Someone asked me recently, “How do you know when you’ve fallen in love with someone?”
And I had to pause and consider. Try to wrap my mind around the elusive. Try to pin down the intangible – like trying to catch the wind.
Some people will say, “Oh, you’ll just know,” and that could very well be true. But when I look back and consider my crushes, my infatuations, my likes, and the one time I may have actually fallen in love – I think there’s a difference. But how do you know?
Crushes and infatuations usually involve surface-level knowledge of another person and limited interactions with them. You flirt a little here and there, have brief conversations, make eye contact and smile, and feel a little breathless when you’re around them. Sometimes you don’t talk to them because you’re too nervous of what they’ll think of you. You hurry to cover awkward pauses and anxiously rethink everything you said to them for fear it was the wrong thing. You have a limited basis for your attraction to them, but you know you’d like to know them better.
It could be the beginnings of what could turn into love, but it’s not love itself. Even the early stages of dating someone or liking someone the more you talk to them couldn’t be classified as love.
Love is steadily built up as you establish a friendship with another person – when you begin to care about them as the whole person and not just the small parts that once first attracted you. When you are offered a lens into the core of who they are, and you begin to realize that that core is worth more to you than anyone else, this is when you begin to fall in love with someone.
It could be a little like this …
Maybe there will come a day when I don’t have to be afraid.
Maybe someday there will be comfort in the silence –
Not a terrified awkwardness.
Maybe one day I will feel calmed
And not scared by your presence.
Maybe the day will come
When conversation will be natural and eager –
And I won’t have to weigh everything I say
And worry about each word coming out.
Maybe I’ll know that’s really love –
When you set me free from my cage of fear –
And with gentleness, give me wings to fly.
And then one day, it might be a little like this …
It was remarkable –
The way he accidentally awakened magic in her.
He said a handful of words –
And they set off sparks of imagination inside her mind.
He looked at her intensely –
And she felt known to the core of her soul.
He laughed –
And it sent her soul dancing.
She hadn’t expected this –
Hadn’t expected such inspiration and challenge to her mind.
She hadn’t expected to feel so alive in his presence –
More alive than she’d ever felt.
She hadn’t expected to feel so incredibly happy –
Simply talking to him.
She hadn’t expected to long for such dreams –
As she did when she was with him.
And how does that happen? It’s not something that you can measure in a formula or track in a data sheet. But when you come to know a person’s very soul – when you value the same things he does – when you delight in sharing passions and interests together – and when you admire his heart for all it is and all it desires to pursue – you’ve come to a place of loving him.
When the beauty in his soul sets yours on fire just a bit, you’ve begun to experience love. When, at the end of the day, you would be content to sit side by side and simply relish the moments of silence together, you are understanding the bonds of love beginning to form between you.
And those bonds, beautiful as they are, can be so dangerous if you have not been given permission to start weaving them. Sometimes, yes, we might stop and realize they have been woven without us realizing it. And if that’s the case, and the other person is free to be pursued, then it would only seem right to begin a relationship with them.
But if they’re not, or if they have made it clear they don’t feel the same way, then you must sever the cords of love and walk away.
Why would I ever suggest walking away from something that seems so beautiful and right? Because doesn’t our culture tell us that if you love someone, you should be with them?
But as beautiful as love is, it is not the ultimate. God is. And sometimes God requires us to give up what seems the most beautiful to love Him even more. Sometimes He asks us to walk away from a path that seems right because He knows that it won’t be the best for us in the end.
And we have to be faithfully obedient to that call, no matter how it seems to cut into our souls. We have to trust that human love is always secondary to heavenly love, and that emotions won’t last forever. Even emotions, powerful as they may be, can be tamed, can be surrendered, can be slowly dispelled as we feed them less and feed on the Word of God more.
And someday, perhaps, God may give us the gift of love that doesn’t have to be denied – of feelings that don’t have to be squelched – of mutual admiration and delight in one another.
And the story might go a little something like this …
I’m not lonely when I’m with you.
The loneliness is swallowed up
So that I’m not even aware of its existence.
When you’re single, lonely is all you know.
You’re aware of it constantly.
But when I’m with you,
Your presence dispels loneliness.
Some people think that the presence
Of any lover will make loneliness disappear.
But it’s not just the physical presence of another person.
It’s the warmth from the presence of their soul
And inviting it in to stay.
There’s no more fear,
No more anxiety,
No more battle-weary thoughts.
Just the beauty of my soul
Being allowed to rest
In the embrace of your own.
And the loneliness becomes a distant memory.
Until that day, may we guard our love with cherished hope, knowing that it is a gift of inestimable worth and beauty. And if a human never gets to receive it here on earth, may we know that God will reward us for our faithfulness and purity when we enter heaven someday.
For the Author of Love surely loves us the most – and He will always hold us fast.