At one point in time I collected quotes that struck me or that I liked. One of the first quotes that lodged itself into my brain still pushes into my mind every once in awhile. I didn’t consciously memorize this quote, I just walked past it for a whole year at one of the schools my mom worked at. The quote was, “Attitudes are contagious — is yours worth catching?” I still smile, because I can see the banner, in my minds eye, spread at the top of the stairway leading to the library!
Another quote that I collected someplace is, “Love comes quietly. If you hear bells and whistles, get your ears checked!” It made me smile. Today it makes me think.
Writing this blog, as all other people who have blogs know, comes largely out of personal experience. Today on my dresser sits a beautiful vase of peachy-orange roses, given to me the other day by my wonderful boyfriend. He walked in the door, holding the roses! I said, “Roses for me!” (Who else would they be for!?) It was a special treat to receive them! I remember the day, quite a few years ago, that I was playing “Valentine Bingo” at a family reunion. (My family celebrated holidays and occasions when we were together, and the occasion of the reunion was Valentines Day.) As a then-single, who desired marriage, I wasn’t overly excited at the theme. As we played this game, I’m pretty sure my mood became a little less than 100%. The bingo boxes were filled with valentine gestures. One of the boxes was, “Received flowers from a special someone.” That is one that I remember clearly, though many of the other boxes were also left unfilled due to my dateless status! Not being able to say yes to some of those items was slightly torturous to romantic me! And now, I can say wholeheartedly that, yes, I’ve received flowers from a special someone … several times! I’ll admit, it’s fun.
I find being in a dating relationship brings back a conversation that a friend and I had, also a number of years ago. I remember it distinctly, because I wanted to be married. I wanted to date. At 24 I had never been on a date, and my first date didn’t come until over a year later. But there I was again, with yet another one of my girlfriends who had recently gotten engaged. I saw her pretty manicured hand, displaying the sparkling diamond. I listened to her talk of the first date, and the proposal. I really was happy and excited for her. (Really!). But what I remember most, was something that she said about Jesus. Something that now comes back to me as I find myself enjoying the attention of a special man in my life.
She said, “Why is it that it is so easy to fall in love with my fiance — to experience the love, the desires, and all that goes with being in love? But with Jesus, it’s harder? I want to be in love with Jesus!”
I now understand what she meant. Having a boyfriend means I have a tangible person freely giving me flowers and hugs. It means I have a friend to call up and tell how my day went. Dating causes me to rethink all the romance movies I’ve watched. I find real life is different; it is choosing to be loveable and to accept the generosity of my boyfriend. It is learning self-sacrifice. It is a slow awakening to a different kind of love. It for sure is not Hollywood. It is not bells and whistles. Real love models Christ-likeness, and comes slowly and quietly. Nonetheless, in an earthly relationship, the feelings are real. The man is standing before me. I can see him, touch him, experience him.
Yet my friend’s question haunts me. How can we women fall in love with Jesus all over again? Single or dating, dating or married, married or widowed. In whichever season of life we are in, can we experience, just as real, the feelings of being in love with Jesus?
I find that in our culture we want love to come quickly, loudly, and with certainty. We want the romance, we want the feelings, we want the bells and whistles, so to speak. We want this with Jesus too, if we are honest. We want to feel the “mountain-top experiences.” We want it to be easy to be good. We want blessings in abundance. We want the music and lyrics to “touch us.” We want to get something out of the relationship far more than we want to practice selfless love for Jesus. We want feel-good sermons. We want friends who tell us we are good enough. We want it easy.
Hmm. Bells and whistles are never a sign of true love. Not with men. Not with God. Think with me to some of the feelings I’m experiencing in the new-to-me season of dating. I want to be with him just doing nothing. I smile over a text and get excited to hear his voice over my phone. I think of him often throughout the day, and like knowing that he thinks of me too. I delight in flowers and gifts. I get excited at the prospect of spending a whole day together. But these are the emotional sides of love. They are not the depths of true love.
This morning I read an email from a friend. She asked, “Do you know of any good studies for single women and/or women wanting to draw closer to God?” Do you hear the longing in that question? It is a desire to know God more… in essence it is the desire to get closer to God, to “feel” in love with Jesus again. At least that is how I read it. I pondered that. I thought of my feelings over a man. I wondered why don’t I have that with Jesus right now. I laid in bed and thought. I asked Jesus, “Why don’t I feel that with you?”
All of a sudden the Spirit whispered back, “Remember Mary Ann, you have felt that way with Me before. You couldn’t wait to have quiet time in the morning. You immersed yourself in My Word and wanted Me to speak. You asked Me questions. You gave yourself plenty of time to pray, rather than rush through some pleasantries you called talking to Me. That was falling in love with Me. We can get back there. You just need to be purposeful again.” I didn’t feel condemnation. I felt loved.
I’m reminded of more quotes. My sister once said, “Falling in love is a feeling. Staying in love is a choice.” She was talking about marriage. I now see it is the same with Jesus. Another friend once said, “Any fire will die if you don’t fan the flame.” This is true with love for a person, or love for the Lord.
Do you want to be in love with Jesus? Do you want the feelings, the bells and whistles? Just like any physical relationship, the emotions of being in love with Jesus are good. But so is the deep knowledge that God loves you just for who you are. So is the truth to the words, “Seek me and ye shall find.” Press on to make time to fall in love with Jesus again. Read His Word. Spend time alone in His presence. Listen to His voice. His love comes quietly — in the calm of your heart. It is not experiences and feelings. It is the sacrifice of Himself that proves His love for you! Press on sisters! Jesus loves you and wants you to know the joy of falling in love with him all over again!