Those reading my most recent blogs will know that God has been teaching me things that I always thought I already knew and understood. It turns out that I didn’t know anything.
I’ve learned, in the last few months, about how to truly forgive (See blog, “No Apology Required”). I’ve learned how to train myself to not allow a past hurt to surface in my mind long enough to create unbearable emotion. That’s difficult to do because the brain remembers. It takes a conscious action of one’s mind to hand the hurt over to God, and therefore relieve one’s self. Jesus said that we are to forgive as many times as it takes (Matthew 18:21-35). He was telling us to train our minds so that we can do this more quickly. That explains why hurts become easier over time. The duration of that time becomes much shorter for those who adopt the practice of true forgiveness.
Love is a decision. It’s an action. It’s not solely an emotion. God decided to love a world full of people who hadn’t been born yet. He did this by offering His son as sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16). Jesus decided to love us enough to go through with it. That love is agape love; all encompassing.
My sister, who's been married for over 25 years, once said to me, “You have to wake up every day and decide to love your partner.” It’s taken me many years, and multiple relationships, to finally understand what my little sister was talking about.
Let’s face it, there are things about all of us that aren’t love-worthy. Choosing to love someone is deciding to accept everything in that person that doesn’t quite measure up in our minds as ideal. If you’re with them, you’ve already weighed the pros against the cons. And the pros have won out. So don’t focus on the cons. This is where forgiveness comes in.
Love and forgiveness are daily activities of choice. Of course, the commitment to love and forgive daily shortcomings must be adopted by both parties. If not, the couple is unequally yoked. The lyrics to an old Bonnie Raitt song, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t,” comes to my mind as sad but true.
The only way to love as Jesus loved is to DECIDE to do it. Once you’ve trained yourself to truly forgive, love through anything, and make every effort to minimize hurt to your partner, the true love emotion can take over. You must make the decision to act before you can receive the emotion. In doing so, you’ll soon discover that there’s a release to the point that your heart swells within your chest for your partner. That feeling is so incredibly good, and is so encompassing, that love becomes your emotion; your reward. So, if you say that you love someone, then decide to make love your emotion.