Photography: Sweet Memory Photography
It’s one of the most common phrases you can hear, right? Scroll through Instagram for 10 minutes and it’ll be in someone’s caption. It’s got me wondering how we actually do it, though – how we actually choose love every single day. Here are some quick thoughts.
Side note: this post is very spouse heavy because it’s our anniversary month and I’ve been super reflective and I promise it’ll end as soon as all of the thoughts are done swirling around my head. Anyway.
We all know that love is a choice, not a feeling. We also know that love conquers all. We know, and most of us truly believe, all of the cliche’ things about love. We live by them, actually – believer or nonbeliever. So why does love still feel so complicated? Why does it so often not feel like the obvious choice even though we know it’s the answer?
When I decided that the theme for the month was going to be love, I knew it would be challenging. It’s gotten me thinking about how I receive love, how I love my people, and how I can love everyone else I meet. I’ve also been thinking about certain characteristics about myself that make love sometimes challenging and sometimes really easy. Above everything else, the recurring theme and topic dominating my mind this month is how insane it is that God loves us each so differently and perfectly. There is no need, no desire, and no pain that cannot be met by His love. I truly cannot wrap my mind around it.
Loving people is so hard. People are frustrating and cruel and straight up annoying – I’m saying this as a total “people person,” too. We just are. We’re so dang unlovable sometimes. And yet we’re all equally loved by the Lord. To Him, it’s not complicated, but to us – with all of our sin and burdens and pride – it’s complicated.
Love never feels more complicated than with your spouse. This type of relationship can be the most powerful, most wonderful, and also most frustrating of them all. It takes about 24 hours of being married to figure this out. Like every married couple, we’ve had to learn how to love each other in the big and exciting moments, but also the mundane, day-to-day moments.
After two years, it’s still hard. Loving me means serving me – taking out the trash, putting the groceries away, building the lame boxes of furniture from IKEA. Loving me means sit-down conversations about finances, the future, and daydreaming about passions and big ideas. That’s not how Ryan likes to be loved though – he appreciates when I serve him in those ways, but that’s not his favorite way of being loved. Ryan wants to spend time together – good old fashioned quality time. He wants to experience something fun and exciting together. He wants to play and laugh and simply enjoy each other’s company. If we try to love each other with our own needs in mind then we end up doing more harm than good – which we have done plenty of times.
After (almost) 25 years, it’s still hard to love friends and community, too! It’s hard enough to make time for friends, let alone build those relationships into something intentional and purposeful. And goodness don’t we all know that it can be soo hard to love strangers. The strangers on the internet with the opinions, the sassy people in line at target, and politicians we don’t agree with, amen?
In moments when I don’t know how to best love Ryan, my community, or people across the world – the only solution is to choose God. That’s exactly what choosing love means – letting go of yourself and choosing God. It means choosing His perspective and not yours. It means choosing His glory and not yours. It means choosing service and selflessness in His name. It means losing time, money, and sleep in order to further His name. It means choosing grace and kindness a thousand times in a row. It means choosing forgiveness and letting go of revenge and self-righteousness.
Loving Ryan means loving the Lord. Loving my community group means loving the Lord. Loving the people in your schools, jobs, and grocery stores means loving the Lord. It’s not complicated – it’s selflessness. It’s not complicated – it’s our purpose. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s not complicated.
So if you’re struggling to show some love – take a breath and look to the Lord.
– Caitlin –