Like Whitesnake, I’ve asked that question. The warm fuzzy feeling, the racing heart, the excitement, was that love? Was that what I was feeling?
Another question also plagued me: was that all there was to love? The thought terrified me. If those feelings were the only way I knew I was in love, what about the times when I didn’t feel that way? Did that mean I didn’t love Brittany?
So I searched for the answer…
And found it.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
I discovered love isn’t just a feeling. It is actions; it is choices. I discovered that if I claim to love Brittany, I am forced to ask one question in every situation.
“What does love require of me?”
1. Love requires that I be patient
If Brittany is having a bad day and being irrational, I must be patient and remain calm.
2. Love requires that I be kind
If Brittany says something harsh to me, I must respond with kindness, instead of anger.
3. Love requires that I do not envy
When Brittany and I were doing long distance, it meant that I shouldn’t be jealous of the time others got to spend with her.
4. Love requires that I do not boast
The act of boasting is putting oneself above others; declaring one is better than someone else. I am not to put myself above Brittany in any way.
5. Love requires that I not be proud
I must not put my pride in being right above meeting Brittany’s needs.
6. Love requires that I do not dishonour others
When I’m out with “the guys” and they start complaining about their wives, I must not join in and complain about any of Brittany’s faults.
7. Love requires that I am not self seeking
I must not love Brittany for what I can get from her, but for what I can give her. Though I am the head of our household, God calls me to be a servant leader in the same way that Jesus is. Everything I do must be for Brittany’s best.
8. Love requires that I am not easily angered
As a guy, when my emotions get too much, I get angry. I must strive to remain calm and to not let my frustration with being confused and overwhelmed dictate how I treat Brittany.
9. Love requires that I keep no records of wrong
I cannot keep a list of things Brittany has done wrong in the past, and whatever happens, they can never be used to hold over her.
10. Love requires that I do not delight in evil but rejoice in truth
No matter how hard it might be, I must always be honest with Brittany. No matter how painful it is, or how much it might hurt our relationship at the time, truth is more beneficial in the long run.
11. Love requires that I always protect
I must always look out for Brittany’s physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Everything I do, everything I say, must be done with that in mind.
12. Love requires that I always trust
Whatever Brittany tells me I must choose to trust is the truth – no matter the circumstances, no matter what others may have told me.
13. Love requires that I always hope
No matter what happens in our marriage, I must always hope for the best. Which I’ll admit is hard for this ol’ pessimist here.
14. Love requires that I always persevere
No matter the struggles Brittany and I have faced, and will face in our marriage, I made a vow to always love her, for better or worse. In the wise words of Rick Astley: “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you.”
15. Love never fails
Because love is choices and actions, you cannot “fall out” of love, only choose to stop loving. It may become harder to want to love; the warm fuzzy feelings of a new romance fade with time. But the love only stops if you make the choice to stop loving.
Is it easy to love? Goodness no! To love unconditionally and consistently is pretty much the hardest thing a human can do. In fact, it’s impossible to do on our own.
Who you gonna call?
The only way I’ve had half a hope of loving Brittany as I should is with the help of a God who is love.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
It’s still hard. There will be times when the very last thing you want to do is to love. It is in those moments that we are faced with the choice to love or not; to ask for the help of the One who is and who created Love, or to rely on our own efforts.
Personally? I take the “easy” route and ask for God’s help.
By the way, I am talking in general principles here. If the reason you’re questioning whether to love someone is because they’re abusing you either physically or emotionally, I am not saying stay in danger. Seeking help would be a good first step. Sometimes the way to love someone the most is to make them accountable for their actions.
Photo thanks to the wonderful Miranda Coralyn Photography