Tag: C.S. Lewis

Two Truths About Not Being “In Love”

Love

I would venture to guess that one of the most commonly used reasons for ending marriages in our culture is “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you anymore.” It’s the ready-made answer for ending the marriage that no longer meets our needs and desires. I confess that I am 100% guilty of saying this in the past.

On the surface it seems like a logical reason. Why would you continue to pursue a relationship when you’re no longer in love with your spouse? I’ve had a number of friends tell me that they are no longer “in love” with their wives. I was able to talk with most of them and I’m glad to say a few of them dug in, did the work and are still together.

Before I move on, let me clarify two things. First, there is nothing wrong with being “in love.” It’s a wonderful affair. It’s an amazing convergence of feeling like you might die and like you could live forever. I loved falling in love with my wife. Where the “in love” feeling becomes a negative thing is when we use it as an excuse to dismantle a union which we have promised to honor. Second, I’m in no way saying that if you are in an abusive or dangerous relationship, or one where your spouse is actively sinning against you, that you have to stay. If that’s the case, God loves you too much to watch you be continually hurt. You need to make decisions that are focused on your (and any children involved) safety and well-being. If that’s your current situation, find a Christian community that will help and support you, speak with a counselor, or law enforcement.

It is out of these conversations with my friends, and my own experience and study, I have discovered two profound truths about the statement: “I love you, but I’m not IN love with you anymore.”   Without mincing words:

Truth #1

The person may not feel the same “in love” feeling anymore, but they also do not love their spouse.

Being “in love” is a feeling, although it’s probably more of a collection of feelings, but nonetheless still a feeling. The feeling of “in love” is meant to draw and connect us to another person with the purpose of making a commitment to love only them. Because “in love” is a feeling, it can shift and is no more sustainable than the feeling of excitement. “In love” is akin to striking a match; it flickers with the breeze and is easily blown out. Its sole purpose is to light the flame of mature love that isn’t as easily influenced by the whims of other elements. Mature love has weathered trials and is hardened like steel by the flames of difficulty and success. Mature love exists regardless of, and in the face of, waxing and waning feelings. Mature love is a love that decides to stay because it’s rooted in something deeper than feelings. Being “in love” with someone and loving someone are completely different.

Because being “in love” is a feeling, when you say that you love your spouse, but you’re not “in love” anymore, you’re telling a half truth. The true part is that you no longer feel “in love” because that feeling is simply unsustainable. What isn’t true is that you love your spouse. If you loved them, how you feel would be less important than doing the work to mature the relationship. I don’t mean to make it sound easy; it surely isn’t. Marriage is probably (for most people anyway) the one thing you will have to work at harder than anything else. Ever.

If you love someone, then you keep the promise and put in the work. If your marriage is based on feeling “in love,” then you misunderstand what love is and how it works.

Truth #2

This statement is solely based on, and grounded in, selfishness.

When you make love all about your feelings and you’re willing to end your marriage when it doesn’t feel the way you want, then you’ve eliminated the other person from the equation. That’s selfishness. You’re selfish. Genuine love is always about the other person. John 3:16 shows us that God’s love for us moved Him to give to us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son…” so the WE could be saved. He, God, GAVE for US. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  Love gives – it does not give up.

I’m not saying that you can’t want to feel “in love.” We are made to give and receive love. We are creatures of love. I hope and pray that we all get to feel loved, but feelings aren’t useful for determining how we love others. Genuine love is always about the other person, regardless of feeling. That’s mature love.

I’ll close with this quote from C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity

“Ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

What does love mean to you?

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2 Reasons Why You Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For

searching-man-1521494

As “blog launch day” has drawn near, I really struggled with what to write for the inaugural TWM post. There’s so many ways I could have gone, but a lot of what I thought to say about this site is already in the MANifestio (should be done in the next week or so), so it didn’t seem helpful to just rewrite it here. But then I thought about the one thing that connects all of us. It’s something that Hollywood has known for so long and has exploited to make fists full of dollars selling kiddie pool deep rom-coms. It’s the Jerry Maguire, “you complete me” syndrome. It’s our need to find that one thing or one person that will help make us feel whole. That missing element that will signal our completion. We lay the weight of all our hurt and all our expectations onto it, in hopes that it can bear the burden and make things “right.”

Really this is something that all of us deal with, it’s hardly unique to men, but since TWM is directed at men, this blog is going to talk about the things that they seek in an attempt to feel whole. Realistically that list is pages long, and hopefully over the life of this blog we’ll cover many of those things. For this post, we’ll say that it basically boils down to four things: Profession, Possessions, Persons, and Power. Most men attempt to fill that empty space with one of those things. Some pour all of themselves into their career in an attempt to “be known.” For some, it is stuff; the biggest TV, newest phone or nicest car. You can even put things like pornography, gambling or other addictions into this category as ways that men attempt to fill the voided space. Others look to a spouse, partner, group of friends or even his kids as a way to define who he is and feel accomplished. And still others try to use power in an effort to “be somebody.” Somehow, at the end of all that, there’s still a space; still a void that inexplicably can’t be filled.

Before I go any further let me define “wholeness” as I’m using it. In James 1:4, in talking about tests to our faith, the writer says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) uses the words “complete” and “whole” accordingly. One of the main things I want to do is differentiate the idea of wholeness and perfection. Often biblical translators use both words somewhat interchangeably. Merriam-Webster defines perfect as, “being entirely without fault or defect, flawless” and “lacking in no essential detail: complete.” But as for whole, MW defines it as, “recovered from a wound or injury:  restored” and “physically, mentally and emotionally sound.” For the purposes of TWM, perfection occurs when Jesus comes back or we die and enter eternity. Perfection isn’t possible this side of eternity, but the pursuit of perfection is possible and wholeness is part of that. When I say wholeness I’m talking about being restored and healed. I’m talking about Jesus reconciling us to God, healing our hurts and making us a new creation. That does happen this side of eternity.

In our attempt to find wholeness, we’ve convinced ourselves that that “one thing” is out there and we just need to look long enough or search harder. Unfortunately so many men search their entire life and never feel quite whole. Some may get close to feeling fulfilled, but that’s not the typical story. If you google the phrase “something is missing in my life,” you’ll get about 218,000,000 results, and a lot of them are quizzes and tests to help you figure it out. Clearly there’s a lot of opinions on how to find wholeness. Obviously I’m not going to provide some profound insight into wholeness, nor do I have all the answers, but from what I’ve experienced and conversations I’ve had with other guys, I’ve found that there are two reasons that most men have difficulty finding wholeness.

 1. You’re looking in the wrong place.

C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Logically, if there are 218,000,000 resources to help you find that “thing” that will make you whole and there’s still an enormous amount of people still looking, maybe Lewis is onto something. Maybe it isn’t that we’re not looking hard enough, but that we’re looking in the wrong place. Maybe we’re not meant to find wholeness in this world. If wholeness is possible and we’ve been unable to find it in the things of this world, maybe we ought to start looking in other places.

An easy argument might be to look to other religions that offer a more holistic response to the “who am I?” question. Unfortunately every other religion, whether outright or subtly, tells us that we need to try harder. They still put the responsibility on us to find that “one thing.” Christianity doesn’t do that. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He’s offering us the ability to come to Him and rest so that He can exchange incompleteness for wholeness.

To be clear, it isn’t instantaneous and it isn’t some magic formula. It’s a process of rebuilding and healing. Restoration and healing take time. Given time and a commitment and connection to a community of other Christians that love you, wholeness comes.

2. You’re unwilling to be open.

Most of the conversations I’ve had with other guys revealed that their inability to be “satisfied” with their life is really a result of some level of stubbornness or unwillingness to be open about their hurts and struggles. I know, it’s not a popular thing for men to talk about their feelings, and we’ll talk about that more as time goes on, but it doesn’t change the fact that being closed off affects your ability to find wholeness. Often times a major road block to wholeness is a lack of healing for the wounds that we carry. I don’t presume that being open about our hurts is easy.  I know it isn’t.  However, I do know being open is essential to achieving a sense of wholeness. At the very least it’s necessary to begin the process of actually seeking wholeness.

I think one of the most beneficial things I’ve done, and many of the guys I’ve coached have done, was finding a group of guys who will allow me to be honest. And I’m not talking about an “accountability” partner. Accountability is necessary, but it’s only a part of what I’m talking about. I’m talking about friendship. A community of men, who span a wide breadth of experience and wisdom; men who can be honest with each other and walk though healing together. A community of love is by far one of the best tools that Jesus left us in our journey toward wholeness.

The_whole_man_completeWholeness is the thing that leads to the abundance of life that Jesus was speaking of in John 10:10. My hope is that TWM will be a place that encourages men to gather and seek healing and wholeness together. In doing this, we’ll get to experience that abundance of life and better fulfill the roles for which we were created.

I’m looking forward to seeing where The Whole Man takes us. I definitely don’t know it all and am still walking this path is a number of areas of my life. Because of that, I think this thing works best if it’s collaborative and generates discussion.

 

 

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I Love You; I’m Just Not IN Love with You.

Used from http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/theoverdose/500776/This is probably one of the most common excuses for ending most relationships in our culture. “I’m not IN love anymore” is a ready-made answer for ending a relationship that no longer lives up to what entertainment tells us love should look, or rather feel like. I readily confess that I’m 100% guilty of this in the past.

On the surface it seems pretty reasonable. Why would you continue to pursue a relationship when you’re no longer in love with the other involved party? Unfortunately, being “in love” with someone and loving someone are two completely different things.

Recently I had a friend tell me this about his wife. We were able to talk about it a little and I suspect (and hope) that there might be more, but it got me thinking a lot about what it really means when someone says this.

Without mincing words, here are the two truths that occurred to me about when someone says it.

1)   They may not feel the same “IN love” feeling anymore, but they also don’t actually love the other person either.

2)   That statement is solely based on and grounded in selfishness.

Before I move on, let me clarify. There is nothing wrong with being “in love”. It’s a wonderful affair. It’s the most amazing convergence of feeling like you might die and feeling like you could live forever. I loved the feeling of falling in love with my wife. But, the “in love” feeling becomes a negative thing when we use it as an excuse to dismantle a union that you promised to honor. Of course I’m mainly addressing marriage here, but, to be clear again, if you’re dating and haven’t yet uttered those three little words (not “Pass the queso”, still important, but not those) then take care to be sure that you are actually willing to commit to what it means to actually love that person. Then if you choose to end it, pre-marriage, be honest with them and tell them, “You don’t make me feel the way you used to and I’m not ready to be in a relationship where loving another person is all about them.” It might sting more, but at least it’s honest.

Now, back to the lecture at hand; here’s why I came to the two conclusions that I did.

Truth #1

“In love” is a feeling, although it’s probably more of a collection of feelings, but nonetheless still a feeling. The feeling of “in love” is meant to draw and connect us to another person with the purpose of promising them our commitment to love only them. Because “in love” is a feeling, it can shift and is no more sustainable than feeling excited. “In love” is like a striking a match; it flickers with the breeze and is easily blown out. It’s sole purpose is to light the flame of mature love that isn’t subject to the whims of the elements. Mature love has weathered trials and is hardened like steel by the flames of difficulty. It exists regardless of waxing and waning feelings. It is a love that decides to stay because it’s rooted in more than feelings.

Since “in love” is a feeling, when you say that you love someone, but you’re not in love with him or her, only part of that statement is true. It is true that you no longer feel in love, it isn’t sustainable; you probably started to not feel in love a long time before you voiced it. But what isn’t true is that you actually love them. If you did actually love someone, how he or she makes you feel would be less important than doing the work to mature the relationship. I don’t mean to make it sound easy; it surely isn’t. Marriage is probably (for most people anyway) the one thing that they’ll have to work at harder than anything else, ever. If you love someone then you keep the promise and put in the work. If your marriage is based on feeling in love, then you probably misunderstand what love really is.

Truth #2

When you make love all about how you feel and you’re willing to end it when it doesn’t feel the way you want it to, you make love completely about you and entirely eliminate the other person from the equation. That’s selfishness. Genuine love is always about the other person. We all know the scripture verse John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only some…” so the WE could be saved. He, God, GAVE for US. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  Love gives.

I’m not saying that you can’t want to feel love. We are made t give and receive love. We are creatures of love. I hope and pray that we all get to feel loved, but feelings aren’t useful for determining how we love others. Genuine love is always about the other person, regardless of feeling. That’s mature love.

heart

I’ll close with this quote from C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity

“Ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from ‘being in love’ — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

What does love mean to you?

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