What is Love?!?!
Isn’t that a wonderfully difficult question to define! What is love. What a question! We as humans are drawn to love. We are drawn to want it, to share it, to see it, to experience love. You see this in our advertising, our movies, our media, and our conversations. We are drawn to love and be loved!
How do you define what is and what is not love? As a Christian, in the therapy profession, I very naturally go to the Bible for this answer. The Bible is full of examples, traits and reminders about the importance of love. Most commonly we go to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. Here we get real world examples of what love is and is not. These examples include that love IS patient, kind and truthful. Love protects, trusts, hopes and preservers. Love IS NOT envious, boastful, rude, self-seeking, easy to anger, or keeps a tally system of your wrongs. God talks about love as “the greatest” and “the most excellent way.” We are told to “follow the ways of love.”
So we see here from this Biblical definition that love is an action. An action we should pay attention to. After all if God calls it “the greatest” and says “above all else put on” love, we are wise to follow God’s behavioral design on how to love and how to safeguard ourselves and others from “falling out” of love. I am just as human as the next person! I have gotten better at it, and continue to work hard at being purposeful in my decision making around my emotions, but of course at times I utterly fail to act in a loving manner. I bet you do too. I can be rude and selfish. At times, I put a less than positive spin on my husband’s intentions. You better believe that I need to make conscious choice around being patient and kind and that sometimes I fail. If we are honest with ourselves, truly honest, we all have to admit to these things.
At an early morning breakfast meeting this week with an area pastor he shared with me a powerful example of love being an action. He explained, “The importance of love as an action is so incredible! I know this first hand because there was a time that my wife and I were faced with some incredibly hard decisions. We did not love each other, in fact, we could hardly stand to be with one another. Each day was a struggle for our marriage. We found ourselves sitting across the table from the other and discussing ‘our future.’ What are we going to do? We cannot go on like this. The emotion of love we gone, I thought completely! That day I decided to use God’s design and started to act love out. It was very simple at first. I made her coffee every morning and brought it to her in bed. Now we are closer than I ever knew possible, we are strong. Yes! The emotion of love followed the actions of love.”
What a powerful history. When we follow God’s design and use the actions of love, it is possible to once again feel love with our spouse who we now feel so estranged to. There is hope and healing for yours or any marriage. Remember, the “cord of three strands?” If I do not want my marriage to be easily broken, then I must apply this simple principle. In applying this, it means that I will always be the minority vote. I will always need to be humble and curious about what my spouse is saying and why he feels strongly about something. Then also pay attention to, and do, what the Biblical model has laid out. What does God say about the matter?
This Valentine’s month, I challenge you to be humble and curious with your spouse. The next time you find yourself, or notice your spouse, thinking or acting in emotionally detached ways, take the risk to do opposite of your emotions. Do what is honorable and act in a loving manner, despite their actions and your initial thoughts. Challenge your unloving thoughts and feelings by offering yourself something greater to focus on. Focus on the service of love! Every day, small, positive, loving actions fill your personal bank account and makes deposits into the relational bank account. We all have trials in our relationships. If you have been making consistent deposits, your relationship can handle the harder times (these make withdrawals from the personal and relational bank accounts).
If you are feeling stuck or simply want some support or a guide on your journey, don’t be afraid to make the call. No issue is too small or too big to overcome with a bit of help!