If one went solely by what people said these days, an alien visitor to the planet would think that everybody loved everybody. Or that loving was easy and came naturally. Or that loving occurred whether you knew a person or not.
To love another is mostly a choice one makes. For sure there are things that make such love occur easier: if your husband performed great acts of service around the house, it’d be easier for you to feel like you love him. Or when your kiddo did that cute thing she does with her face? Aaaah, I just love her. Or when your friend returned the favor? Perfect. I love her. Those are the easy parts. Truth is, though, real love is a choice. It’s what we do when that child is impossible, when your partner won’t listen to you or doesn’t seem to respect you, or when that person you called a friend doesn’t, in fact, return the favor. Heck, it’s what we choose to do when a person, through his/her actions, effectively slaps us on the cheek!
I read a blog post recently that so impacted me and I’m grateful to the writer, whoever she is. The very fact that we love to love, or that we feel we ought to, is part of our hard-wiring. You don’t have babies born who grow up naturally attracted to the notion of causing others pain. In fact, there are sociological terms for kids who don’t respond in more empathetic manners as they develop. Which indicates that there is a basic expectation (based on reality) of how people ought to treat each other. Even the idea of using the word “ought” again speaks to an invisible but real hard-wiring. We were made to love because we were made out of Love.
He, Jesus, God, is love. He can’t be different from who He is. That’s just it. We on the other hand often can and do choose to act less than loving. He doesn’t. He cannot. Because we were made in His image, we are always going to want to be loved, want to give love, and want that love to be appreciated. We will always sing songs about love, will always believe that love makes the world go round, and will always, at a subconscious level, agree that “all you need is love”. We didn’t teach ourselves to do and be this way. Again, hard-wiring.
How about our connection to the Source, then? The Bible actually says that we love because He first loved us. Google that. It’s true. So then, our ability to love even God did not originate with us. We are beings who respond to love. Think about it. No matter how rough and gruff your day is going, and how angry you were at how you were treated by so-and-so, the moment you start experiencing acts of kindness (read: love), you find that you melt. Repeated acts of such kindness may cause you to change orientation entirely for that day. In turn, you’ll decide your day was actually not so bad. In fact, you’ll say, it was a pretty good day! 😊 Same with dealing with a person who has had hard knocks since, it seemed, the day he was born. Accustomed to nothing going well for him, he has learned to put up walls in his heart. It shows up on his face, body language, demeanor etc. when dealing with people. Repeated acts of love literally can change such a person’s entire outlook not only of life, but of himself, and ultimately, of God.
That’s why God is always pursuing your heart and my heart. He’s always wooing us, like the most perfect gentleman. He knows how hard our days can sometimes be. He knows the pain of what happens when things don’t go as we’d desired. He knows, He knows, He knows. But, He cares. He wants to help. And so His arms are always outstretched to you and I, to any person who recognizes their need for Him and who, like a toddler, responds by lifting up their arms and saying, “Up, please!” Toddlers like mine love very much to be carried up, lifted from their (low) status and cradled.
Look. We might as well be honest with ourselves. We all want a big ole hug on the regular. I do! And there’s a whole world of people who need it. Bringing me to this: God is deliberate in His love for us and in His attempts to reach us. Are we as deliberate in our choices of who to love?
This Valentines day, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t only love those people we know are easy to love? I for sure need to grow in this aspect.