What Is Love?

25

February 5, 2013 by A Girl Like Me

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Romeo and Juliet. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcey. Bella and Edward. Three epic love stories that withstood the test of time, trial, and even immortality. As girls, we live for stories like these. Stories that make us dream of a day when we too will experience our epic romance. When we meet the man who would make us give up our lives and souls for the opportunity to love him and be with him. Ahhhh….love…..isn’t it grand?

This month we are going to look at this idea of love. Really allow ourselves to grasp the concept in a way that I think for most of us, we have never really grasped before. We need to look at how the media has distorted our view of love and then turn back to our source of truth, the Bible, to really decipher what it’s truly supposed to look like. So let’s get started shall we?

If I’m being for real, I adore a good love story. I love the drama and suspense. The agony of loss, and the resolution when true love conquers everything in a glorious happily ever after ending. But c’mon, is this really what love is like? Is love really this all consuming emotion that causes people to do incredibly stupid things in its name? Is it really something that would make you move mountains and give up all you have just to keep it? And when times get tough, is it really something you can fall out of?

I guess to grapple with these questions, we have to get down to viewing love in its most basic form. What I mean is that we need to decide exactly what love is. After searching the scriptures and really looking at what they had to say on the matter, I came to one simple conclusion:

Love is ALWAYS a choice FIRST that is then followed by emotion. 

In our culture today we have been fed the lie that love is this all powerful feeling that we have no control over and are helpless to. When we “fall in love” we are overtaken by butterflies in our stomaches, thoughts filled to the brim on the object of our love, and this gut-wrenching emotion that our lives could not survive without this person. Well ladies, I hate to burst your romantic bubble, but this is NOT what love is. Love is, has, and always will be a decision. A choice that can and even at times cannot be followed by an emotion.

If you search anywhere in scripture where the word love is mentioned, you’ll see that that in its context, love is always a choice that is made. Heck, it’s even a commandment as well. Don’t believe me? Look at some of these passages:

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son”

Matthew 26:36-38: “…which is the greatest commandent? You shall love the Lord your God….you shall love your neighbor as yourself”

1 Corinthians 13:1-7: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

If love were simply an emotion based on circumstance like media today tells us, then how on earth could Christ love us when we fail him daily? God chose to love us. He chose to love us in spite of our short-comings, in spite of our failing him, and in spite of the possibility we would not love him back. He chooses second by second to love us, and seeing as we are to love like him, it would make sense that we too must choose love over  hoping for a feeling.

When I was dating Jeff, there were certain emotions that I was definitely feeling. The butterflies, the longing to be near him, the sweaty palms when we he came close. If I look solely at what media tells me, then I was certainly in love. But the thing is, I wasn’t. In a way, it could have been the Lord sewing seeds of love into my heart, but it wasn’t until I made the decision to love Jeff…no matter what…that I can say I truly believed I loved him.

There are days when I wake up and look at Jeff and all those same feelings at the beginning are still there making my choice to love him so simple. But then there are days when my heart feels anything but love for him, yet in my choosing to love in spite of what my emotions say, I am actually loving him more correctly than when the ooey-gooey feelings are there.

Girls, we have to let go of the notion that our hearts are the ones in control of our ability to love. Because according to Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all else. Who can understand it?” Our hearts will lie to us. They will tell us we are in love when really we are merely infatuated with the unrealistic ideal of what love is. Love is a choice. It’s a choice that demands our humility and our sacrifice. Love is not sunshine and roses, love is painful and trying and redemptive. And through the obedience of choosing to love, we then can experience the beautiful and joyous emotions that come from a heart that loves rightly.

So as we moved deeper into the month and this topic of love, may we see it for what it truly is and what it certainly is not. And in the end, may we understand and know what it means to be loved by God and to love others just like he did.

25 thoughts on “What Is Love?

  1. Lindsey says:

    Agree with this post 100%. I am very much a romantic, but I know that romantic ideals of high passion and desperation and despair are better left that way, as ideals. The first guy I ever loved did not love me back, and I stuck with him for years. Even when he didn’t treat me with the respect I deserved, I still chose to love him. Recognizing that this love was MY CHOICE saved me from feeling embittered towards my best friend. I chose to love him, in spite of my friends’ evidence of what a terrible decision I was making.

    Now, over five years later, I have made a few new choices. I choose to love God, everyday. Some days are easier than others- right now, I don’t feel him as close to me as I used to. But I choose to love him anyway because I know he is there. He brought me a wonderful man who cares for me and chooses to love me every day, even when it is difficult for me to love myself. He inspires me to return the favor, to choose to love him every day from now until forever.

    Love is a choice. Uhm, the end?

  2. romeo says:

    I like this so much

  3. Cari says:

    Love this :) i like the Edward and Bella reference :)

  4. Rebekah W. says:

    Love this post so much. My “one word” is Love, so I’m so happy that we’ll be talking about Love this month. I need the kickstarter for this year. :)

  5. Sara says:

    I recently read a book, Redemption by Karen Kingsbury, that so very clearly illustrated this idea of love being a decision that isn’t always followed by emotion (or at least the emotions we associate with love). I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good book to read!

  6. Vanessa says:

    Loved the post and agree with it 100% All my life I have been a romantic person, and thought, and hoped, that whenever I had a boyfriend it was going to be like the movies. When I had my first boyfriend, who is now my fiance, I was disappointed that it wasn’t like the movies, that even though I loved him it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. However, one day at church the pastor told us the same thing, we need to choose to love, and that is when I can say that our relationship changed and we cared more about the other. Every time we are mad we tell each other that even though we don’t want to we choose to love each other, and it makes the day so different than when we were just mad and not wanting to deal with it. We are getting married in less than 3 months, and this is something we need to keep in mind even more so that we are about to begin our life together :)

    Thank you for this post, it was a great reminder and very encouraging as well

  7. Chelsea says:

    I needed to hear this so much today. This fantasy world of love has always been one of my greatest idols when it comes to viewing God and His plans for me in terms of marriage and a husband. I get caught up in the fantasy world of it all, even when I’m not experiencing it firsthand. i know that God placed a desire for love and marriage in my heart, and that He is going to fulfill those beyond my wildest dreams. But at the same time, it’s my responsibility to come boldly before the throne of God to humbly lay down MY ideas about love and romance and marriage, so that God alone can fill me up with His blessings. If I continue to focus on what I want and what I think I need, then I don’t leave space for God to write my romance. This was such a good reminder of that, so thank you. I’m so very much looking forward to the posts that follow!

    • purpleandblueswirls says:

      That’s exactly what I need to do as well. I really needed this right now, too. It’s so easy to believe my feelings, but God wakes me up to the truth. The truth that He has just the right man planned for me at just the right time. It’s painful to give my feelings to God, but I know it will bring healing and purity. My fantasies about romance are so whimsical and silly when seen through eyes that have been woken up to the truth. It’s still way easier to believe myself and not God, but He as shown me that He knows best. I need to keep reminding myself of all this stuff. I know that being pure and God-centered now will make my future romance and marriage better.
      Will be praying for you and all the other girls that have trouble with this.
      and Thank you, Heather!

  8. rebekahlorrainea says:

    Love is a choice.
    Love in a relationship is the basis of the commitment.
    Love becomes a promise.
    Love is frightening in that when we commit to love, it becomes expected by the object of our love.
    There are no perfect lovers on earth.

  9. Katelyn says:

    I love this post. I wrote a letter to my boyfriend after we were dating for a while explaining this and why I didn’t use the words “I love you” causally. I think it is soo important to tell our loved ones we love them, but I also think we should also know and treasure what those words really mean. There is a great song by Francesca Battistelli (hope it’s ok that I reference another artist besides Tenth Ave ;) ) called “Worth It”. I think the lyrics really speak to the point that love is a CHOICE.

  10. Rachel Heiks says:

    Woah I’ve never actually thought of love like that. Pretty powerful

  11. Elizabeth Cook says:

    AMEN!!! It took me sooooo long to realize this…and it wasn’t until I started (emphasis on “started”) to really understand how God loves us that it began to make sense. Scripture is, of course, our first and greatest reference to understanding how God loves us, but I read a fiction book that I have to credit with opening the door a crack for me. “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers- it is loosely based on the story of Hosea and Gomer, and OH MY did it rock my perception of God’s love for me! Can’t wait to continue exploring this topic with you girls this month- keep up the great ministry!

  12. Diane Blog says:

    I’m having a wow God moment..my boyfriend and I are having a rough time right now but this is everything I believe and have been trying to sort out in my head! And this opened my eyes to how GREAT God’s love for us is. Thank you guys! I look forward to the rest of this month.

  13. This was really thought provoking. I think realizing this fact – that Love is a choice first, helps me understand how Jesus loves me. Also, it helps defeat the lie that just because I don’t feel like loving someone doesn’t mean that it is ok to accept those emotions. Love is a commandment. Wow. Interesting stuff.

  14. Cynthia says:

    Amen. ; )

  15. Katarina says:

    Thank you so much for writing this it is SO true!! And you explain it perfectly!! Thanks again!!;) XD

  16. janer14 says:

    I’m so glad God led me to this blog! It feels like you and Kelly somehow know what I’m going through right now and what I need to hear. You ladies have blessed me so much! I wish I could repay you in some way. I can’t say thank you enough. :’)

  17. Thanks so much for that encouragement!
    You are right, the media does try to tell us what love is, but we also see that Hollywood relationships never seem to work out. A correlation? I think so :)
    Thanks so much or your fresh perspective. We need more positive people like you getting the truth out there!

  18. Stef says:

    i love this post!!!! it has answered so many of my questions. when feelings wash over me, i think that maybe this is love. Then i fixate on it for a long time, hence wasting my time. I know God wants me to wait for the right person, but it is easier said than done. But this post has made it more reasonable and that waiting for the Lord’s choice is the best thing to be done. I thank God that He has sewed these thoughts into your heart and mind, Heather, and thanks for sharing it with us! :) :)

  19. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy…
    I had just started reading Pride and Prejudice when I read this post and thought, “Oh, well now I know what’s going to happen!” Haha :)

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