Doing Love

So often growing up, I learned that love is more than just a feeling. Whether it was in a children’s church message, the tunes of DC Talk blaring throughout my home that “love is a verb”, or Michael W. Smith reminding me that, “love isn’t love till you give it away” . . . it was ingrained in me. Someone, please . . . admit that you can relate!

I was reading this reflection by Henri Nouwen (below) this week. It was so beautifully written, and very simple. Henri focuses on actions, but it preserves the reality of emotions. If we didn’t have emotion, we would not feel the need to act. Actually, we would not be human. Action and emotion go hand in hand.

Saturday June 16, 2012

Doing Love

“Often we speak about love as if it is a feeling.  But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well.  The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling.  To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is.  When we ‘do’ love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.”

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

When you read this reflection, there are many things you can think of: doing love by serving the needy, doing love by caring about social justice issues, doing love by interacting with friends or someone in your church. But, when I read this, I reflected on its core principle in the light of conflicts in relationships. What made me think of this was the line that said, “Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we “do” love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.” It made me think of the times when I didn’t feel like doing love (acting) toward a co-worker, a friend, my husband. But when I did it anyway, my heart changed. When I didn’t do it, my heart wouldn’t change . . . I would stay annoyed and cranky . . . and, well, selfish.

Sometimes I hear my friends say, “I’m trying to not take it personal” when they are hurt or in the midst of a conflict. I’m not suggesting that we should be uber-sensitive, but when you’re dealing with people . . . it is personal. But sometimes our emotions overwhelm us and we don’t know how to speak (action) without being emotional. And sometimes we don’t know how to handle our emotions, so we act out negatively (exploding, saying things we don’t mean, etc).

We don’t have to sacrifice our “emotions” in order to feel that we are being rational. And we don’t have to sacrifice being rational in order to express our emotions. In doing so, you are admitting that your emotions are not rational. We must learn to not let our desire to be rational nor our emotions to rule us or become our idol. We need to take these two beautiful gifts that the Lord has given us, and learn how to use them as God intended.

When we are able to use these two gifts (doing and feeling) to love our friends, spouses, co-workers, etc. . . . we seek to love, and love brings peace and restoration. We might not feel like facing a difficult conflict, but as Henri says, “When we ‘do’ love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.” I genuinely believe this to be true. As Jesus took our sins upon himself on the cross, I am glad he didn’t wait until he felt like doing  it. He did it in obedience that was fueled by His love toward us. That said, let us do love, even if we don’t feel it yet.

This is a topic that has many facets . . . I would love to hear your thoughts!

Photo via.

About Stephanie Krier

Stephanie Krier Stephanie Krier was raised in beautiful Nor Cal. She and her husband Bobby moved to Boston in 2007, but recently relocated to a little village near Aberdeen, Scotland for her husband's grad program at RGU. Stephanie graduated from UMASS with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Psychology and a Music Minor. She loves to see how individuals are shaped and influenced by society. Now that she lives in the Scottish shire, she spends her free time doing a bit of gardening, blogging about her new life in Scotland (, exploring the countryside with her dog, Luther, and visiting castles with her husband!
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4 Responses to Doing Love

  1. Kristin Dwyer says:

    This was really good. I personally don’t like the word love. It’s such nonsense to me that we have one word that describes VERY different things. We use it for that feeling we get when we fall for someone (adoration, appreciation, affection) when we are in a relationship (commitment) or when we just really like something. It’s so commonly used as a describing word when, it makes a lot more sense to use it as a verb. I don’t know who Michael W. Smith or DC Talks is so I had never heard any of this before (the blessing and curse of growing up outside the church)

    • Stephanie Krier says:

      Kristin, you’re not missing much… except for a lot of awesome/embarrassing memories. 🙂 I know what you mean about the word ‘love’ being thrown around. I think we should all do a better job of preserving the depth of it’s meaning by using it only when it’s very true to us.

  2. Krysta says:

    Thanks Steph! I’ve come to think of emotions as indications of what we believe. I’m scared because I’m afriad I’ll fail. I’m happy because I believe you love me. We aren’t emotional all the time, but I don’t think that means I stopped believing in those things. But anytime I’m emotional, I know it has something to do with what I believe, whether it be something untrue or something true. And sometimes what I believe is not the same thing as what I know intellectually. Hence, mixed emotions! Contradictions of character! Voila. The human heart is a deceitful thing because it can believe the wrong things too, like I’m ugly, I’ll never succeed…etc. But when I believe something true, usually a revelation about how God loves me, I have peace! And something deeper that does not have a word in English to describe.

    • Stephanie Krier says:

      Krysta… that is really good. Seriously… it gives me a lot to think about now…
      And it explains why we act out so passionately in society: activists, sports fans, protestors, Bieber fans… etc.

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