“Easy!” most of us say, clasping our collective hands to our collective bosoms and heaving a collective sentimental sigh. “It’s LOVE!”
Certainly, there has been no theme or topic more prominent in billions of songs throughout history, and billions of stories told or written.
But what IS love?
It’s amazing that even sensible people have a starry-eyed view of Love and relationships. We fall in love with this gorgeous, wonderful guy/chick, and we’re on cloud 9 for the next several months -- maybe. The feeling is so powerful and all-consuming we think (or we’d love to think) that it will never end. Nothing else matters. It makes us bounce out of bed every morning, and we can think of little else but when we can see our loved one again, or even just phone or text. It’s wonderful!
But then a few things happen -- disagreements, disappointments, discovering a few faults in our lover that marr the rosey image we had of them. So we don’t get the emotional high we first had. From there, it has a tendency to go two ways:
- We cool off completely, become disillusioned (“What was I thinking??”), and break off the relationship altogether. Sadly that’s happening so frequently these days, even after wedding vows have been made.
- We weigh up the pros and cons of a permanent relationship and decide that our partner is worth all the pain, expense, worry, inconvenience, disruption, removal from our comfort zone, annoyances etc. We are determined that the marriage will work no matter what happens, and no matter how we feel.
But note, approach #2 must be based on unselfish choices.
My own wife is characterised by these unselfish choices (and she’s had to make many of these, considering all I’ve dished out!) for which I am deeply thankful, and has been the major contributor to what I am convinced is a good marriage.
But there are times where we work on the romantic side as well. Are we a starry-eyed young couple? No, but I think we’ve discovered a greater love, which has opened our eyes to some wonderful things that our starry-eyed young couple can’t yet experience.
But if Marriage is defined as feelings-based romance, what happens when we quarrel, or find much we dislike in each other -- which inevitably happens even in the most wonderful relationships?
In those rocky periods of our marriage, are we then, by definition, NOT married??
Why bother making a formal commitment at all in that case?
But most people instinctively realize that we need that commitment before we can grow together, and experience a deeper, fuller and more satisfying life, that takes us beyond our own little world.
And I’m not knocking young-love-romance! I’ve been there a few times myself -- before I was married, of course. It’s one of those God-given things that make us human and unique.
It even reflects something of our relationship with God when we are first touched by His love.
The feeling is so powerful and all-consuming we think (or we’d love to think) that it will never end. Nothing else matters. It makes us bounce out of bed every morning, and we can think of little else but when we can get to church again, especially the worship service where we feeeeeel the power of God.
The bible comes alive! It’s wonderful! We are the Bride of Christ, so to speak.
Sadly, many of us look back nostalgically at that period as our “first love.”
We settle in to a good religious “marriage”, with the right disciplines and habits to “keep God happy”, and then wonder why we don’t feel satisfied after a while.
But as Karen said a few weeks back, we can return to that wonderful romance of our First Love. How?
Repentance! Making a choice! It's the first step anyway, and your loving God will do the rest.
(See Revelation 2:1-7)
No matter what Hollywood has tried to sell you, real Love is a choice, not a fleeting emotion. These will come, occasionally. But I’m convinced that they will come more frequently and with increasing intensity when we make more unselfish choices.
Have a look at all the references in the gospels where Jesus lays down this principle here.
Just imagine what Heaven will be like!