Love is a six letter word. And it's spelled C-H-O-I-C-E.
It is not a feeling that hits us like a crashing wave and then takes us back out to sea when the winds change. It is not something we fall into—and then out of. Even though the songs, movies, and cliches lead us to believe so.
Love is not passion, romance, or lust. It is more than just the highlight reel that we share on social media: the candlelit dinners, vacations, gifts, anniversaries, and other sweet memories. What may start as chemistry, eventually evolves into something much deeper. Better. Stronger.
Over time, the small choices we make turn our immature expectations into selfless acts. Greed makes room for giving. Communication improves as two people choose transparency instead of deception. They expose the truth, even if it’s painful. People-pleasing is left behind for a type of servanthood that can only be birthed over time.
It's hard work that does not happen overnight. It’s one choice at a time. One moment. One day. One season. One year.
Similarly, relationships do not fall apart in a day. They disintegrate in the same way they are built. One choice at a time. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but the simple choices slowly wear on the relationship when we:
- Omit the truth
- Stay quiet instead of sharing honestly
- Assume rather than ask
- Continually take and not give
- Live in fear instead of trusting
- Choose to be rude rather than respectful
These things come naturally. They fall into the “if it feels go, do it” mantra that celebrities and social media chant loudly. If it’s quick and easy, that’s what we’ll gravitate towards. Sadly, many people have the same regard for their marriage as they do their cell phone. It is something to upgrade, toss, or trade in when the newer and shinier version is available.
Marriage for many people is a word more likely to be paired with “endurance” than “vibrant.” And though they may have a long life, they are anything but thriving. They don’t end in divorce, and many couples will stay together for various reasons, but there is no effort made for the relationship to get stronger or sweeter.
It slowly loses steam. The couple stops trying. They give up. One decision at a time. But love isn’t something that happens. It is a choice. It requires effort. Sometimes monumental effort.
When we choose to love the other person in moments where they least deserve it, and when we least feel like offering it, God smiles. We are the most like Jesus when we extend grace, kindness, and love to others, just as He does.
It is something that we often have no problem accepting, but are challenged by our need to offer it to others. Sometimes we forget that though God covers us with endless forgiveness and grace, He offers the exact same things for those we are in relationship with.
At times we are faced with the decision to love those who aren’t loving towards us. In other seasons we must choose to love in the midst of a hurt or offense. It requires strength and humility that we do not possess on our own. It demands us to act in ways that that appear foolish against the world’s wisdom, but make God proud. In those moments, love is a most definitely a choice:
- Choosing to forgive when it’s easier to shame the other person
- Staying when it’s easier to walk out
- Asking for forgiveness
- Serving without expectations
- Listening when it’s easier to blame
- Preferring the other person
- Loving when it's easier to be bitter, resentful and proud
- Choosing love, because He first loved us
A Prayer for Your Marriage
Father, help me to choose love for my spouse today. I want to extend them the kindness and grace that you cover me with daily. Help me to see them as you do, to be kind even when it’s easier to be rude. Help me to forgive where there have been offenses even if it’s difficult. Help me to make the right choices, to love, to honor You in our marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: February 23, 2017