Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Choosing to Love

Love has been really dragged through the mud in our modern age.  It is bent, twisted, morphed, manipulated and downright abused by a myriad of ever sifting opinions and attitudes.  Just listen to the music on the radio and what they have to say about love.  Or watch a movie or TV.  What is love all about in those arenas?  Feelings.

Don't get me wrong.  "Feeling" in love is just dandy.  There is nothing wrong about getting butterflies when you see "that" person.   But that is not "love", that is attraction.  You may contend that "attraction" is a prerequisite to love, but I disagree...mostly. 

We live in a time where we have the greatest access to luxuries and comfort.  Medicines and food.  Yet, depression and suicides are becoming an ever increasing problem.  What are we so depressed about?  I would contend that it is loneliness.  At the end of the day, we can't face our problems and our hurts, because we feel like we face them alone.

Why do we feel so alone? 

Because we have come to believe that our value and worthiness to experience love is based upon things we have to do to create that feeling in others.

I have to be pretty/handsome enough.

I have to be smart enough.

I have to be rich enough.

I have to wear the right clothes, see the right movies, drive the right car.

And we never feel like we measure up.  When we don't measure up to these arbitrary standards we feel unlovable.  We have accepted the idea that love is a feeling that we create in other people based upon things about ourselves that are deemed lovable.  When we can't engender those feelings in others, or, they stop feeling that way about us, we decide there is something irredeemably broken about us.

When love becomes an emotion driven feeling we will all become victims of experiencing people not feeling that way about us.  So what do we do?  For many people, it is jumping from experience to experience, or, relationship to relationship, to rekindle those high heady days of first attraction so that we can feel what we think is love again.  Because then we will be ok.  But, eventually, it too wears off, and we are left feeling just as bad and lonely as we did before.

Love CAN manifest itself in emotional feelings, but emotional feelings do not manifest in love.  Love, the kind of love we desperately seek and are made for, is an act of the will.  To choose to sacrifice your selfishness for the good of the person you have chosen to love.  And, as we continually discipline ourselves to that practice, we will find our emotions becoming realigned to reflect the reality of our behaviors. 

Our example and our hope is from the author of our very selves.  When God talks about love, he isn't talking about warm feelings he has for us, he is talking about the choice he has made to love us.  In Ephesians 1:14 we are told "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes."  It doesn't say, we were pretty enough, or moral enough, or smart enough.  It says he chose us.

In Malachi we hear Israel asking God if he really loves them.  He doesn't write them some flowery poem detailing how pretty their eyes are and how his heart goes pitter patter when he sees them, he says, Of Course I love you, I chose you to be mine. 

Love is a choice we make.  An act of the will to love a person, not because of something they earn in our eyes(because that means they can also lose it), but because we have decided to commit to that choice. 

Do you want to be loved by someone who will love you as long as you are a certain way?  Or, do you want to be loved by someone who will choose to treat you selflessly in love regardless of your flaws, mistakes, and failures?  If we only seek love rooted in emotion, it will always fall apart eventually. 

That is the beauty of God's love for us, the love we are called to live in accordance to.  We are not under some obligation to earn it, or, to continue to earn it.  We are simply invited to experience being loved.

Ask yourself if in the relationships in your life(spouse, kids, friends, family) do you love like God loves, or do you love out of selfish desires of what you can get from that person. 

We want selfless love for ourselves, but don't often give it to others....

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