If love is a choice, what do I do about attraction?
If love is a choice, how do I deal with feelings of neglect?
If love is a choice, how do I stop hurting the one I love when I’m angry?
The heart, and therefore, the feelings and emotions attached to it, has seemingly been the villain in many stories of pain and betrayal.
We have songs like “Stupid Love” and “Fool for You.” We have KDrama like “Foolish Love” and films like “Stupid Cupid.”
It doesn’t help that the Bible seems to vilify the heart.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
Or does it, really?
Let’s look at the context of this verse so that we may have a wider perspective about the heart and how it relates to loving others right.
The verse in Proverbs about guarding the heart is preceded by the following passage:
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20-22 NLT)
From this passage, we learn some vital things about the heart.
First, the heart can be influenced by what we allow to penetrate it.
This is why Psalm 139:23-24 is golden:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our hearts? The Bible says God will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts before Him (Isaiah 66:2). Our emotions flow out of our hearts and we can’t control them. But what we allow to penetrate our hearts influence our emotions and our response to other people’s actions.
This is why the kind of people we are attracted to and are repulsed by can change through the years. What we have allowed to penetrate and transform our hearts, whether that’s the Holy Spirit or worldly standards, will greatly influence our attractions. Maybe it’s time to allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate your heart and test the source of your comfort and security so that you don’t constantly find yourself attracted to charming jerks who end up gaslighting you or leaving you hanging. When you start getting attracted to someone’s wisdom and humility before God more than their intelligence or appearance (not that these are wrong or unimportant!), then you know that God has given you the wisdom to choose a godly partner.
Second, words that we listen to are major influencers of our hearts.
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV)
The word meditate in the Bible is more than just emptying your mind and focusing on something for a short period of time. It’s to carry it with you through the day, allowing it to influence your thoughts and your interactions for the day.
So what happens when you feel neglected or you were hurt by someone you love? How you respond will depend on what you have meditated on. Meditating on the Word allows you to see that fallen and broken people in the Bible have caused hurt to each other but those who have experienced God’s unconditional love and forgiveness were able to ask for forgiveness when they hurt someone or extend it to those who have hurt them.
What happens when you hurt the one you love? It all goes back to what you have meditated on recently that led to your actions. What songs, movies, tweets, or reels have you unwittingly carried with you and influenced what you believe and consequently, how you interact with others? When you deep dive into your recent habits, you’ll likely find influencers of the heart that you may need to consume less of, and spend that time to consume more of the word of God.
So yes, feelings are important. Not that you follow your emotions and let them lead you. Instead, listen to them and allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart as you meditate on the word of God. Let His lovingkindness, evident in every page of the Bible, lead you to repentance and to loving right.