By Ashley McIlwain
I love you.
Those are perhaps three of the most powerful words we can ever speak to someone, and they are perhaps three of the most powerful words that can ever be spoken to us.
We all long to be loved. We were created to be in relationship and experience the richness of true love (Genesis 2:18). A pure, holy, untainted, selfless love that endures, pursues, forgives, and knows. A love that is undeserved and unearned. A love freely given and wholeheartedly pursued. A love treasured and nurtured. A love that is rare and beautiful.
True love is a concept often misunderstood and incorrectly portrayed. We’ve lost sight of what the heart of true love is, and what its sincere essence is composed of. Instead of guarding it and protecting it, we’ve allowed it to be dragged through the mud and slime of our worldliness and sinfulness. We twist and contort it into something cheap and tarnished rather than nurturing and shielding it because of its invaluable worth.
Love isn’t a lustful pursuit of satiating an insatiable physical desire. It’s not some tawdry declaration that has no depth or commitment. It’s not a feeling that we so easily succumb to and just as quickly fall out of. It’s not a euphoric high that we chase after. We are not helpless in its arrival nor its departure. It’s not a fantasy land, and it’s not a façade.
That’s what we’ve come to make of love and believe of it, but that’s not love. That’s lust and emotions. Love is so much more that we give it credit for, and we are much more responsible for it than we want to acknowledge.
Love is a choice. In fact it’s a million choices.
When we utter those three words, “I love you,” we are making a declaration, a commitment, and a choice. We aren’t stating a temporary emotional state much like we say, “I am happy.” No, we are saying, I am choosing you, and I will continue to choose you.
In marriage, we often equate love as something that we receive rather than what we give. When we don’t feel loved or don’t feel like loving, we stop choosing our spouse, our marriage, and to love. Choices precede emotions. When we choose to love our spouse, we lead our heart, and the feelings follow that lead. Most say follow your heart, but I say lead it.
Your love for your spouse is independent of your feelings or even of whether or not they are reciprocated. Love isn’t about receiving; it’s about giving (1 Corinthians 13:5, Matthew 5:43-48). It’s wonderful and delightful when our love is appreciated and repaid, but that’s not a requirement for our love offering, especially within the context of marriage. That’s not an excuse to be abused or allow ourselves to merely be a doormat, but it is a call to end our selfish nature.
Love is a sacred thing. It’s intentional, sacrificial, and selfless. As we strive toward sincere, true love, there is but one example. That example is Jesus Christ. He demonstrated perfect love to us, and it’s that precedent that guides our own efforts to love in a way that reflects and honors Him.
A love that seeks the good of our spouse over the good of ourselves is a gift. It’s a love that stands the test of time and illuminates the world we live in like a lighthouse shining brightly over a dark sea. It’s what “together forever” is made of.
A Prayer for Love
Lord, may you fill our hearts with your love. It is Your perfect love that we strive to embody and demonstrate to our spouse, family, and world. Guide and direct us in how to do that. Soften our hearts and words that we may minister healing and grace to our husband/wife. Instill within our very soul the depths of Your love for us so that it may overflow into our marriage. Help us to love when we don’t feel like it, and give us the courage and strength to remain faithful and steadfast in our commitment to You and to our spouse. Amen.
About today’s giveaway …
Several months ago, I discovered Karen Stott’s shop, Intentional Home, and fell in love. Her creations are, well, creative. What I love the most though is that her creations are intentional: a word that I always pray embodies the essence of how I love my husband. Intentionality is so vital to a healthy, thriving marriage, which is why I appreciate how Karen’s creations cultivate and encourage that concept.
Perhaps one of my favorite of all her creations is the All The Things I Love Journal. These journals create a sweet space to share 100 things you love about someone. What a perfectly idyllic and intentional way to not only remind yourself of all the things you love about your spouse but to convey those things to them in a treasured keepsake they can look back on over and over again.
Lucky for you, we are giving away 3 of these incredible journals today! See the terms below for how you can get entered to win!
THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED!!! Congratulations to our 3 winners … Lauren, Megan, and Mere!!!
PLEASE READ INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY to ensure eligibility!
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