if you do not feel love, think about how you may choose to act with love.
My prayer for each of you is that you will be able to choose love - choose to act with love, even when you may not feel love.
Jesus, Thank You for teaching us that love is more than a feeling. Help us to choose love. Help us to act with love, even when we don’t feel intense emotional love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2017 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Tuesday, 07 March 2017.