When The Love is Gone
No words could ever express the great unhappiness I've felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you'll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie.
P.S., And congratulations on willing the state lottery.
We have an epidemic in America. I am not telling you anything new.
According to www.divorcestatistics.com, 45-50% of first marriages end in divorce in America. 60-67% of 2nd marriages end in divorce, while 70-73% of 3rd marriages are ended by divorce.
According to a study by Oklahoma State University on Marriage, of those who were happy in marriage 34% admitted to having had what they described as “serious trouble” at some point in their marriage; however, 92% said they were glad that they had stayed together.
Now one of the things we often hear from those who are ready to “throw in the towel” is they say “it’s better to just move on, than taking the time and effort to reconnect and rebuild.”
However, if you look at the statistics, the average time that most people wait to remarry is 3 years, and the average length of divorce proceedings is 1 year. That’s 4 years on average of wasted life before you can “get on with your”. It would seem to me that effort could be given to the year or two years of work to rebuild what was once there.
So, what do we do when the love is gone?
Now on the spiritual side, church is supposed to be about people who love and serve God. And yet 2.7 million church members become inactive each year. They often leave hurting or wounded, perhaps neglected.
Now, George Barna estimates that 50% of people in our churches today are not actually born again Christians. And that may well be true. But if even ½ of those leaving the church are truly believers that have been deceived by Satan, and waned in their love … then the question is what do we do when the love is gone, when we don’t feel about the things of God like we once did? What if I don’t love God like I once did?
My guess is that someone here today is struggling in their walk with Jesus Christ. Perhaps you have been considering just stepping back and “taking a break” or maybe you are stuck in apathy and can’t break out of that feeling …
My guess today is that someone here may be struggling in their marriage. You don’t feel like you did and you don’t know what to do or don’t care to do what you know …
Whatever area of your life, Spiritual, Marital, Business, Friendships, Ministry, any area where your love has waned, the Words of Jesus Christ are real, practical and if applied can take you where you need to be
Read with me John’s record of the words of Jesus Christ to the Church in Ephesus in The book of Revelation chapter 2.
Now remember as we read that in talking to Ephesus, John is writing to a church that he had been the Pastor. He knew these people and he loved these people.
READ REVELATION 2:1-7
Alright did you see the steps?
I see 5 things all beginning with an R.
We have to realize the truth and that is that we don’t feel like we felt.
Before we can deal with a problem we have to admit that there is one.
But something else I see what we have to admit is that just because you don’t feel like you felt, doesn’t mean you are “all bad”
Sometimes we respond defensively because we are feeling the way we are feeling and we think we are an altogether terrible person.
Jesus told them they were doing some great things
Hard work, perseverance, intolerance of wicked men, and testing the words of false preachers, are all good things.
Some who are struggling in their marriage and they feel like a complete failure … but the fact is you may be a good father or a good mother. You have perhaps been good at your job. You might have survived a lot of wrong done to you
Perhaps you have done great things for God in the past
Perhaps you have stood for right and righteousness
Perhaps you have been a faithful giver
But Jesus says to Ephesus “You have forsaken your first love”
Aphiemi = depart, leave behind, A.T. Robertson defines it as a definite sad departure
This is not something that happened by accident but it is something that happened because of a decided decision.
The Oklahoma State Study discusses the process of falling out of love and says that the decisions might be gradual decline, little things over a long time that take us to that place
Or there may be a pivotal moment where you allow an event to reshape your feelings.
It could be a change in the way you think about yourself that causes you then to change the way you feel about others.
But whether you got there over time or you seemed to get there all at once, there is a problem.
It is emotional, it is spiritual, but it is also physical.
Dr. Brandt Gardner says that “falling out of love is … the peak level of the emotional pain threshold”. He describes how hormones fire because of pain that increases our adrenaline and embeds memories of pain. Then it gets to a point of trauma and cortisol floods the area of short-term memory to the point that it does actual nerve damage to the area of the brain that stores short term memory.
Basically this means that in “falling out of love” distorted emotional memories are being created. It’s like the short term memory is damaged to where we often can’t see the good being done right now, all we can see is the thing that hurt us and we enlarge it or distort it and it’s all we see.
So, whether you have fallen out of love with your spouse, or fallen out of love with God and his ways, it is a serious process that involves every part of your being.
Jesus says you have left your “first love” or “your love the first” – the word is protos = first, before, prominent
In Jeremiah 2:2 God pronounces the same thing for his “bride” the people of Israel and he says “… I remember the loyalty of your youth, your love as a bride – how you followed me in the wilderness in a land not sown”
So then Jesus says
“Remember the height from which you have fallen”
Back to Jeremiah 2:2 God was saying, “you followed me around in the desert and were loyal to me, when you had nothing but tents and the dust of the desert, but now that you have houses and cities, yet your loyalty has waned.”
Remember … how you used to love
Remember when there was nothing but each other, when you didn’t have two chairs that matched or dishes that went together or a had mismatched of silverware, or a tiny little apartment, or your parents basement, you didn’t have ANYTHING … but you had LOVE …
Remember when you first came to Christ and you couldn’t wait to get to read your Bible in the morning. You would tell everyone who would listen to you and many who wouldn’t how wonderful Jesus is. You were at Bible Study and Sunday School, Sunday Worship. You were anxious to serve. You took notes. You sang the songs. You didn’t understand it all but you didn’t care because you were filled with love.
But somewhere along the way something happened … or little by little you changed your process.
In your marriage, perhaps jobs, kids, dirty socks, habits that were cute before and became annoying after; and little by little things changed.
Maybe you were ignored or unappreciated. You might have been legitimately wronged.
Perhaps you didn’t say anything and by the time you did and your mate tried to change it was too late
Or perhaps you said something but it fell on unsympathetic ears, until by the time they do, you don’t feel the same.
Perhaps you stopped attending church regularly because of work or other commitments. Maybe someone said something to you that wasn’t kind or treated your excitement with a big bucket of cold reality, as they perceive it, telling you to settle down …
Perhaps a major trauma happened in your life that separated you like a sheep from their shepherd and in the separation you lost your passion for God
Jesus says, “don’t focus on where you are right now but REMEMBER the HEIGHT”
Remember how GOOD it was
Focus on the feeling you had First
Remember from WHERE …
You most likely didn’t get married because you were bored one day.
You were IN LOVE …
This man was your knight in shining armor
This woman was princess in an ivory tower
“Remember” – mnemoneuo (mnay-mon-yoo-o) = remember, keep in mind …
but this is in the present active tense which is telling us to continue to be mindful, keep thinking about
This is an important command it is a command to shift our focus from the painful memories that have short circuited us and literally caused nerve damage so we can’t even see the current good …
but our LONG TERM memory is still good so … focus on where you WERE … you can remember it, stop putting it out of your memory and make it FRONT AND CENTER in your memory, and keep on remembering it the good thing you had
Go watch your Marriage Video
Or let it Play it in your head
Remember how you felt on your first date, on your wedding night
Remember the birth of your children
Remember successes you have had together
If you fall down … you don’t focus on how far you fell but how high you were
That same study from Oklahoma State talks about the “falling IN love process” as being like being on drugs.
The person meets your greatest needs, is a perfect fit for you, and your body is flooding with cortisol and you are naturally high.
Female testosterone levels increase making you more aggressive and
Male testosterone levels go down making them more receptive
and we get wound up in this feeling we call love like being at the bottom of a huge waterfall and we wish that it would never end …
It is similar for us when we come to Christ … the same flood the same euphoria … the flood of emotions
Sometimes though, we look around and wonder who turned the water off … why don’t I feel like I felt
Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing...Love...is a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habits reinforced by the grace which both partners ask and receive from God...On this love the engine of marriage is run; being in love was the explosion that started it.
Let me say something right here and now …
Real love, Lasting Love certainly involves feelings, but it is not controlled by feelings but is about ACTION
We have to decide to be in love we have to decide to DO LOVE … not just FEEL love
So, Jesus says
David said in Psalm 51:17 – "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…”
David wrote Psalm 51 after he had sinned in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 including adultery and murder.
He was not where he should have been, he was not doing what he should have done and eventually he was so far away from the Lord that he was doing things he never would have done and feeling what he never would have felt.
Jesus tells us to “repent” – metanoeo this is in first aorist active imperative tense … which means that Christ is “making an urgent appeal for instant change of attitude and conduct before it is too late” (A.T. Robertson)
He gives a warning that if they as a church don’t repent he’s going to take their “lamp” that means he will stop using them as a light to the world
In our marriages remember that our purposes are to be a light to the world showing the beautiful relationship between Christ and the Church. So he implores us to repent from the things that have caused us to lose our feelings before it is too late and our very purpose for being married loses its effectiveness
Repentance is a TURNING from and a Turning TOWARD
Repentance is what happens on the inside first before the outside
Repentance is the sorrow for what has transpired and a desire for something new
“Have Mercy on Me O God … wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2)
Then he confesses to God, “I have sinned …” and he tells God that he deserves better than that
And the best prayer we can pray when we have gotten away is found in
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”
People if we want change and the feelings aren’t there … the best thing we can do is ask God, the Creator of all things to recreate our feelings, to renew what has faded to relight the fire that has dimmed.
Isaiah 30:15 In Repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …
We have to STOP doing the things that moved us away and turn toward the things that will restore us to where we once where
In our marriage we have to do the hard work of determining what gradual things have contributed to the loss of feelings or the pivotal moment was and how it can be rectified.
Perhaps the issue is within and not without and that can be dealt with as well
All of these may require help outside of yourself to get there
Repentance is not easy
You may have taken you a long time to get where you are
Or perhaps it happened quickly but you have fallen a long way
Either way, get help, seek Christian Bible Based Counseling
If you have left your love for the Lord, Repentance is the first step … and then Jesus says
“do the things you did at first”
Going back to Psalm 51:11-12 … David says to God what we should say to him when we have strayed and what we can say to return to where we WERE in our relationship
Do not cast me from you presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the JOY of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me
You have heard the phrase Feelings follow Form or Affection follows Action
You may not be feeling affectionate … but I promise you that if you force yourself to hug 3 times a day and hold for 30 seconds, eventually the joy will return
A willing spirit will follow and that will sustain you.
The same is true for a kiss, for an unexpected gift, a nice gesture, a few flowers …
Proverbs 5:18 “Rejoice in the wife of your youth”
Solomon was saying what this survey backs up … it’s better to rebuild and rejoice with what you have than to go through a breakup, fallout, and rebuilding.
Not to mention the fact God hates divorce … Not to mention that God himself is a forgiving God and he calls us to be people of forgiveness
“do the things you did at first”
Poieo protos ergon = do at once the first workmanship
How more simple and practical could Jesus be
Hey we aren’t learning something NEW here …
You fell in love before
Do what you did then
Make a list,
you were romantic once, you were thoughtful once, you were spontaneous once
Make a date
Nike tells you what to do … SAY IT WITH ME
“JUST DO IT!”
Hey people this CAN BE FUN …
But it also can be beautiful …
the deeds of love are selfless acts fashioned beautifully to please someone else more than yourself
Oh people … when we have lost our love … somewhere along the way we stopped trying to please the one we love and started just wanting to be pleased
We lost our passion for the pleasure of another
Stop it and move again in beautiful selfless acts of love toward someone FOR them to WIN them and along the way …
they will win YOU
If you have lost your fervor for the Things of God …
Do what you did FIRST
Live a life that seeks to please God
How’s your prayer life
How’s your fellowship with other believers
How’s your bible study attendance
How’s your worship
How’s your receiving of the spoken word of God?
Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word
When we lose our passion for God … somewhere along the way we start worrying about ourselves alone …
we lose our focus on Christ
Do what you Did FIRST in Christ … act as if you JUST CAME to CHRIST
Hebrews 12:1 says “Fix your eyes on Jesus … the author and finisher of our faith”
He is our Goal our Joy our Crown
Realize, Remember, Repent, Return … is that it?
The greatest problem in marital challenges is drive through and microwave world we live in. We want it right now. We find our feelings have failed us and we either want it fixed right now or we want to move on.
But it is a process and often long and difficult process but no harvest happens over night
It follows the Principles of the Harvest
1. You Reap What you sow
2. You Reap Later than you sow
3. But you also Reap More than you sow
Sow love and love will come back, though it may come later, it will always come MORE than you sow
What are the benefits we reap?
We get the Joy of Being Overcomers
Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. "I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me."
Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan "Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you've convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you're getting a divorce. That will really hurt him." With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, "Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!" And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting "as if." For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing. When she didn't return, Crane called. "Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?"
"Divorce?" she exclaimed. "Never! I discovered I really do love him."
Her actions had changed her feelings.
Motion resulted in emotion.
The ability to love is established not so much by recited promise as often repeated performance