KEEPING THE FAITH: Love is more than just emotional feelings
Just in time for Valentine’s Day in 1965, the most popular song of the previous century first topped the Billboard Hot 100. Was it the Beatles? Elvis? The Rolling Stones? No, it was a song sung by Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, better known as The Righteous Brothers — “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
Popularity is a fickle thing to be sure, but here Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) has the facts on its side. DJs and radio stations played that tune almost 9 millions times: As a perennial hit of the 1960s; a 1980s throwback crooned by a tone-deaf Tom Cruise in the movie “Top Gun;” and by the rediscovering of The Righteous Brothers after their music was used in the soundtrack of the 1990s blockbuster “Ghost.”
The song, written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, is a lament, a heart rending tale of affection derailed. And no matter how earnestly old Bobby and Bill cry, begging please, please, please, that love — with all of its cuddly affection is gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh, oh — and it is never coming back.
That “lovin’ feeling” can be a difficult thing to maintain, but I have some good news. Love is more than a feeling, much more (props to the band, Boston for that line). Love is way of acting. Love is a state of being. Love is more about what you do than how you feel. Your emotions are important, no doubt, but emotions are not the whole story, for how can love be sustained on feelings alone?
How does a mother feel with a colicky baby after the third or fourth hour trying to comfort that child? How does a father feel in his 12th round with a sullen 17-year-old son? How do you feel at 5:30 in the morning when your angry spouse is shaking you awake because you don’t hear the alarm clock (again!)? Clearly, if love was just the emotional feelings of warmth, tenderness, and butterfly kisses, few of us would be “in love” for many hours of the day.
The love I speak of is what the Christian Scriptures call “agape” and what the Hebrew Bible describes as “chesed” — concepts impossible to suitably translate into English. It is the combination of strength, truth, grace, patience, kindness, justice, compassion, and faithfulness — characteristics that transcend emotion or romance. This kind of love doesn’t require heart palpitations, flirtation, poetry, or gift-exchanges (though
your significant other might appreciate these things). This love doesn’t require reciprocity, or even friendship. It requires action; steadfast, sacrificial, intentional action that takes the best interests of others into account.
Affairs of the heart — seductive as they may be — will not bind diverse peoples together in lasting community. Only “doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves” will meet that task. This doing, this love in action, won’t always feel warm and fuzzy, but it will always be right, and the time to do what is right is right now.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, blogger, speaker, and author of multiple books. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.org.