Choose To Love

It was a unexpected conversation with a friend. We both wanted make the world a better place and ensure we are living up to God’s desires for our lives, but we weren’t really sure if we were doing it.  We talked about all the signs we had seen, our spiritual gifts. the need we felt to serve others, and the calling on our hearts. The best way I can explain it is that we each felt called to make the world better, to be better, and to do better.  But we had absolutely no idea what that was. For me, it was exciting and strange at the same time – especially since I had no clue what we were supposed to be doing to acheive this goal. For my friend, it was just weird. And different. And strange. And that led us to an interesting conversation with two simple questions.

Is love a feeling or a decision?

The bottom line was that we knew if God placed the same feeling on our hearts, then the very least we could do is explore them and carry out His wishes. Especially since it led to the conversation where we discovered we both had the same bit of confusion about love. And for the record, we are not talking about hearts, roses, and candies that are associated with Valentine’s Day. We are talking about unconditional, agape love. The kind we are commanded to have in hearts. Yes, commanded.

And as thought-provoking, Jesus-related, following God’s will discussions go, eventually we started talking scriptures and all things related to God’s glory in our friendship. Which is definitely worth sharing here because one of the most important things we can have in our lives are good friendships. You know, because friends are important.

Simply put, agape love…Jesus love..unconditional love is a decision we make to wholeheartedly make someone’s life’s easier. A decision to speak up, to change things, to impact the world — sometimes on behalf of someone else.

That sounds great Toni, but how would I ever do that? Keep reading friends.

 

 

 

 

For a lot of people I know, The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman are either fiercely loved or fiercely hated. For me, it has served as a reminder of my failed marriage and my selfish ways. When I’ve been courting a new “beau,” it’s been awesome because I want to learn more about the things that make him tick. And now that I’m in a place with my love life under the umbrella of Jesus, it makes things even more interesting. One thing is for sure, the Five Love Languages have an important place in my life…now as an app on my phone.

 

 

Last year, I gave a talk to a group of college students about leadership. In that talk I mentioned the value of authenticity and love in our lives. I implored to the students that sometimes, myself included, we want the world to think we have awesome, meaningful, mutually-beneficial relationships in our lives that we spend endless time posting about them on social media instead of actually taking the time to ensure we have awesome, meaningful, and mutually-beneficial relationships.

Developing, maintaining, and sustaining these kind of relationships takes work. They take time. They take commitment. They take the choice to love.  And you know what? They also take a willingess to establish boundaries for giving and receiving that love, which above all else, should reflect the glory of God.

As the official app of The Five Love Languages, Love Nudge can help you love others. You can can use it for your friends, you family, and your significant other. While it is built for romantically-involved couples, it works if you use it alone as well. You can learn more about LoveNudge.app and download it to be entered to win Dr. Gary Chapman’s #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages®, The 5 Love Languages® for Men, AND The Love Languages Devotional Bible (hardback)! Go to https://www.blessedfreebies.com/lovenudge.html to enter and for more details.

Of course, after I took the quiz and used that app a little bit, I came to a few conclusions of my own about love.

  • A life based in love has its own set of values specifically related to love.  I use Galatians 5:22 as my guide and I make sure that I try to speak love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness to those I love. I would venture to say that using that verse has actually improved a lot of other relationships in my life as well. And not included in this verse, but definitely an important factor, is my need to extend and accept grace when other people extend it to me.
  • Love requires laughter without judgement. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with people in my love circles that start with, “Okay, I need to have a moment of total transparency without being judged,” and end with roars of laughter.
  • We have nothing to loose and everything to gain by being open, honest, and transparent. First with God (because doesn’t He already know?), then with ourselves (the truth is often different from the stories we tell ourselves), and then with others. #Pinocchiodoesn’tlivehere.
  • Prayer is a priority. My prayer partner and I pray for each other and our families daily. We’ve even been known to text or call in the middle of the workday with an issue on our hearts or just to get a quick prayer in. We’ll also organize some mutual friends as additional prayer warriors on specific issues. But after we do that, we pray for our friends, our families, our communities, and the world we live in. Daily. Not just when there’s a hurricane, or an earthquake, or famine.
  • Love builds on similarities and embraces differences. If you stop and take a look at the people around you, you’ll find that as humans we have more similarities than differences. As an only child, that realization makes me uncomfortable sometimes. BUT, this makes it easy to understand communication styles and start to love. And for the few differences we do have, well…#grace.
  • Our love circles gives us hope for a better future and a better world for our children. To be perfectly honest, like so many parents, I am terrified for our children and all of the chaos of the world we live in. Added to the fact is that I already think I’ve doomed my kids to a life of unhealthy relationships because of #divorce.  In Romans 5:5 it is written “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Simply put, living in love gives us hope that we need. And that’s important.
  • Love serves. One of my favorite and most radical sayings is that I do not believe in random acts of kindness. It a nutshell, I believe that all kindness should be intentional, not random. I also believe in doing all that I can for the people in my love circles without expecting anything in return. Is it hard? YES. Do I sometimes fail? YES. Do I get frustrated because there’s just not enough demonstration of love in the world? YES. Do I ever feel selfish when I think about serving? YES. But even still, I continue to serve. Those I serve include my family, my friends, my church, and my students. I serve them all in different ways, but the most important thing is that I try to my best to serve them the way they need to be served.
  • Tradition is important. Very important. I’ve mentioned my friend Cathy and her fabulous Thanksgiving dinners on the blog before. Simply put, she LOVES Thanksgiving. She does it big y’all. Her tradition for creating special memories around gratitude is ah-mazing. When you live in love, you create traditions in love. Those traditions create memories. Memories made in love make the world a better place.
  • The small things are located right at the heart of love. As much as we love the glitz, glamour, grandeur and occassional pomp and circumstance of life, it’s the little things that drive our days. Our morning routines, our traffic woes, and our weekly trips to the grocery store are what this life is made of. My parents and I have a standing phone appointment every night at 8:00 pm. When we miss it, we try to let each other know in advance and if we can’t,  we make up for it as soon as possible. Others in my love circles know this, support it, and hold me accountable to it. While I don’t keep phone appointment like that with everyone in my love circles, I do regularly think of ways I can help. It usually starts with the extra errand I could do that makes someone else’s life easier, the thank you note I could write to someone, or the simple “How was your day?” that I could ask.
  • Love cannot thrive without consistent communication. The he-said, she-said stuff from our high school years can continue into adulthood. These days, we tend to infer a lot from text messages, social media posts, and non-verbal cues without knowing the actual truth. Have the kind of relationships (within your love circles and beyond) that value regular, consistent communication, will not jump to conclusions based on the stories in our head, are quick to forgive when there’s a communication breakdown somewhere, and  can identify where the room for improvement is. (I.E. “Why didn’t either of us just pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey! I miss you!'”)

The bottom line is this: The decision to love is more about other people than it is ourselves. (Yes, in my humanity I cringed a little too.) Thanks to the Love Nudge app, we can do it a bit more easily.

Have you been called to love more? What’s your love language?

One thought on “Choose To Love

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