February 5, 2013 by A Girl Like Me
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.