“All the feels.” That’s what we all want from a good Christian romance, right? We want to feel the tension of two characters who seem to face insurmountable obstacles on the way to their happily ever after. I want to feel their joys and their fears and even their sorrows right along with them. And I definitely want to feel the love (anyone else suddenly have “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” from the Lion King in their head?). Bonus points if the story makes me physically feel along with the characters: we’re talking dry mouth, pounding heart, breath held, stomach swooping, tears gushing kind of feelings.
Emotions are a huge part of romance—and of life. And even though there are some emotions we’d rather avoid experiencing, I don’t think any of us would like to go through life as robots. Even Jesus felt deep emotions: he wept at Lazarus’s grave, he showed righteous anger toward the money changers in the temple, he sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And yet, even as I read—and write—romance, I have to remember that love is about more than a feeling. While it feels wonderful to fall in love, love also takes work. Love doesn’t mean we’ll never have disagreements, it doesn’t mean we’ll never see our loved one’s faults, it doesn’t mean the sky will always be blue and filled with flying unicorns (though my daughter would totally love that!). Love does mean that when we have disagreements, we’re willing to talk about them; when we see our loved one’s faults, we’re willing to overlook them or help them overcome them (in a loving way); when the skies are gray, we’re willing to offer words of comfort and even to clean up the messes the flying unicorns leave behind.
Even more important than remembering that love is more than a feeling, I think, is remembering that faith is more than a feeling. The Bible tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). And we have that confidence and that assurance even when we don’t “feel” it. We are not saved only when we feel saved. God is not with us only when we feel him with us. God doesn’t hear our prayers only when we feel like he’s listening. Even the peace that God gives us is more than a feeling: it is a peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), a peace that is with us even when our emotions are roiling inside us.
May you rest in that peace as we enter this new year!
This might take the prize for the hardest question I’ve ever come up with, but I’m going to ask it anyway … if you had to choose, would you prefer a book that makes you laugh or one that makes you cry?