Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What is Love? {Four Principles to Make Love a Reality}

What is Love?

I often say, “I love you” to my husband. Sometimes it’s to remind him that I love him, other times it’s to remind myself… but what is love? What does it look like? 

Having just celebrated Valentine’s Day here in America, love currently looks a lot like gifts, chocolates, and flowers. My Facebook news feed was full of status updates of wives bragging on their husbands Valentine’s accomplishments, myself included. Because we all want to feel loved, appreciated, and cherished. But when the candy aisle changes from red hearts to cream filled eggs, what does love look like then? 

Anyone who has been married for longer than a month knows love can be challenging, to say the least. My husband and I are getting ready to celebrate nine years of marriage. Living life together (with four boys) for almost a decade as provided several opportunities to rethink my expectations of what “being in love” looks like. It’s difficult, it’s messy, but it is beautiful and completely worth the effort.

My quest for the truth about love has led me back to the book that illustrates the greatest love story every told; The Bible. The world love is mentioned over 300 times throughout the book. God designed us for love, for relationship with Him. He is more than the author and creator of love, He IS love. His word says: No greater love has one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV) The sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross for us was the ultimate act of Love. So what does that mean for us? Obviously giving up our physical life is not a something most of us will be called to do for our spouse. But I am learning the many ways we can apply this great act of love in our daily lives. Here are a few I’m practicing:

Believe the best in each other: in the moments when it is easy to slip into the patters of recounting past sins and placing blame, choose love instead. Believe the best in your spouse, remind yourself and each other that you are on the same side and more than likely your goals are the same, even if your methods are different. 

Listen well: respond instead of react, when your spouse is being grumpy, listen well. Is it fatigue, frustration, or fear driving the attitude?  Offer a listening ear, not an unwelcome solution, just a sounding board. This is a tough one for me, I like to fix things…  

Embrace your differences: Remember just because it’s different doesn’t mean its wrong! One of the greatest moments of self sacrifice can come by laying down your way and trying something new. For us this can be as simple as the way we load the dishwasher, or don't re-do what’s already been done. 

Trust in your True Identity: This is by far the most challenging for me, especially during this season of my life. My identity can get lost in piles of dirty laundry and sleepless nights. Trying to force my husband to fill a God sized gap is not only unfair, it’s a trap the enemy puts in our way to ensnare us in unhappiness. When I believe in me, in who I am, who I’ve always been, before the SAHM label, before the wife title, I can be free from fear. The fear of rejection that causes defensiveness. The fear of failure that causes overwork and exhaustion. These fears and so many others are the opposite of love. Fear is at work against us because he is at work against Love. Our choice to trust in our identity is the best way to fulfill all the other acts of love. We are children of God, created in His image to do good works, loved with an everlasting love, called, chosen, redeemed, restored, beautiful, cherished. Nothing can separate us from this identity and this love. (Romans 8:31-39) When we believe this truth then sacrificial love comes easily. 

So what is love? Love is believing the best in each other. Listening with open hearts and closed mouths. Love is embracing each other’s differences. Love is walking in your true identity and not expecting your spouse to be your God, but offering your heart with confidence because even if you get hurt, it will never change who you are, a child of the King. 

Here are a few of my favorite resources on love and marriage... The BibleLoving On PurposeThe 5 Love LanguagesThe Meaning of Marriage 

If you have any question or want to discuss the topics further please feel free to contact me. If you've never experience this Love I'm talking about, the love only God can give you, don't hesitate to reach out and ask some questions. It's never to late to let Love in!

Until Next Time, Choose Love!

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