Have you found the love of your life? I’m not asking if you’re married, or if you’re dating or even with someone; I’m asking if you’re in love with someone to the degree that you think you can truly identify them as the love of your life, and if so, can you tell me–is this person your spouse, or someone else? Because unless both you and they are unmarried and rightly free to commit to each other–they have to go. Not what you wanted to hear? Surprised? Don’t be.
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4 NIV)
Today’s verse is a solid, immovable and unyielding brick wall if you find yourself in this particular situation. God honors marriage, and judges immorality and adultery. Period. End of discussion. Nothing else matters. Yet, the problem is the human psyche, and that elusive process of “falling in love.” What is it, after all, that causes us to fall for someone–sometimes so hard that otherwise stable pillars of the community will abandon their families and careers to abscond to Europe with a twenty-something? Because it happens.
I believe that euphoric feeling we call falling in love is a combination of 1) who the new person is, and 2) how they make us feel; it is these two in tandem that make individuals willing to sacrifice so much.
By “who that person is” I mean what you gain through intimate association with them. Each of us has something, in varying degrees, that we inherently offer others through association with us–money, fame, reputation, beauty, youth, health, accomplishment, education, family name, personality, status; we each represent and symbolize something to others in our life–and that can be highly desirable to those who currently lack that quality in their own situation. It is the ageless desire for complementarity within us.
The older established academic might not, for example, vicariously gain access to professional accomplishment or financial success through his involvement with the twenty-something because she can’t offer him that, she’s not there yet–but then, he already has those qualities himself in abundance. He will, however, experience something far more precious to him: youth and beauty, which is in increasingly short supply at this point in his own life. A first generation financial success might similarly be drawn to someone with an established family name and the status that comes with it; through them, they may, at long last, gain the social credibility they desire and be acknowledged as someone.
When my father married my mother, in his mind he married “the baron’s daughter,” because he remembered years earlier in Lithuania her older brother, “the baron’s son,” attending a basketball game in his village. To others, this was meaningless–I doubt anyone who grew up here in the U.S. had a clue–but to my dad, my mother represented a social status he himself lacked.
Yet the second dynamic that causes us to fall for someone–how they make us feel–is potentially more potent. The twenty-something might make the aging professional feel vibrant and young again; he might even be now experiencing a “youth” with and through her he previously missed out on because his own earlier years were spent building a career. The woman who never felt loved or thought beautiful by her husband of many years may finally feel appreciated by a new man in her life. This is, in fact, the strongest aphrodisiac because–how can you argue with what you’re experiencing, with how someone makes you feel about yourself?
And it is these two together–what a person brings to the table, and how he or she makes you feel–that is so incredibly powerful, that promises such ecstasy. It is beautiful when the right people find it, but what if you’re already married when this happens? What if the person you feel so strongly and gut-wrenchingly connected to isn’t your husband or wife? Or they’re married to someone else? Or for whatever other reason you know you shouldn’t have fallen for them? What do you do then?
If you listen to the voices around you, you’ll be advised to “listen to your heart”–as if good judgment could arise from the very source of the struggle with right and wrong! Remember that God tells us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV) Looking toward the very emotions that are confused and off-kilter at a pivotal moment of our lives for right guidance is the height of both arrogance and foolishness. If we do so, we will invariably conclude that we should please ourselves–do the selfish thing, what’s “right for me,”–without any consideration of whether it is objectively right or wrong, or whether it’s right for others in our lives. We will experience spiritual ruin and a devastating downturn in our life. No, we need to look to the eternal God for reliable and trustworthy guidance at this precarious moment.
1) So realistically, what’s the first thing you should do once you recognize you situation? The very first thing you should do is the same thing you should do at any other time of great trial or temptation–you should call out to God for help. Why? So you wouldn’t hurt others, obviously! So you wouldn’t step wrongly, so you wouldn’t do something irreversible that will permanently impact your life and the lives of others.
Imagine yourself having slipped and fallen carrying a big sheet of glass, that has now shattered into shards all around you–you wouldn’t just dig your hands down into the sharp pieces to stand up and start stomping around haphazardly all over the place without any thought, would you? That’s exactly where you’re at spiritually–you’re in the middle of a potentially catastrophic pile of cut glass that could devastate your life and the lives of so many other people whose lives are intricately and irretrievably inter-woven with yours–who rightly rely on you to do what is right, not necessarily most pleasant.
You see, we can’t always predict whom our psyches will fall in love with–and unless we actively contribute to the situation, we are initially innocent victims of our innate emotional response. But where we go from there determines whether we remain innocent, or if we step out into sin–it is a very dangerous place to be in alone. That is why our very first response ought to be to call out to God for His help.
2) And then? What happens after we call out to the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Well, if it is really the God and Father of our LORD Jesus that we’re calling out to–if Jesus Christ really is the Lord and Master of my life–then, I will do the right but hard thing, and walk away from that person.
Remember Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15 NIV) We must also remember that “God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:6-8 NIV)
I would be lying if I said it will be easy–it will probably be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do–but you can do it if you really believe in Jesus. If you really believe, you will lay your heart and it’s happiness at Christ’s feet, knowing that He is fully capable of giving you the joy and fulfillment you need here in this world legitimately–without your having to steal it under wrong circumstances–or, if He deems it not essential for you now, to reward, fulfill and overwhelm you with His joy in eternity! Either way is good, because He knows best. “…I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” (Psalm 131:2 NIV) And, I “…know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
It may, in fact, not feel okay for a long time afterward–it may take months or even years to really forget, but you “…can do all things through Christ who strengthens…[you.]” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) Know that you can do this–you really can–because “…we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7 NKJV)!
And remember that in all things, we are to “…make it our aim…to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:9-10 NKJV)
Ultimately, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11, Berean)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Be my all; be more precious to me than anything else in life. Help me not only believe You are enough to pay for my sins, but also that you are enough to give me the joy and fulfillment I so desperately long for–without illegitimately stealing it. I am placing my heart and it’s needs in your care. I trust You; You know what I truly require, and will provide every last bit of it to me! Amen!