When I was in High School and college, it often troubled me that I didn’t feel that I loved God. I found that whole days would go by without my even thinking about God, and I questioned whether I could truly say that I loved God if I often wasn’t even consciously thinking about Him.
And then, on an average day, during an average trip to buy groceries, I had an epiphany. To poorly paraphrase an ancient hymn, “twas peanut butter my fears relieved”. This is how it happened: despite the fact that I prefer crunchy peanut butter, I reached for the smooth one – because that’s what Jeremy prefers. And suddenly, it was as if the heavens opened and light poured down! I realized that I finally understood that you know you love someone not because of consciously felt emotions, but when you choose what THEY prefer, to please them rather than yourself.
This may seem a rather obvious thing, but it was a spiritual turn-around point for me. I realized that I don’t think about Jeremy for much of the day as I’m busy and meeting other people etc… but I know I love him because, at a deep level, I arrange my life around him and have his preferences, desires and hopes tucked away in my subconscious. I may not actively be feeling mushy smushy things for him, but when I buy smooth peanut butter, or call up friends we’re dining with to remind them that he doesn’t eat cheese… I show that I do love him. How freeing to see this parallel with our spiritual walk! I may not think about God every moment of the day, but by choosing to tell the truth, or quiet the judgmental voices in my head, or to say something encouraging – I show that I DO love Him and that what He desires is important to me.
I just about did a little jig… right there in front of that jar of smooth peanut butter.