Saturday, March 2, 2013

On Love

A couple of months ago a friend posted this video, and after laughing my way through it, I followed the link at the end to It Starts at Home.  At the time, I was suffering through an incredibly busy and stressful holiday season with my business and was feeling the tug of being more intentional with my children.  After spending some time on the site, I ordered the book and have been making my way through it, albeit slowly.

In It Starts at Home by Kurt Bruner and Steve Stroope, they take on the challenge of nurturing our kids' faith at home and not relying solely on the Church and its programs to fill that role.  But more importantly, before they even mention parenting, they spend a significant section of the book on marriage and how a healthy marriage is imperative in helping nurture our kids' faith.  Though I can't possibly summarize that entire section, much of it was useful and biblically sound advice.  And while it's directed at marriage, I couldn't help but apply the following thought to all relationships:

Love is a commitment.  It is a commitment to first discover and then intentionally meet the legitimate needs of others.  Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to feel good about people. (see Philippians 2:3-4)
I wrestled with this thought for days, weeks.  For so long I had associated love with "warm fuzzies" and feeling good about the people I love (after all, I had grown up reading and watching fairy tales and happily ever after).  I condemned myself for not being able to easily love everyone, especially fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  And as I allowed this new definition of love to start to take root in my heart, I felt a burden lifted.  No longer did loving someone mean that I had to be his/her best friend.  No longer did I have to experience warm fuzzies in order to love.  (I'm certain warm fuzzies were the farthest thing from Christ's mind and emotions as he took our place on the cross and displayed the ultimate love for us.)  It simply means that because Christ has commanded me to love that I seek to know and meet the needs of others. Applying this framework of love beyond marriage, the following excerpt would read like this (parentheses mine): 
(Warm fuzzies) Romantic feelings are a wonderful, God-given part of (close relationships) dating and marriage.  But they are the effect, not the cause.  In a healthy (relationship) marriage we choose to love even when we don't feel very loving, often prompting loving feelings to follow.  In an unstable (relationship) marriage it works the other way around: We wait for loving feelings to inspire loving choices.  True, lasting love is more about conscious choices than chance encounters.  We commit ourselves to another human being and accept the dual responsibility of learning and meeting their needs.
Of course I still struggle with this.  Warm fuzzies are a wonderful effect of love, and it would be much easier to love others if a dose of warm fuzzies came with every act of love.  But not every act of love is greeted with open arms and sometimes we have to love simply because we've been commanded to do so. 

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