Misleading Touch

So there’s this guy. You hardly know him; he is your celebrity crush, the one you’ve admired from afar for the past 2 weeks. Somehow, though, he notices you. Perhaps he asks you to take a little stroll around campus with him over lunch break. As you walk, arms swinging carelessly (or calculatedly?) your hands brush and he laces his fingers through yours. Your heart skips a beat, and suddenly you know — you’re in love.

Or, are you?

Our senses are very powerful things; we all know how they can affect us. For instance, you can just be chillin and not thinking about food at all when you smell chocolate chip cookies and suddenly you’re starving. And we all know they play soft, slow songs at church during communion for a reason, to lull us into a reverent and contemplative state. Senses are very manipulating — and physical touch is no exception.

It’s all right to let our senses manipulate us within some contexts. For instance, I think it’s okay to let music sway our emotions in a worship atmosphere because it can actually draw us closer to God. It’s always good to eat cookies. And physical touch and sex have a definite purpose of affirming an emotional bond within the context of marriage, only once you’ve established that connection without it. Notice that I said affirming, not creating. Physical touch is manipulative, you see; it’s the icing on the cake, not the foundation of a relationship. Your body is naturally wired to respond to touch and send a message to your brain that will translate it to love. But here’s the thing: it’s only sensory love. Real love is a decision, not an emotional high. Love lasts. Emotional highs don’t.

You may think you’ve given someone your heart, but have you only given them your body instead?

Here’s a quick way to tell.

1) Did you fall in love before or after the first kiss?

2) When you get in a fight, does making out end the argument better than talking it out?

3) Can you just as easily say “I love you” when you’re having a sucky day as when you’re cuddled on the couch and he’s playing with your hair?

You get the picture. Maybe you’ve never thought about it before, but physical touch can very easily make you feel things you wouldn’t otherwise feel.

In fact, I remember writing in my journal once, “I always feel so unsure about being in this relationship, but when I’m with him, all the doubt goes away.” Pssshh. Of course it did, because we spent half our time together snuggling and kissing and manipulating our emotions. In case you’re wondering, logic won out and we broke up. We both knew we weren’t right for each other, but it was much harder to accept that when physical touch was sending misleading signals to our brains.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like being tricked, and that’s exactly what misplaced physical affection can do. The next time I’m in a relationship, I want to know that it’s real. When I give someone my heart, it’s going to be my decision, influenced by what I know about them and not by what I think I feel. I want to love them for who they are, not how effectively they can manipulate my emotions.

Don’t settle for being tricked. Take control of your own heart and guard yourself both emotionally and physically so that when God brings you The One, you won’t have to rely on faulty, misleading senses to determine how you feel. You’ll know that it’s different. You’ll know that it’s real. You’ll know that it’s love.

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