by Nichola Harsh – Guest writer for rforh
Love. It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot in today’s world. We see people in Hollywood act out, what they would consider love, in movies all the time and hear our favorite country music stars sing about love at the CMA awards. But, what is love and how do we find it. The way a person answers these questions will affect the way they lives their life because the truth of the matter is this. We all want to be loved. Whether it’s a parent, sibling, or that special someone with whom we will live happily ever after, we all want someone to love us. The problem is that with such a commercialization of love it is often very easy to bring a Hollywood mind-set of what love is into our everyday dating relationships. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but what you see on T.V. and in the movies is NOT love. If you and I want to be successful in our relationships, if we want to have our own “Love Story” and if you want an amazing “boy meets girl” story, where you live happily ever after with the one you love, than there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
1) Love is a choice not a feeling.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 there is an amazing description of what true biblical love is. It says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Nowhere in that list does it talk about that happy twitter-pated feeling you get whenever you look at the person you like. It doesn’t talk about the 100 volt electric shock that goes up and down your arm whenever you hold his or her hand. This verse talks about sacrifice and selflessness. That is what true love is all about, not some sappy emotion you get when you see that special someone. The ramifications this truth should have on our lives is huge. It means I am no longer forced only to love the people who I think are attractive but rather, I can love anyone; even people I don’t like.
I want to be very clear I am not expecting you to date or marry someone who you think is ugly, in fact that would just be plain dumb. After all you don’t want to have to put a bag over their face because you can’t stand to look at them (that might be awkward). What I am saying however is this. For a relationship to last long-term it has to be built on much more than a feeling you get when you hold hands.
2) The Pyramid Effect.
Not only is love a choice but relationships are a lot like a pyramid. You see it works like this. The more you have in common with a person and the more you learn to love the same things they love the closer you will be to that person. This is true in any relationship not just in the dating arena. The problem is that far to often we spend the majority of our time trying to find commonality in temporal things like entertainment preferences, hobbies, and family background rather than things that will last. Is it any wonder why those relationships don’t last? If we want to build long-lasting genuine friendships and have our dating relationships thrive we need to find our commonality in something far greater than the music we listen to and our favorite hobbies. The biggest thing we as believers should have in common is our love for God. This should be equally true of the person you choose to date. The person you date should love God more than they do you and be more interested in pleasing God than you. At first this sounds kind of harsh but think about it for a second. If a person truly loves God above everything else in their life they are going to love you. Jesus talked about this during His ministry on earth when asked what the greatest commandment was. His response was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and the second commandment is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s pretty simple really. If you are seeking to love God above all else the rest will fall into place. This is where a healthy dating relationship, marriage, and friendship is much like a pyramid. Let me explain by way of illustration.Imagine you are at the bottom of a pyramid and God is at the top. On the opposite side of that same pyramid is the person with whom your are interested. If both of you make it your goal to get closer to God without even trying as you walk up the pyramid you will both grow closer to each other. It is the same in our relationships with people. The more you grow in your love for God the more you will have in common with those around you who have the same desire of growing closer to Christ.
Maybe you, like me, have no idea who you are going to marry someday. I want to challenge you with this. Rather than trying to find that perfect guy or girl, seek to become a guy or girl worth dating. It might seem like a cheesy Sunday School answer to what seems like a crazy time in you life but remember the closer you grow to God the closer you will be with the ones around you who have the same goal and when your relationships are built upon the unity found in Christ they will be long-lasting.
As I am writing all this I understand that the main focus of this post is the dating relationship but I want to be clear that these principles apply to every aspect of life. In fact that is the reason I wanted to write on the topic of love, because it is so important not only in the dating and marriage relationship but in every relationship you and I have. I am reminded of the verses at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 that say, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” As I meditate on these verses I am challenged because of how easy it is for me to go throughout my life gaining knowledge and giving out my opinion and yet never truly loving people. It has been a huge challenge in my life to be reminded of what true Biblical love is and by God’s grace I will grow in this area of my life.
Happily Ever After.
So if you want to find that perfect person to spend the rest of your life with, or if you want to rekindle the love you once had when you were first married, remember this: Love is a choice. Choose to love unconditionally and remember that as you grow closer to God the natural result is that you will grow closer to those who love God with the same passion as you. At the end of the day know this. It is more important to be the right person than to find the right person. Just be patient. God knows what he is doing and has a plan for your life. If you already have found that special someone do me a favor. CHOOSE to love them. I know it can be hard sometimes to love a sinner but don’t forget you are a sinner too, and Christ demonstrated his love for you while you were still very unlovely. If we choose to show this same kind of love to others and make our love for God the priority in life, you and I will be able to look back on our lives and say that we truly lived happily ever after.
About Nicholas – (In his own words!) I am currently a college student in Ankeny, Iowa. Growing up I had the privilege of living in a Christian home with parents who taught me to love God above anything else. This is something that far to often I take for granted but something that I believe made me who I am today. It is because of their influence in my life and the grace of God that at the age of four I trusted Christ as my Savior. Simply put I recognized my sin and put my faith and trust in the death of Jesus Christ for my salvation. At the age of sixteen on a youth trip to Colorado I felt God calling me to be a pastor and although I did not have a spiritual “mountain top” experience that week, it has been amazing to see God confirm that decision in my life by opening up doors for ministry I would have never dreamed to be possible. Read Nicholas’s blog here!