This love thing. I’m still trying to figure it out.
I thought I knew it when I loved my first pet more than I thought possible. I thought I knew it when I felt loving feelings toward old boyfriends who did nice things for me. I thought I felt it when I said yes to Ben’s marriage proposal, strung out on a high of emotions that I thought were genuine love.
But now this. Five years after our first Valentine’s day together: we’ve started three businesses, uprooted our lives from a city we loved, changed jobs, looked for jobs, bought a house, moved away from our closest friends and community, cried, fought, questioned God, had spontaneous dance parties to Blink-182 in our living room, uncovered new life/career callings, tickled each other, laughed till our sides hurt, traveled and fallen in love with each other and the One who brought us together even more. It’s a more gritty, real-life love that resurfaces and reshapes itself after we’ve had a fight or hurt each other.
I’m not sure how it works really but I know more now than before that love isn’t a feeling, or even a collection of feelings and experiences with someone else. It’s a choice. A choice to press on on a daily basis. To move forward and choose to wade through the occasional chaos and confusion that comes from sharing your life with someone else. To move toward reconciliation and a deeper place of understanding, friendship and love. I love Ben with all my heart but I don’t always like him. Like when I don’t get my way or he eats the last of the ice cream from the carton that I was holding out for (please tell me it’s not just me that’s annoyed by this habit?!?). Choosing to love Ben, and others, when I don’t like them is something I’m bad at but working on. Because God chose us and loves us unconditionally, all the time, without fail and without hesitation.
Of us, he says “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3) Even when, and while, we are opposed to God and his love for us he loves us and tries to draw us closer. He chooses to love us even when he can’t get anything out of us.
That’s how I want to love. And we love and know how to love because He first loved us. And He loves us well and chooses us over and over and over again…even when we don’t like Him and we turn our backs on Him. It’s a hard thing for me to accept but I know that out of that acceptance flows more abundant and genuine love for Ben and everyone else around me….not just on Valentine’s Day but on every day of the year.
I’ve heard someone I admire often say that we’re holding a dixie cup of God’s love for us and a whole ocean of it remains. This Valentine’s Day I’m reminded that I can and should love others well because I’m well loved. Not just by Ben, friends and family but by the creator of the universe…and his love knows no limits!
Be imitators of God and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us… Ephesians 5:2
For the JOY set before him (that’s us!) he endured the cross…and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God Hebrews 12:2
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater lover has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…” – Jesus in John 15:12
Header photo by Abby Grace Photography
Photos below by Annamarie Akins Photography