Whatever You Do, Don’t Fall In Love

When Alice slips through the looking glass and encounters Humpty Dumpty in that strange land, she’s quite confused by him. She can never figure out what he means because he uses a word in so many different ways. When she complains about it, he defends himself: "When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."* Humpty’s response is a non-answer:

When I make a word do a lot of work like that, I always pay it extra.**

When it comes to love, we certainly force one word to mean a lot of things. Our simple English language has a single word for love. We love our parents. We love the hot guy who walks by, even if we don’t know his name. And we love a cute little orphaned child we meet on a mission trip. We might even love Fluffernutter sandwiches. We stretch one word to encompass the full range of love the average person will experience.

But other languages are more complex and precise. They identify the specific kind of love being expressed in each relationship. Take Hebrew for example. We hesed our parents. We ahabah the hot guy walking by. We raham the orphan. (And there’s actually not a term to describe your love for a sandwich.)

Stretching and twisting the word love into so many meanings make us vulnerable to the Humpty Dumpty Syndrome. I meet with girls day after day who "fell" in love and thought the guy fell with them, but he’s gone and now they’re shattered.

Ahabah (pronounced "AH-ha-vah") is the Hebrew word that might be used to describe two people falling in love. This "love" is characterized by a spontaneous, impulsive display of affection and attraction. We find in the Bible a few stories of people who fell in love (ahabah). A lot, actually.

Hamor the Hivite fell in love with Dinah. The Bible says, "He was deeply attracted to Dinah … and he loved (ahabah) the girl and spoke tenderly to her" (Gen. 34:3 nasb). He ended up raping her, which prompted her brothers to seek revenge and start a war with the Hivites.

Samson fell in love (ahabah) with a hot chick named Delilah. She fell in love with the idea of having power over him. He ended up trapped by her, stripped of his gifting from God, and eventually dead.

David fell in love (ahabah) with a powerful heiress named Michal. Their attraction was short lived, and she grew distant. Eventually, she hated him. At one of David’s most exciting moments as king—when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem—she mocked him in front of the entire household. He ended up in an empty, hate-filled marriage.

Jacob fell in love (ahabah) with Rachel. Many Bible scholars agree that Rachel wasn’t the woman God wanted him to marry, but Jacob could not control his attraction. It’s possible that he was meant to marry her sister, which he did. But he wanted Rachel so badly that he served as an indentured slave for fourteen years to earn the right to have her. Then he was caught up in the dysfunction of two wives who were sisters, not to mention their maids, who were also his sexual partners—very complicated. The dysfunction carried on with his sons, who were constantly creating drama. Jacob ended up in a life filled with sadness and conflict.

I could go on.

Bottom line: Bad things always happened when people in the Bible fell in love. Perhaps the worst consequence was the fact that ahabah diminished over time.

What advice does the Bible give specifically about falling in love? Glad you asked. It says this:

I adjure you … that you not stir up or awaken love (ahabah) until it pleases (Song of Songs 2:7).

In other words, "Please don’t fall in love."

This verse has been a tad misused by the abstinence movement; I don’t think it is actually about avoiding sexual expression until marriage. The words are repeated three times in Song of Songs, including verse 8:4, long after Solomon and his bride are wed and have consummated their love. What could have prompted this obvious challenge to hold back even after marriage? Because the Creator knows our hearts weren’t designed to withstand the impact of such a fall.

I think the point of the verse is this—don’t ever let attraction (ahabah) grow stronger than agape (chosen love rooted in one source alone: God).

If you’re a girl who is prone to fall in love, maybe it’s time to fast from guys to feast on God’s love. Only when you are fulfilled by His love will be you capable of expressing agape love in a relationship with a guy.

How can you know if you need to do such a thing? That’s easy. If you’re boy crazy, you do. If you’re already God crazy, you don’t.

Are you boy crazy or God crazy?

This blog entry is based on content from Get Lost: A Girl’s Guide To True Love by Dannah Gresh to be released in April 2013.

* Carroll L. 1965, Through The Looking Glass, New York: Random House (Original Work published 1865), page 46.
** Carroll L. 1965, Through The Looking Glass, New York: Random House (Original Work published 1865), page 95.

About Author

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is completely in love with her chocolate labradoodle, Stormie. (But just for the record, she doesn't like dog kisses.) She's been married to Bob for over twenty years and loves that he brings her "freshly sharpened bouquets of pencils." She's the mom to Lexi, Autumn, and Rob. Oh, and she co-wrote Lies Young Women Believe with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth!

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  • Skyler

    This is probably the dumbest question, but i’ve been struggling with this lately…. how do I fall in Love with God? I mean i certainly care about him, but i wouldn’t say I love him, and this is just eating me up inside because i know for a fact that i need and i want to love him because he has always been there for me, and i know that he loves me so much like i have no words to describe how deep his love is for me…… but i just don’t understand why i can’t say that i love him. In fact i am very disappointed with myself because reflecting on all that he has done for me……i just don’t know what to do…..i’ve been praying about it and i just keep asking God to teach me how to fall in love with him…… i’m so scared because i feel like, what if i can’t love him? Or what if its too late?

    • Sarah @ Revive Our Hearts

      Oh, Skyler…don’t be discouraged! Falling in love with God is a process. It is just like falling in love with a friend–you have to spend time with them, and get to know them better, in order to fall in love. That’s what it is with God, too.

      When you know what He has done for you, by sending His Son–when you know the salvation He offers you–and the payment He worked out for your sin–then you have a depth of gratitude. That depth of gratitude leads you to read His message to you (the Bible), learn more about Him, and spend time with Him! You want to indeed honor Him because He has always been there for you and you know of His deep love for you! So, you start on a journey of LOVING Him in return. That takes spending time with Him and learning more about Him.

      Yours is not a dumb question at all. I have loved the Lord for a LONG time! But I sure can’t say I loved Him in earlier years like I do now. It’s been an incredible journey as I look back on it! I have fallen more deeply in love with Him more so because of His Word than from any other thing. Talk to Him and tell Him just what you wrote to us. Ask Him to help you know Him more so that you can fall deeply in love with Him. Look up to Him and offer Him the desire to love Him as He deserves. Then, start on a journey of reading/studying His Word for the rest of your days. You will find that as you know Him more through His Word, as you know more what He has done for you through His Word, as you experience His faithfulness to help you and be with you–as you talk honestly with Him every morning and every night–you will fall more deeply in love with Him! Don’t let it be a “chore” that you “have” to do something to love Him, but let it be a sweet offering of your heart to Him.

      Does that make sense? He enjoys the journey with you; He longs to hear your voice open your heart and life to Him each day. He speaks through His Word. Find some type of Bible Study to be a part of. It is nice if you have a group to do it with; but, if you don’t, find a study and do it on your own. You will meet the Lord there!

      I am praying for you!!

      • Skyler

        Thank you so much for your advice!! This really means a lot to me! You’ve really encouraged me! At first I felt scared, but now that you told me about the fact that falling in love with God is a slow process, i feel a lot better now! And yes it does make sense! Thank you. Please pray for me that i will get to know God and that i will fall in love with him please! Also please pray that my excitement for God will not leave me! Thank you again for your advice! I pray that God will continue to bless you and this website!

        • Sarah @ Revive Our Hearts

          @Skyler…I have prayed for you! And I will pray for you every time God brings you to my mind! Yes, keep your passion for Him and the excitement to know Him more fully–that I pray. I am excited for you, Skyler. You are on an incredible journey; you will look back someday and realize how your heart for Him has increased and sometimes could almost burst with love for Him. Stay steady on the course. At times, life will burden you down and you will lose the glow, but don’t be discouraged, just get back on course by reading your Bible and seeking Him through prayer. It is all a part of the process. The glow will return. God bless you, sweet friend! Praying for you!