Falling in Love
During summer before our final year in college, we had our On-the-Job-Training (OJT). I met a guy who eventually became my boyfriend. Six months into the relationship he told me he is married. Though I only saw myself being with him for a few months, I was still devastated. I was furious I wanted to hurt him. I was angry at him for lying. I was confused how I got into that situation.
Every night, I cried to Jesus remorseful and ashamed for committing a grave sin. At that time, I thought merely dating a married man already constitutes adultery. I considered it as one of the gravest sins because of the Ten Commandments. I was also afraid I could get imprisoned and would be considered a criminal.
I thought asking forgiveness from God through prayer wasn’t enough. I needed to do something to make amends with Him. So I went to church to participate in the sacrament of confession hoping it would help me find favor from God and be forgiven. It wasn’t easy to confess my sins to a stranger; I was grateful the confessional box provided privacy. After confessing my sins to the priest, he told me to pray three Our Father, three Hail Mary, and three Glory Be. I lingered a few seconds waiting to be counseled, admonished, or even scolded, but that was it. I felt like I was just given a prescription. I followed what I was told but everything felt routinary and void of meaning.
Our relationship went on and off. I wanted to end it but I couldn’t.
Love Is a Decision, Not Just a Feeling
One night, I cried toJesus asking why I couldn’t get out of that sinful relationship. Every direction I took was painful.
I was surprised God answered me right at that moment: “Because you chose to stay.”
This was the first time I heard God’s voice. It wasn’t an audible voice but an answer through reason. I knew it didn’t come from me. I didn’t know the answer and would like to understand, hence I asked. I even thought it may be God’s doing I got into that relationship and continued to stay. In the first place, I didn’t know the guy is married; God knew yet He allowed it to happen. Secondly, I tried so hard to end the relationship but I couldn’t.
But God’s answer made perfect sense! I realized, contrary to what most people say, love is not just a feeling; it’s a decision.
I didn’t “fall in love” like it was out of my control and volition. It didn’t “just happen” as if I couldn’t do anything about it. From the beginning, it had been my choice. I chose to allow that guy to get to know me. I agreed to go out with him. I decided to be in that relationship regardless of what I know or didn’t know. I had the choice to leave or stay regardless of what I felt. And I couldn’t get out of the relationship because I chose to stay. Being faced with difficult or painful choices doesn’t change the fact I have a choice. It was my decision from the beginning.
So I prayed to God, “Jesus, please help me move on even as I stay in the relationship.”
(Word of caution: Choosing to stay in a relationship most probably won’t help in getting out of it. The only way to end it is to end it.)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)Tweet
It was my final year in college so I got busier as months passed. After graduation, I was determined to get employed within a week, and God answered that prayer. My primary goal was to be successful in my career in the shortest possible time. And I didn’t want anything or anyone to hinder me from my goals.
I got busier and so did he. Our dates became less frequent but also became more intimate.
He brought me to a motel. “How cheap! What do you think of me?! You think you’d get what you want by bringing me here?!” I said to him, but only in my mind.
The mere act of him bringing me to a motel felt disgusting. It was not only offensive but demeaning and shameful.
I will not do it! It is already a sin having a relationship with him; should I commit further sin by giving myself to him?! And then what? A temporary pleasure with permanent consequences? He’d rob what belongs to my future husband!
But I also couldn’t deny I wanted to be with him. The more he brought me to private places, the less degrading it felt, and the more I longed for him. Allowing him to bring me to these places only meant putting myself in a more difficult situation.
If it were not for God, it would’ve been so easy to follow my sinful desires. God used a lot of reasons to keep me sober. The possibility of getting pregnant is a consequence I never ever want to risk.
So I kept telling myself: Learn from other people’s experiences. Do not allow history to repeat itself; do not allow mistakes from the past to happen again. Remember your goals and aspirations; one mistake can ruin everything. Would you allow an unworthy man to ruin everything you’ve worked hard for? What example are you setting for your siblings? Do the right thing, if not for yourself, at least for your family. One mistake may affect a lot of people, even those yet to be conceived.
On our 3rd year anniversary, I called him to plan for a date. He said he was busy. I wasn’t, so I demanded. But he was firm. I got angry and ended the relationship over the phone.
It was out of whim so I thought it was just one of those temporary break-ups. Days passed, I shed no tear. I did not miss him. I got tired of him, of our situation and of all the emotional roller-coaster. I felt relieved I was finally out of it. So I took that opportunity to completely free myself from him and stay away from him.
True Love is More than a Decision
I realized how easy it is to follow my sinful desires, and how difficult, even impossible, it is to obey God. My own desire, strength, and decision to obey God will never suffice. On my own, I will never be able to adhere to His commandments. Even religious traditions and practices were routinary and void of meaning. None of these brought me out of sin.
Despite my sinfulness, God answered my prayer. He helped me move on by tiring me of my pointless relationship. I was freed from that sin and was prevented from committing further sin not because of my own self-control, determination or sobriety but because of God’s enabling power, faithfulness, grace, and mercy. God’s protection and preservation of me all those years, even up to this moment, made a permanent imprint in my heart because I know it would’ve been so easy for me to commit further sin.
If loving God means keeping His commandments, then it is impossible for me to love God according to His righteous and holy standard out of my own decision alone. It is also impossible for me to truly love others out of my choice alone. There is more to love than emotions and decisions. We cannot truly love God and others without God’s enabling power and grace.
We cannot truly love God and others because of our sinful nature. Man’s nature is centered on self, not on God. The Bible says: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
And when people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. This death means punishment with eternal destruction; forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power. Man is condemned to eternal death and punishment because of sin.
But because of God’s unfailing love for us, He made a way to reconcile us back to Him. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
Eternal life through Christ Jesus is a free gift of God. Salvation is not earned by our own effort or merit. It is a free gift by God’s grace (undeserved favor) in response to our faith in Christ. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
It was Jesus, not us, who fulfilled God’s requirement for a holy life and He is the only perfect sacrifice given by God to pay the penalty for our sins. It is all achieved by Jesus, not by us. So none of us can boast about it.
When we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ alone for salvation, He promised to give us a new heart. Only then will we be able to truly love God and others through His power and grace.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)Tweet
June 2007, a month after God removed me from that sin, He gifted me the greatest love anyone could ever have: an unconditional, faithful, steadfast love that belongs to me for all eternity — knowing Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.
Read the whole series about her life story: