This post is probably the one I've been most excited to write in this series, because the topic of Love is one I've spent the most time learning about and growing in. A few of the things I'm going to share below are pieces of information I've gathered over the years, and they've really shaped how I view Love. I hope they provide you with some encouragement and excitement too. And a quick aside - I'm going to assume the understanding and acceptance of some basic Biblical truths as I work through this. If you have questions, or want to talk more, please message me! I'm easy to get a hold of on Instagram, or via this contact form. I'm always happy to dialogue and share more about what I believe and why I believe it. Okay, here we go!
Love. This is the one we hear the most about, especially in Christian circles. Love is a choice - a commitment - not just butterflies in your stomach or someone always on your mind (though, I have to admit, those feelings of love are some of my favorites!). So, when I say I love G, it's more than about how I feel towards him. It's about the choice I make to be committed to him, every day, all day. If I were to define love, I think I'd say something like this:
Love is a choice to honor, respect,
and remain committed to a relationship,
despite the ebb and flow of emotion.
Still with me? Good. Let's unpack it a little.
I think one of the best verses to explore a Biblical view of love is John 3:16 -
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
If we think about it, why did God even need to send Jesus? Because humanity had failed. We had been given a covenant (Old Testament), which was essentially a bargain between humanity and God. We were called to live with integrity and, in exchange, God provided a way for us to be united with Him. But humans are flawed because of the sin that happened in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3 - this is where the knowledge of good and evil entered, and created the propensity towards sin that all of us battle) and we couldn't choose good consistently enough to enter the presence of God. It was because of our inability to hold up our end of the covenant that God sent Jesus to hold it up for us (here's a link to a great video explaining covenant relationship and how Jesus fits into it). He desired to be in relationship with us desperately enough to find a way to fulfill our shortcomings Himself.
So, we (people) had failed. We consistently chose things that were not God, and not our relationship with Him. We were doing so many things to make His feeling of Love towards us diminish. But it states, very clearly, that God Loved us and died for us while we were not behaving in love towards Him (Romans 5:6). I think this shows that Love was a choice - God chose to love us, and to act in that love - even if the feeling was anger, frustration, and disappointment for the ways we had turned against Him and chosen not to pursue Him again and again.
This informs our view of Love dramatically. I don't always feel loving towards G. We're a real couple, with real issues. We argue. We get tired. We choose ourselves over each other. But every day I choose to love G. I choose to be faithful towards him. To choose him over all other relationships. I choose to respect him. To honor him. To try to be patient, kind and gentle towards him. I choose the action of Love. And, to be honest, when the feeling of love is there, too, it's easy.
But what about when the feeling is gone? What happens when I feel alone? Misunderstood? Not supported? Not wanted? Not chosen by him? What then?
I think the most important thing we can do - as wives, as friends, as family - is to build a framework of Love around the relationship so it can help hold us in place when the feelings are gone. I'm not going to quote it perfectly, but in a sermon from friend and pastor Dave Lomas of Reality San Francisco, he talked about the importance of building a structure around our relationships. These structures are built from truths about the relationship, and who the person we're in relationship with is (i.e. their character).
So, in those moments I struggle in my relationship with God - you know those moments. The ones where you question how He could let so many children be stuck in refugee camps. Why He let someone you love die - in those moments I can lean into the structure I've built from truths about His character (He is just. He is loving. He is faithful. He is unchanging. He desires good for me) and those truths will hold me in place as I wrestle with the questions I have and emotions I feel. Make sense?
Now, to bring it closer to home: I know G is honest. I know he chooses to love me. I know he desires what's best for me. I use those truths to build a structure around the relationship, so in those moments when I feel abandoned, unloved, and misunderstood, I can hold on to the truths that combat those feelings, and those truths in turn hold me in place.
Love isn't just a feeling - though it is one of the most divine feelings in all the world - Love is a choice. A choice to build a structure of truth. A choice to honor, respect, and remain when feelings fade. It's a daily choice to pursue, believe, and hope in someone else. It's not easy, but man is it worth it.