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Have you ever gone a long time without eating and felt your stomach groan with hunger? In those situations, what was your body telling you? Obviously, it was crying out for some nutritious food. Yet, how often have you consumed chocolate candy out of desperation or convenience, just to get rid of those hunger pangs? I’ve done it several times. What happens?
Initially, feeding your empty stomach with chocolate feels great. The ache goes away, your hunger disappears, and all of the sugar and caffeine hitting your system gives you the sensation of feeling “high.” Buzzing with bliss, you wonder why you don’t eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
About thirty minutes later, however, everything changes. A sharper pain than the one before grips your stomach, and your head becomes dizzy. All of your pleasant feelings degenerate into discomfort worse than your original hunger.
What caused this pain to result?Was there something wrong with the chocolate? No. Chocolate candy is safe to eat, but it doesn’t contain the nutrients necessary for your body to survive. Therefore, when you are hungry, chocolate alone cannot help you. Instead, it makes you feel worse. For your body to thrive, it must receive a steady diet of nutritious food. Then you can enjoy chocolate as a fun dessert. However, you will get sick if you try to live solely on chocolate.
Unfortunately, many singles enter dating relationships by trying to “eat chocolate on an empty stomach.” They approach one another with hungry hearts, hoping that the other person will feed them. This condition can be especially acute when a man or woman feels lonely, rejected, or starved for acceptance. Without love, people become desperate for something to fill the void inside their hearts. A romance, with its potentially sweet taste and emotional highs, seems the likely solution to their hunger.
Looking for love in all the wrong places As a single adult, I was hungry for love and searched repeatedly to find a woman to fulfill me. Every new romance that I entered felt like a chocolate sugar high, with soaring emotions, exhilarating self-esteem boosts, and a sweet sense of security. In the headiness of romantic rapture, my heart thought that a woman could fulfill me forever. Nevertheless, the euphoria inevitably collapsed. Sometimes, it took weeks. Other times, it took months. My wife’s happiness vanished after a year of dating and seven months of marriage.
Regardless of how wonderful a new dating relationship feels, the romantic bliss will eventually wear off. Human affection may taste good, but, like chocolate, it cannot give our hearts what they need for survival. The true hunger of our hearts is to be accepted unconditionally. We need more than just attention, friendship, or sex. We long for someone to love us despite our faults, mistakes, and imperfections. Our hearts remain hollow when no one completely accepts us.
Unconditional loveHumans, however, cannot give each other unconditional love. We get upset or impatient when someone fails to make us happy. Furthermore, we base our love for someone on how well they perform. The root of this problem is sin, which causes constant mistakes, conflicts, and disappointments. No one is accepting, patient, and forgiving all of the time. Therefore, human love is like chocolate because the pleasure doesn’t last. None of us have the ability to accept people unconditionally. The affection we give to each other may taste good initially, but the thrill disappears as our selfish motives demand performance. And this problem lasts from the cradle to the grave.
I don’t mean to sound fatalistic, but we must acknowledge the reality that human love is performance-based. It always has been and always will be. You can date anyone in this world, but that person cannot give your heart the unconditional acceptance that it craves.
This truth also applies in marriage. Someone once asked a pastor, “What is your wife’s opinion of you?”
He replied, “It depends on what day you ask her. Some days she loves me. Other days, I drive her crazy, and she wonders why she married me. My wife and I wish we could love each other perfectly, but it is impossible since we both sin and make choices that hurt each other. God is the only Person who loves us regardless of how we act.”
Is marriage the answer?
Consider those around you. How many of your married friends warn you that marriage is tougher than you think? Yet, how many of your single friends complain of feeling incomplete without a spouse?
All too often, we neglect what our hearts really need and attempt to satisfy ourselves with a cheap substitute called romance. In essence, we try to live on an unhealthy diet of chocolate. But our hearts cannot survive under the demands of performance-based love. We inevitably burn out, wear out, or drop out, from trying to please others.
In my case, I had to reach total exasperation before I grasped that dating and marriage would never fulfill me. I appeared successful to many people, because I’d had several girlfriends and reached my goal of marriage. Those romances, however, never fulfilled me. Either I required too much of a woman, or she expected too much of me. We were sincere in our desire for lasting love, but we couldn’t make it happen.