Love is a choice. Were you aware of this? I've been thinking about this a lot, especially with the Meetings, Marriages, and Memories carnival at Musings of a Future Pastor’s Wife that's been running on Mondays. If you want to read the beginning of my love story, you can click here.
It's fun to remember how things began, but it also reminds me of how little teenagers and young adults know about true love. Think back. Can you remember the pounding heart? The weak-in-the-knees feeling whenever he looked in your direction? The way he filled your every waking thought and a good many of your dreams? The minutes in his presence flew by and the second he was out of your sight, you were counting the minutes until you were together again. It's all so incredibly romantic, isn't it? Except for one thing. None of those feelings are true love.
Now don't write me off as cynical. I believe in love. I have experienced it. But love is not just an emotion. It is a decision. The feelings, the tingling, the emotion--that's all great stuff. But you can't build a relationship on it. Not one that will last a lifetime. I have a confession to make. When my husband and I hold hands, I don't get the same breathless tingle I used to. Don't get me wrong. I still thrill to his touch and I enjoy being with him. But the intensity of holding hands is not the same. However, my love for him is deeper and stronger than it ever could have been twenty-three years ago.
See, this is the thing that teenagers can't seem to understand. And that's one reason why teenage relationships can be so dangerous. They fall in and out of "love" with someone new every couple of weeks. They seem to move on after the thrill is gone. Or they are tempted to go further and further in their physical relationship in order to maintain or intensify the thrill they felt in the beginning of the relationship. The emotions are going to be there; however, the emotions shouldn't be the ruling factor. Christians especially should not be governed by their emotions. But so often the emotions rule the teen instead of the other way around.
You see, love is a choice. Yes, there's chemistry and yes there's feelings and emotions. But somewhere along the line those in a marriage relationship made a decision. They made a choice (and then a vow) to love someone for the rest of their lives. Tell me, if falling in love is something you can't help, then why do you need to vow to maintain that love?
Love is not just the tingling feelings and the roses and picking out flowers and filling in a bridal registry. Love is a decision to be made even if the tingling stops and long after everything on the registry has broken or faded. When you enter into a marriage, you are making a decision and a vow to love that person as long as you live. That means every day of your life you wake up in the morning and make a decision to love the person you're waking up with. Somedays it's an unconscious decision. You wake up overwhelmed with love and grateful that this person has chosen to spend his life with you. Other days you wake up, trip over the shoes he left in the middle of the floor, see where he forgot to flush the toilet and then you consciously choose to love him anyway.
It's so important to follow the Lord's leading when it comes to choosing a mate. And it's one of the most important things you can teach your children. While they still think the opposite sex has "cooties", teach them that love is a choice. Teach them that they should not be ruled by their emotions. Teach them to ask the Lord for His guidance in every area of their lives. Then when it comes time to choose their mate, the wonderful tingling is just an added blessing--not the basis for a lifelong decision.