Happy Monday everyone! Whether or not you liked the outcome of the Super Bowl yesterday, I hope that you had a beautiful weekend none-the-less and are looking forward to an awesome week ahead of you!
Well, it is already February! It really does seem like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year, but alas, we are well on our way through 2017. February is kind of weird, though, I am not going to lie. Many people out there have a love-hate relationship with this month. They love it because of Valentine’s Day (let’s be real…who doesn’t love love?), but to the same extent, many people dislike it strongly because of Valentine’s Day (let’s be real again, love can be complicated and messy). But today, we are going to dig around a little in this concept of love to see what we can find. In this world where love seems to be simultaneously a ride on the struggle bus and absolute paradise, what is this thing called love in the first place and how on earth can we develop healthy, lasting relationships with others?
Well, today I would like to propose to you that love is a choice and a healthy, lasting relationship can only be developed between two people who intentionally choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice.* What do I mean? Let’s break it down.
As many of you know I am happily married. This means that on November 14, 2015 I made a promise to my beloved husband that I would choose to love and to cherish him from that day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health as long as we both shall live. This promise I made I do not take lightly at all. It is a covenant that I made with my husband that I revisit and delight myself in each and every day, when I look at the beautiful wedding band on my ring finger.
Before we got married, though, we received a lot of advice. All of the advice was well-intended, but some of it was better than others. People said things like “Oh, you’re getting married already? Are you sure you are ready for that type of commitment?” or “Wow, marriage… It is can be hard, you know?” These things may be rooted in their own kernels of truth, but to be honest it was really discouraging to hear those things about such a beautiful part of life. I wondered what I was getting myself into and why everyone seemed to have this view of marriage – one that was negative and completely fickle. I wondered if my head was just in the clouds and I completely missed something. It really bugged me.
But in the midst of all of, there was something that really stood out to me from a book by C.S. Lewis. He talked about how marriage was more than just something to do because two people are “in love.” Sure “being in love” is vitally important to marriage but Lewis also said that “if [being in] love is the whole thing, then the promise [of marriage] can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made.”* He goes on to say that marriage is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature – lovers know this better than anyone. Those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Marriage, then, is demanding that lovers take seriously something which their own passions compel them to do. The promise of marriage, made when I am in love and because I am in love, commits me to upholding that promise, even when the fuzzy feelings of “being in love” fade through various struggles and seasons of life.
“Being in love” is absolutely glorious and in many ways is very good for us as human beings. It shows us how to serve one another, how to be courageous, how to see the beauty of our beloved and the world around us in new ways and how to be fully one with another person. Being in love is a very good thing, but Lewis also points out that it is not the best thing. There are things below it, but there are also things above it in life. We cannot make “being in love” the basis of our whole entire existence because at the end of the day, it is just a feeling. Believe it or not, feelings are fickle; they come and go.
My friends, ceasing to “be in love,” though, does not mean ceasing to love. This is a distinction that many people miss, and unfortunately it more often than not costs them their relationships. Love in this second sense is not a mere feeling. It is this deep unity that can only be maintained by the will, intentionally strengthened by habit and absolutely drenched in an abundance of grace. It is this love that Andy and I pursue for one another even at those brief moments when we don’t like each other or agree. “Being in love” with one another moved us to promise fidelity, but this quieter love enables us to keep that promise. It is on this type of love that the engine of our marriage is run: “being in love” was just the explosion that ignited it.**
I want to be the type of wife that when I say “I love you” to by beloved husband, there is nothing that can stop me. I want to continually pursue a love that is dependent on my choice to say “I do” and my responsibility to intentionally live out that decision day by day. On November 14th I chose to love my beloved and I will continue to choose to love him each and every day as long as we both shall live.
Let’s choose love.
* Concept borrowed from Danny Silk’s Keep Your Love On
**/*** Quote and concepts borrowed from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.