Love Is A Choice

BY: Deana Bell, Director, Restored Marriage
So today my husband and I had a discussion about LOVE. What is love? How do we need to be shown love? Is it still love if you express it and it is not received the way it was intended? How do we learn to be more loving and accepting of one another? Is love a choice?
My conviction is that love IS a choice. It's not something we fall into haphazardly or don't have a say in. We make choices. Everyday. Love is one of them.
Today I learned that I am not loving my husband the way he needs to be loved. What I feel I have done for the past 20 years in loving him is not how he wanted me to show him love.
Here's just a sprinkling of the things that are in my personal library right now...reflective of how I thought that I could learn to love my husband.
  1. The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick
  2. Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
  3. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray
  4. His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley, Jr.
  5. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
How is it that someone who has read and studied all of these books, does not know how to give their spouse the love they need?
I share this because, at this time, I thought that reading a certain book, going to some seminar on marriage, and inventorying other people would give me the rules for being a perfect wife. My intentions were there; my delivery, not so much apparently. It's not that these books aren't good and helpful, but something was missing.
What I learned in this, is that all this time, I was forgetting God, specifically Jesus. Yes, my husband and I were married in faith, went to church, and professed to know God. BUT, I never once in all of these years, until recently, asked God how to love my husband.
I am fairly certain that God would not have told me to read the above list of books. He would not have said, "Deana, just go to this one last seminar and you'll be all set and on your way to a perfect marriage!"
He would have told me, had I listened years ago, to look at His Son.
Someone told me recently that until a Christian truly understands what Jesus did for them on the cross, they won't be able to really understand what love is. Until we make it PERSONAL, that Jesus died for US, and for every little sin we've ever committed, we can't possibly understand the enormity of love.
So you might be asking..."Jesus died for me?"
Yes, YOU, and me and my husband and my mother and my father and even that family member that you don't like very much. He died for us all. He (God) didn't judge us or our sins BEFORE He asked His Son to die for us. He knew we were ALREADY worthy of his love and forgiveness.
What does THAT say about love?
I have come to the conclusion that I have not been loving my husband with the love of God. Yes, I feel pretty good about what I tried to do on my own. What I didn't try though, was asking God how to love him.
I won't go into the details now, but when I DID ask God how to love my husband, this is what He said..."Pour out the love." He gave me Scripture after Scripture on how to love someone with the love of Christ.
Now that might not really seem like an answer if I don't truly know what love is, so I asked, "God, what does that look like for me and my marriage?"
"Now we're getting somewhere, Deana."
And I didn't just stop with that one question. I continued, periodically, to ask the same question, followed by, "God, am I doing this right? Please show me if I am not."  What I learned was that loving my husband well, meant different things on different days. What he needed one day, might be different from the next. What I found out was that asking God first was the key.
What I DO KNOW, is that if I keep continuing on this path, I will someday experience the love from my husband that I truly desire. I will be loved because I have loved first. I will be loved because I AM loved first.
What I ALSO know, is that because I asked those questions, God has enabled me to FEEL love...the love of the Father, the love that knows no boundaries, the love that keeps giving even when I can't.
Here are some Scriptures to meditate on...

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world; He gave his one and only, Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."
1 Corinthians 13:7 "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endure through every circumstance"
1 John 4:7 "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God."
1 Corinthians 13:13 "Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love."
Romans 12:10 "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other."
Colossians 3:14 "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony"
1 John 3:18 "Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions."
Deuteronomy 5:10 "But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands."
Lord Jesus, I have failed in loving my spouse the way You intended. I have fallen short of loving the one you have entrusted me to spend my life with. I pray now, in the name of Jesus, that You, Father, would show me the Way. Lord, I repent of my previous ways and I submit myself to You, knowing that You have the answer every time. I ask you to fill me with Your Holy Spirit when I am in connection with my spouse. I ask You, God, to be my Light and my Lamp which guides my feet. I stand on Your Word for my marriage, which is good and will bring greater understanding to the world about Your will for marriages. Lead me on Your path. Show me Your ways. And above all else, let me be a shining bright Light for Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Deana is currently one of the Directors of Covenant Keepers, International. She graduated from the Dove School of Leadership through Chesapeake Bible College and received her Pastor's license in 2019. Previously she and her husband, Koji, served as the Mid-West Regional Directors of Covenant Keepers and as small group leaders in that area. She has a degree in Secondary Education as well as experience in counseling from a biblical standpoint. For the last 20 years, she has also served her family as a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher. Deana's marriage has been restored since 2013.
She is passionate about having a relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She has seen many miracles in her life as well as in the lives of the people around her. At her core, she is an encourager and disciple of Christ, spending most of her days ministering to people and digging into the Word. She also speaks at conferences, loves to write, and teach the Word of God. She and her family currently live and attend church in the Charlotte, NC area.
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