My teenager and I had a very interesting conversation today. I was explaining that we can change our minds about our feelings - we can make the choice to change our minds. He wrestled with that philosophy and argued against that statement until, finally, we just had to say, "We are going to bed!" He was still shaking his head as he walked away. He just couldn't believe that we can choose how we feel.
Jerry noted that the part that was tripping up our boy tonight, was the word, choice. We tend to think of a choice as an instantaneous, one time decision, like choosing which color phone to buy. The problem with that kind of thinking in this society is that almost every decision we make today can be reversed tomorrow. We live in an age of returns, refunds, and recalls. Whenever we change our mind about something, we just trade it in for something else. This might not be so bad if we limited these transactions to things, but we have allowed this practice, of changing our minds with the shifting of our moods, to overflow into our relationships.
In order to love someone in a sincere way, we must choose to love them. Relationships that are real and lasting are not based on feelings. How can they be, since our feelings change as quickly as the weather! When we begin to feel unloving, we must change our minds. Since our actions reflect our thoughts, we must choose to think in a way that is loving so we can act loving. This sounds simple, but it is not.
In fact, it is such a deep concept, that I cannot expect a teenager to grasp it. That won't keep me from trying to teach it though! God knows that it is too deep for us as well. He gives us the instructions in Romans 12 for dealing with difficult relationships, but He knows it is impossible for us to do it on our own! We can only love God's way with His help.
Who in your life do you need to choose to love? My son asked me for a list of things to do to improve a difficult relationship. That was easy - Romans 12:9-21 is a point by point list of how to love difficult people! Look it up. Read it over and over. Do what it says. Practice the things in this passage and you will be "transformed by the renewing of your mind"!