Forming our loves


This is obvious on one hand, but on the other we typically don’t appreciate its truth: we come to love the things we do through a process.

I wasn’t born with an innate love of “Star Wars” – I came to love it for a variety of reasons unique to my story as a person.

The scary thing is, I think we usually just accept what we love instead of asking ourselves either “SHOULD I love this thing?” or “Did I come to love this thing through a healthy process?”

I recently had some time to kill and decided to fill out some lists on Facebook of books I’ve read, movies I’ve seen and TV shows I’ve watched. I was feeling pretty good about myself when I was able to list over a hundred books I’ve read in my life…and then came the over 300 movies and 100 TV shows I’ve watched.

Wonder where a lot of heavy influence on my loves is coming from, huh? As horrified as I was to realize the shear multitude of pop culture that has wound itself between my ears, I am quite confident I’m not unique in this regard.

We hate to admit that we choose the things we love. We act instead as if our loves are the very definition of predestination, handed down by divine fiat from Valhalla (except when we – inexplicably – “fall out of” love).

It’s interesting that numerous Christians believe in some variation of the idea of a soul mate, someone who was “made for me,” even though this idea comes from Greek mythology and has no Christian basis.

That’s not to say that we aren’t all attracted to particular things or people more so than we are to others, because of course we are. But to love something or someone – that’s a choice. Despite strong feelings we may have towards something or someone, we decide how we act, which means we decide what we love.

This is a REALLY important thing to understand because it runs so counter to the narrative we hear from culture. And it means that you don’t have to embrace some form of implicitly fatalistic idea of your life by assuming “I love what I love and them’s the breaks.”

This is the whole point behind the idea of discipleship. It’s that you are formed through various disciplines into an intentional kind of person.

Christian discipleship is intended to form people who are a lot like Jesus. The value of an orthodox understanding of Christianity is it saves us from a litany of new ideas on who Jesus was – in theory, orthodox Christianity passes down the understanding of Jesus that his contemporary students, the Apostles, had (in other words, those who knew Him best).

So we really ought to take some time to examine what, exactly, the things we love are because those things are forming who we are as people.

From a Christian perspective I recommend the work of James K. A. Smith, a professor of philosophy at Calvin College. For a recent and brief overview of some of his thoughts, here’s a short article written last month in Christianity Today magazine:

Whether you are Christian or not, though, I would ask that we take some time to meditate on the things we love and begin to investigate, with the help of good friends and community, if they are helping or hurting us.

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