In the course of my job, I have the pleasure from time to time of people coming to me and telling me all of the things that are wrong in their life. This ranges from “I have no job, no money and no food. Can you help me?” to “I don’t know how to make my kids behave.” and “My marriage is falling apart-HELP.”
Unfortunately, I am not a counselor. Fortunately, I know that fact. You see, far too many pastors do not know that they are not a counselor, and try to be one. I tell people straight up and when it goes above my head (which usually happens in the first 30 seconds) I tell them that they need more professional help. Where they go from there is up to them.
In any case every once in a while, as a pastor and as a person who cares about other people, I’ll stick my nose into other people’s business. I always let them know that they can tell me where to go if they want and they do not have to tell me anything they don’t want to. Such was the case a couple of days ago. I knew the family was struggling, and was curious to know what was going on, and offer support (not counseling).
As I sat and listened to the story, my heart broke and I began to wrestle with a question. Before I get to the question here is a bit of the story. The couple had always been a bit rocky. Both sides are equally guilty of their share. He undoubtedly loves her, as he states, and she believes it. She at one time did love him, but anymore. They are only together for the sake of the kids. He moved out-the kids barely noticed because he was gone a lot, and it seems as though things are better than ever between them.
The question that I wrestle with is this: how does one fall out of love? To understand the question properly everything must be put into proper context. First of all, what American culture has come to define as love is actually not. The feelings of excitement as the person approaches, butterflies in the stomach and singing from the mountaintops is something else entirely: infatuation. It is an easy mistake to make-and we have all made it.
I recall hearing a man named Dave Roever speak one time. While fighting in Viet Nam, a phosphorus grenade explode in his hand. He and buddy were both caught in the firestorm, and both were disfigured drastically. Once back in the States, procedures took place and their wives were allowed to see them for the first time. Dave’s buddy’s wife came in first and she looked at him, took her wedding ring off and said, “I can’t believe that I married a freak like you,” and walked out of the room. Dave’s wife came in looked at him and kissed him, told him how much she loved him and respects him for fighting for our country.
Love goes deeper than looks, or feelings. It goes deeper than spending time with someone or buying them gifts. Love is a decision that you will be with someone, take care of them and have their best interest in mind-no matter what. Love says, even if you should become disabled, and I have to change your adult diapers, I will do that. I will take care of you, and keep your best interest in mind in sickness and health, in good times and bad, in riches or rags. Some days the choice to love someone comes easier than other days.
So having said all of that, how does one fall out of love with someone? They make the choice to no longer love that person. The choice may be a conscience or subconscious choice, it may be warranted, or unwarranted, but it is still a choice.
By the way, hate is also a choice. It is an unwise choice, but a choice just the same.