Written by Steven Liechty
"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush." - Philippians 1:9
So often, when we speak of love, we speak of the heart, and when we speak of logic, we speak of the brain. It's as though these two are separate, and they can't possibly come from the same place. In this metaphor, the heart is a place of emotion and the head is a place of dispassionate analysis, and never the twain shall meet.
But we have now studied the human body well enough to know that the heart is not actually the production center of emotions, physiologically speaking. We know it is the brain. And the brain is also where we produce our thoughts. Whether we associate them with the head or the heart, they all come from the same hunk of mysterious gray matter underneath our hair and between our ears.
This epistle seems to acknowledge that you can't split these things up so easily, and that we do so at great risk. The idea that you can excuse any behavior for love has caused a lot of unloving conflict in the world. Love is not an excuse to behave badly, irresponsibly or unkindly. Real love ought to generate more loving behavior.
In other words, feeling love isn't an excuse to stop thinking. And thinking isn't an excuse to stop loving and feeling.
C.S. Lewis said that love is more than emotion; it is a decision. In other words, long after the warm feelings have passed, it is what we decide to do to each other, and for each other, that reveals our love.
So the next time you're not feeling the love, decide to love anyway. And the next time you're over-thinking, allow love to flourish too. After all, it all comes from the same place. And here, I do not refer to the human brain, but rather to the mysterious divine Creator of love, logic and everything in between.
Loving God, allow me to delight in love without losing my head, and to think, without losing my delight. Amen.
Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough, has a chapter in the new anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. Follow her on twitter @lillianfdaniel.