What is Love?

So I was reading 1 Cor. 13 this morning and it got me thinking about our understanding of love. As a Christian I know that love is an action and that it is a choice that we make. The feeling that is associated with love is not love but a natural reaction to being loved.

But do I live like that is what I believe? I remember when my wife and I were dating and she wanted us to write down 100 reasons that we loved each other. I remember at the time I hated it but I couldn’t put in to words why. Now I understand though.

When we asked each other “Why do you love me?” What we were really asking was “How do you recognize the love I show you?” Because the truth is we don’t need a reason to love. Jesus was imprisoned, beaten, kept awake, beaten some more, and finally crucified on a roman cross and he still loved those who were doing it. Why? Because he chose to. It had nothing to do with them and everything to do with HIM!

So when we, in our naivety, were asking for reasons we should have realized we didn’t need any. Love is a concious decision that a person makes to value another person. The question we should have asked was “How can I love you?”

Soul Mates?

This got me thinking about a terrible misconception that has even stymied other Christians: Soul Mates? Short answer there is no such thing. The idea that each person has a single other person that they are meant to be with is utterly absurd. Not only is it a smack in the face of free will, but it sows seeds of doubt in every relationship: “What if I’m not meant to be with this person?”, “What if this other person is actually my soul mate?”, etc.

The fact of the matter is we choose who to love! When we realize this it is incredibly empowering. That means that if you choose to love someone then that should be the end of the discussion. Nothing can keep you from acting on that love, from prioritizing their needs above others, even your own.

I remember my wife once asked me (back before we were married) what I would do if we broke up. I remember I told her I would love her as much as she would let me - even from a distance if necessary. Because love is wanting the best for someone and acting in accordance with that wish. So if someone you love decides they don’t love you and is happy in another relationship - don’t let your heart turn to bitterness. If you truly love them you should be happy for them, otherwise it wasn’t love, but your emotional reaction to their love.

So may you choose to love - not to simply react, but to actively choose! If you are searching for “fireworks” or that feeling of love that people often talk about - stop. That feeling is only the body’s natural reaction to being loved and has no bearing on your CHOICE!

What about personal preference?

Well that is a good point. Some people have quirks about them that can be positive or negative. “She snorts when she laughs”, or “He has this weird wart on his cheek”. But those are truly ancillary. A prime example is my wife’s sneeze. She often says “bah-duh” after every sneeze. I have always found it endearing because it is an identifying quirk. Others may find something like that annoying - but that to is a choice. If you choose to focus on the negative aspects of a person they will continue to be negative, but if you choose to overlook them then, over time, they will lose their negativity. My wife and I have been married for fifteen years and it hasn’t always been easy, but one thing that has always remained is the fact that we never let the little things drive us away. My dad had a saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember it’s all small stuff!” That couldn’t be truer.

Jesus said Mark 7:15 - “there is nothing outside a person that by going into them is able to defile them. But the things that come out of the person are the things that defile that person.” This means that no matter what someone does to you or how they may treat you there is nothing that can corrupt your heart except how you treat them. That is a concious choice that you make. One of my wife’s favorite sayings: 1 Cor. 13:8a “Love Never Fails!” This is the culmination of everything into a glorious new life - because if you always show love YOU will be the one to feel it in the end.