Love Without the Feeling

This post is part of a new project that I’m working on. Visit Jess Alston’s website to learn more about the Dig Deep Podcast.

I arrived late and sat in the back pew at my best friend’s wedding. Really, I shouldn’t have even received an invitation after all the hurtful words I spewed at her one dark day. But there I sat, restless, fidgeting in the back row, barely able to see anything at a wedding we often dreamed about together, fantasizing about the warm memories and pictures with me by her side.

Right now I’m caught up in rewatching a show called Hart of Dixie (which is probably an obsession I should just keep to myself). It aired on The CW from 2011 to 2015, but I’ve only just discovered this southern modern soap opera in this Netflix-era. Anyway, there’s a scene where AnnaBeth shows up uninvited to Lemon’s (yes, her name is Lemon) bachelorette party while they’re in the middle of an epic, not-speaking-to-each-other best friend battle about Lemon refusing to take the supporting role when AnnaBeth wins out on a job that they both wanted.

AnnaBeth tells Lemon’s little sister, “Oh, I’ve known her my whole life. She’s mad at me now, but she’ll get over it. That’s why I came today. Because neither of us would forgive ourselves later if I didn’t.”

Maybe a cheesy CW version, but this is what Kathy talked about this week at Dig Deep. Love as an action. Sometimes we’re called to love people without the feelings to go along with this love.

She quoted C.S. Lewis who speaks to this in a way more sophisticated manner in his book, Mere Christianity:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

I know that’s what my best friend did when she put the postage on my wedding invitation: she acted as if she loved me in that moment. In rebuilding our relationship, we went through a lot of steps, behaving as if we loved each other, and then we waited for our feelings to catch up to our actions. It took a lot of time, a lot of repairing damage that felt so beyond repair.

Today, she’s a friend who still loves me better than I deserve, serving me, pouring into me, celebrating my gifts as she lifts me up, encouraging me to share them with the world. All while she’s a superhero mother of four.

If we hadn’t stayed devoted to one another in love, waiting for our thoughts to catch up to our actions, then we wouldn’t get to tell one of the most beautiful redemption stories to everyone we know.

Here’s a few more things I loved about this week’s Dig Deep:

  1. Short and oh-so sweet. As Kathy shared, “Don’t be fooled by the brevity of Romans 12:9, Love must be sincere.” It packs quite a punch. Love must be without hypocrisy. Love without masks or cracks. It’s a God-like, self-sacrificial love that pays whatever personal price it takes.
  2. When it’s not about you. In our natural state, we want to be the one honored and recognized. It’s painful to step back to watch friends move into roles that you dreamed about, but it’s also beautiful when we become the wind beneath their wings, supporting the growth of their God-given gifts. Learn to love your supporting role.
  3. Hate what is evil. These days, we’ve watered down the word to say things like, “I hate when it snows.” In order to cling to what is good, we can’t ignore this type of evil that’s expressing horror and intentional harm to someone. The kind of love and the kind of evil that we’re talking about go so much deeper than our cultural definitions.

I had a hard time sitting in the back row of my best friend’s wedding. But it would have felt even worse if I wrote this today telling you how I wasn’t even invited. Or that I stubbornly refused to show up.

Sometimes we’re called to love without the feelings. (I’m told this is a theme of certain seasons of marriage.) We pray to God along the way for a change to happen in our hearts, for our thoughts to catch up to our actions.

For our love to be sincere and without any cracks.

For us to love walking a step behind as we support our loved ones. And that it might go unnoticed, in the most beautiful and honoring way.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Romans 12:9-10

3 thoughts on “Love Without the Feeling

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