At some point we come to the realization that our relationships aren’t working out how we wanted them to. Sometimes we end up thinking or expecting that relationships are less than what we originally thought. We get hurt, we get heartbroken, our expectations were too high, we lower them, we settle. But this is a challenge to go the other way. This is a challenge to set love on a higher shelf. It took me eighteen years to realize that my relationships with others could be more than what they were and several years later, I’m still trying to hash it all out.
We don’t have to wait until we’re eighteen to have great fulfilling relationships. We don’t have to suffer through unnecessary heartache and heartbreak and depression and life shattering breakups. We will. Chances are you’ll be hurt along the way, even if you follow all the “right” advice. But it’s good to learn from our mistakes and it’s even better to learn from the mistakes of other people so that you don’t have to experience them for yourself. I hope you’ll learn from mine.
Perhaps my first mistake was my definition of love. It wasn’t completely my fault. I was young. And I grew up in this world and therefore was bombarded by the messages that this world blasts us with.
I thought love was a feeling. An unstoppable, unquenchable, untamable feeling that consumed me. I mean, don’t get me wrong… I loved quesadillas and Bernese Mountain Dogs and finding lost treasures in the woods and video games. But I thought romantic love was something that haunted my soul and my mind (in a wonderful way) and that I had to follow my impulses and that the best pursuit in life was the pursuit of my heart’s desires.
For part of my job these days, I give counsel to couples who are going to be married. One of my favorite things to ask them is, “How do you define love?” They write it down. I save it.
Here’s a response from the last couple I asked. They were both over the age of 25. And they were both wrong. And they were both about to get married.
Woman: “Unconditional, good feeling, with no limitations, best feeling in the world.”
Man: “Love is the feeling that you would do anything for that person, always compromise, and be compassionate.”
It’s true in movies, and fairy tales, and tv shows. This mysterious force called love acts on us. Two individuals respond correctly by following their hearts and they live happily ever after.
But not in real life. Feelings are fleeting. Emotions change. One of my professors once said something about how the body can't sustain the production of hormones and chemicals that it takes to always feel "infatuated" for more than a year. I don't know how true or false this is. But nonetheless... we can't depend on our emotions.
Jesus Christ. He told people to love their enemies. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Why does God cause his sun to rise on the evil and the good? Because he loves them. Because the sunrise enables us to see and live and be productive.
Why does God send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous? Because he loves them. Because the rain enables us to grow crops and eat and live and be productive.
And Christ believes that we can choose to love as God loves.
As a matter of fact he commands it,
If love is an emotion…I can't be commanded to love. I cannot feel constant love for my wife forever. We can’t love anyone forever. If love is an emotion, we have no right to say, “I’ll always love you.” And when we believe that love is an emotion and claim that we’ll always love someone then not only are we lying but we’re setting us and our loved ones up for devastating heartbreak.
Love is a choice. I can be commanded to love. I can constantly choose to love my wife. We can choose to love our neighbors and our enemies. When love is a choice we are finally able to say, “I’ll always love you.” And when we believe that love is a choice we need to be extremely careful about who we say, “I’ll always love you” to.
God has chosen to love us. Because he chose to make us in his image. And because of that, he’ll always love us. And He desires for us to love as He loves.
About the Author: My name is Andrew. I'm a pastor of a medium sized church of about 200. I love relationships and love and most of all I love God. I started blogging because I want to help protect people from causing or feeling unnecessary pain. Let me know what you think! You can find me on the web at http://lovevsmodernromance.blogspot.com/