What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this word?
Romance? Emotions? Honeymoon? Funny feelings in your tummy?
Interestingly enough, I put this phrase into Google “first thing you think of when you hear LOVE,” and the first link to pop up for me was a Yahoo Answers link. On it were answers such as these – in no particular order:
Anger, pain and sadness
It’s an illusion
What IS it?
What was your first thought?
For the most part, we have allowed our society to dictate to us what LOVE is.
The first thing we must realize is that LOVE has no working definition. WHAT?!?! Try to define it and someone else will come up with another definition totally different than yours. Also, some of us define love based on our own experiences – whether positive or negative.
Some would define love as “hugging your children” while another might say what you feel on your wedding day. The two are VERY different emotions/feelings, but is that love?
Some may even define love as a sexual relationship or attraction.
Here is my answer to all of these. LOVE is not ANY of these things!
So, what is love? And cue song… “baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” (By Haddaway)
Great question! I’m glad you asked!
First let me describe what LOVE is not…
It is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. It is not sex. It is not getting what you want all the time.
LOVE is a behavior, an action, a decision, a commitment. Let me be more specific:
Love is a choice. You cannot fall IN to love.
Let’s say you are standing on the edge of a cliff and down below about 20 feet is a pool of water. You are contemplating jumping off into the cool water, but you hesitate. Finally you decide it is worth the risk and you make the decision to jump in.
NOW, imagine you are on that same cliff, looking at the same water. You trip and fall tumbling over the side into the cool water. What is your first reaction? Is it one of elation? Or are you unsure of what is happening and how it will end up? Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or will you wish you had not fallen in, and you claw your way out of the water?
Which do you have more control over? YES! The first one!
At least if you make the decision to jump in, you have some idea of what you are getting yourself into. You make the commitment and you jump, understanding there are some things you may not be aware of, like how cold the water is, but nonetheless, you go for it.
We choose who to love, when to love, where to love, and how to love.
The best example I can give to you is this – Jesus. I know, I know – there he goes again talking about Jesus. Well, get over it!
Jesus gave us the best example of LOVE in the face of a most certain painful situation that was imminent should he choose to go down that path to become the sacrifice for our sins.
He had the opportunity to walk away from what would become an extremely painful death. But He was driven by love. That’s right! Why would someone choose that kind of pain and torture for love? Because He realized that from that painful circumstance it would pave the way for us to have a relationship with God.
So what is LOVE?
Love is Patient. When you are faced with a situation where you just want someone to realize you are there for them – patience is an act of love.
Love is Kind. When you would rather respond in vengeance, you decide to show kindness.
Love does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. You make the choice to be content with what you have, to be thankful for others and to look at yourself with sober judgment.
Love is not rude. When your first reaction is to be sarcastic and snarky, you decide to lock up the lips.
Love is not self-seeking – on the flip side, this means you actually look out for the needs of others.
Love is not easily angered. Ouch, that one hurt a little didn’t it. It takes a decision to suppress the anger that rises so quickly to an unwelcome event or comment.
Love does not keep a record of wrongs. When you are in a disagreement, this is the decision to NOT bring up all of the past hurts or offenses the other person has done against you. It is a continual choice to forgive.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Have you ever heard gossip that you know is not true? This is when you decide to push away the lie and gossip and stand with the truth.
This is where we need to discuss the qualities of LOVE that should ALWAYS be present. If these qualities are NOT present, then it is not love!
Love ALWAYS protects.
Love ALWAYS trusts.
Love ALWAYS hopes.
Love ALWAYS perseveres.
If you love someone, you choose to protect them, choose to trust them, choose to hope for the best, and choose to persevere through the difficult challenges.
If we put all of these into effect, than we can always count on LOVE, it will not fail us. Now how many of these are dependent on the recipient of your love?
If you answered none of them, you would be correct! Just as much as you decide to show these qualities, others must also decide to show them toward you. However, you do not need them reciprocated in order to love someone.
This means we can choose to love a complete stranger and provide a need for them. We can choose to love someone that has been rude to us.
LOVE is a choice: a choice to be committed; a choice to place ourselves in a vulnerable position with someone else. When we look at it this way and not as if we are “falling in love” we recognize if we choose to love, we can choose not to love.
Emotions come and go. I WISH I could stay happy all the time, but inevitably something will happen where I will become sad.
LOVE does not have to be as unstable as our emotions. As a matter of fact, Jesus showed how stable it really is, by loving us before we ever accepted Him as the Son of God and the One that takes away our sins. He loved us while we were denying His existence. He loved us while we were living our lives for ourselves.
Maybe this is how we are to love others. With the example Christ gave us, we can love others.
Choose to love.
This is such a big topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Shoot me an idea of another aspect of love you might want to hear about.