Falling in Love is like Falling Asleep

falling in love
is like
falling asleep


  • You can help it along (intentionally or unintentionally)

You may not feel particularly tired, but if you lie still on a comfortable bed with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room, there is a very good chance that after a while you will fall asleep. If you want to fall asleep, then you will be well served by doing these things. If you do not want to fall asleep, then it would be rather foolhardy to do these things.

Similarly, you don’t have to be completely smitten with someone to fall in love with them. If the conditions are right for falling in love, then it should come as no surprise that people fall in love, even if that was not their goal. If a young man and a young woman start spending lots of time together, conversing and sharing their intimate thoughts and feelings with each other, then it would not be unusual for them to fall in love. If two people are courting, they can “assist” the process of falling in love, by buying each other gifts, writing romantic notes, holding hands, etc. On the other hand, two people who are not in a position to marry each other should avoid these types of things.

  • but you can’t force it.

Sometimes, though, despite all your attempts to fall asleep, you just can’t seem to do it. You’ve set the conditions properly, but you’re still awake. Maybe it’s a medical problem, maybe you had too much caffeine, maybe your mind is too preoccupied. Whatever it is, in spite of your desire to fall asleep, your body isn’t letting it happen.

While love is a choice, and you can always choose to love someone, you can’t make them love you back. And you might find that despite all your efforts, loving them is a challenge. Differences in personalities, interests, maturity, etc., may present significant barriers to falling in love.

  • You can push it away

You can avoid falling asleep. It might even be unintentional. You’re engrossed in a movie or something on TV, something you’re reading, or a project you’re working on. If you had gone to bed hours ago, you would be asleep now, but because you have been preoccupied with something else, you’re still awake. Or, even if you are sleepy, you can force yourself to stay awake (for a while, at least). You can drink some coffee, listen to loud music, go for a jog, etc. It might get progressively harder to stay awake, but you can increase your efforts, and usually keep sleep at bay for much longer than normal.

Same thing with falling in love. You can avoid it by being preoccupied with other matters, or you can recognize the signs and take intentional steps to prevent it.

  • but you can’t always avoid it.

Try as you might to stay awake, eventually your body is going to give in to exhaustion. Even in the midst of a situation totally unconducive to sleep, if you are tired enough, you will fall asleep at some point, like it or not.

Here, perhaps, the parallel is weakest. I don’t know that there are any situations where you absolutely cannot resist falling in love. The similarity exists though, because there are times when the natural process just happens, sometimes before you even realize it. You weren’t looking for love, or expecting to fall in love, but you meet someone seemingly irresistible, and BAM!, you fall in love. Maybe you even tried to avoid it, but the attraction was just too strong to resist for long.

I don’t think that there is one “right way” to fall in love. There is nothing inherently superior about instant mutual attraction versus an intentional process. There are times when romance should be avoided or delayed, but it can also be a sign of immaturity to resist or put off a relationship (due to fear or unreasonable expectations).  The key is to be obedient to God and use wisdom in the choices we make.

The phrase “falling in love” is somewhat problematic in itself, as it implies chance or accident, and feeds into the false perception of love as being equivalent to romantic feelings. In a sense, “falling in love” is a code-phrase for “the emergence of romantic feelings.” I’m not sure it’s necessary to reject it as a false or worldly concept, but we should seek to imbue it with more meaning and convey a full understanding of what love is.

Fear or Love?

Do you believe in Jesus because you love Him, or because you fear hell? Should children obey their parents because they fear being punished, or because they love them?

This question stems from some negative reviews of Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart.

Originally posted 10/2/2004, on bibleforums.org:

Which is better–obedience out of fear, or obedience out of love? I think we would all agree that obedience out of love is better. From what I’ve seen about this book, Tedd Tripp is saying the same thing. He is focused on the child’s heart moreso than their actions, and the parent’s role in protecting and guiding their child’s heart.

The difference of opinion appears to be in the best way to effectively guide and prepare children so that they will be most likely to acheive that goal of obedience to Christ out of love.

Which is better–obedience out of fear, or disobedience? Some people may disagree with me, but I think obedience always trumps disobedience. Every child I’ve ever seen is disobedient, so something needs to be done to help them move from disobedience to obedience. The big question is whether that is best accomplished by a two-part process (‘obey because there are consequences’ first, followed by ‘obey because you want to’) or a one-part process that skips right to the final goal.

The Old Testament tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; but it seems to talk even more about fearing God and keeping His commandments. Why did God wait 4,000 years before sending Jesus to redeem us for our sins? Why did He lay down the law to the Israelites and stress judgement for so long, instead of skipping right to grace and love? (not that grace and love are absent from the OT; they just don’t seem to be the focal point like they are in the NT.)

When I was a child, I loved my parents, but that isn’t necessarily why I obeyed them. When I was young, I obeyed them because I would get spanked if I didn’t. As I got older, I continued to obey them (for the most part) even if I knew I wouldn’t get caught, because they had taught me right from wrong and I loved and respected them.

Soldiers in basic training do what they’re told because their commanding officer will make their lives miserable if they don’t. Yet when their training is over, many soldiers would voluntarily lay down their lives for their commander. I doubt if our military would function nearly as well if it wasn’t for some healthy fear of disobeying. Now, soldiers aren’t children, and children should not be treated like soldiers, but I think the principle still applies. I don’t think it’s wrong to instill a little fear, because that is often a necessary motivator. It’s hard to teach someone love and respect if they won’t first obey.

It is wrong to overemphasize fear, or to stop at step 1 of a 2-step process. Some churches and leaders are guilty of this. They get so wrapped up in the negative consequences of disobedience, that they end up failing in their goal of guiding the heart, because outward behaviour gets priority instead. They don’t intentionally put outward behaviour above heart change, but that’s the message that comes across. As with most things in life, the best approach is balance not one or the other. It can be difficult to find the right balance.

More thoughts on “the fear of the Lord…”

Originally posted 10/4/2004 on bibleforums.org:

Some people get hung up on the word fear, because they associate it with terror. It has more to do with reverence and respect for the power and holiness of God. An illustration I like that sheds a little light on a proper context for fear goes something like this: a group of teenagers are hanging out and someone suggests going to do something that they shouldn’t do. One teen objects, and says “no, I’d be scared my dad would find out.” Another teen sneers, “what you’re afraid your daddy will hurt you if he finds out?” The teen replies, “no, I’m afraid if he found out it would hurt him.” This isn’t a perfect illustration, but it gives a picture of “being afraid” in a proper context.

I am reminded of a passage in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (if you haven’t read the Chronicles of Narnia, I highly recommend you do).

If you’re familiar with the story, you know that it is an allegory, and Christ is represented by Aslan the lion. Much of the story centers on four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, and their journeies in Narnia. In the following passage, Mr. & Mrs. Beaver are describing Aslan (Jesus) to them:

“Is he—quite safe?” [asks Susan.] “I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

There is something a little paradoxical about God being our shield, protector, provider, comforter, etc.; yet at the same time He is our fearsome judge and ruler. Is God safe? No, but He’s good, so you can trust Him. He gives us plenty of reason to fear getting on His bad side, but He also gives us His word that He knows what’s best for us and will take good care of us if we trust and obey Him.