What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word love?
Most of us associate that word with an emotion that we feel toward someone. We can all quickly recall all the people in our lives that we love. Most of us will start with our spouses, children and grandchildren. I would like to submit to you that real love is not an emotion. The problem with emotions is they cannot be trusted. They go up and down. Love isn’t an emotion. Love is a choice. There are so many couples– young and old- getting divorced at an unprecedented rate because I believe they have believed that love is an emotion. If I don’t feel love, I can get out of the relationship.
When I stood on the stage in a Methodist Church 23 years ago and looked into the eyes of my wife, I felt an overwhelming amount of love for her. But I didn’t make the decision to marry her based on that emotion. I made a choice to love her for the rest of my life, no matter what happens. In those 23 years, there have been moments where I don’t feel exactly the same way I did when I stood before her on our wedding day. There are many days when she does not feel love toward me. In our everyday, day-to-day interactions, we may not feel love.
Love is a choice.
It’s easy to love those who love you back. It takes a choice to love the unlovable. When we bring kids into our home, they have a troubled, fragmented past and are often hard to love. They test our boundaries. They push the limits with their behavior. They attempt to bring one parent against the other, and they are frankly hard to love. I have come to learn that I must choose to love.
The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “We love because God first loved us.” We choose to love because God is love. The foundation of our Christian walk should be love. The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). It also says that He loved us, while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).
In this LOVE season, I want to encourage you to love like Jesus. To forgive those who have hurt you. To look at the ones God has placed in your life that are difficult to love and make a choice to love them wholeheartedly. I know you might not feel it, but often the feeling will come after the choosing. But even if they don’t. Emotions cannot be trusted. Make a CHOICE to love today!
-Stephen and Sandra Hogue