I love romance. This is not a blog about throwing that out of the window and forcing yourself to pick someone so you can have a spouse. Don’t do that.
But lately, and more commonly, it seems like people are treating relationships the same way they would a diet:
When they’re reeeally wanting to get some abs, they make a new healthy grocery list, plan out all of their workouts, start out real optimistic…and the moment they hit a bump or just don’t feel like it anymore, they quit.
It’s stressful and emotionally taxing. They continue to wonder, “Why do I want this so badly yet I go up and down, it never works out, I’m motivated one second and depressed the next…” This situation and so many others that we find ourselves in boils down to one small, crucial ingredient:
Because you have not chosen it.
Your feelings started the initial desire (which is GREAT), but you assumed that they would carry you through to victory. You relied on your feelings (that can change at the drop of a hat) to remain constant and perfectly positive all the way to the end. Your feelings are the thing that set you in motion, and you assumed they would always KEEP you in motion— you let them call the shots.
But feelings are not constant. They are fickle.
Here’s the difference:
Again, not here to suck romance away, but I AM HERE to share the differences I learned that took me from following my feelings all through life, to:
- praying for wisdom and discernment,
- allowing my feelings to have a say, and
- being powerful and responsible to make a decision about what I was going to do with those feelings.
5 Characteristics of CHOOSING love:
1. Someone living in freedom is free to choose love & who they love
A huge part of love is freedom. That’s what makes love, love. That’s what encompasses the kind of love I WANT. I want the person I’m with to choose loving me. I don’t want them to have “uncontrollably fallen for me” like they were under a spell, and I also don’t want them to force themselves to love me. I want them to choose to love me.
I want them to decide that I am the person they are fighting to be connected with when I’m easy to get along with and when it would be easier to quit.
It would be easy to order a pizza every night and never eat a vegetable again because that’s what I want in that moment. Is that the wisest thing to do and will I be happy later down the road? Probably not.
When you choose love, you are choosing into a bigger goal of connection, even when you have the option not to. Having the option out and still choosing the other person, is a decision made in freedom. That’s love.
It’s natural for you to respond to someone who likes you by liking them back. But “natural” isn’t necessarily a choice. A choice to love actually holds more freedom than a natural response you can’t control.
2. When I choose to love someone, I’m no longer acting out of anxiety.
Anxiety comes from a place of fear. Fear and love cannot coexist anywhere. It is not allowed in the Kingdom.
ANXIETY within relationship can make you think:
- What if I don’t love them in five years?
- What if they stop loving me?
- What if I do something they don’t like and they decide they don’t want me anymore?
- What if I say something terrible when I’m hungry?
CHOOSING someone and knowing you’re chosen back then gives you the freedom to live, evolve, and grow. To be who you are without trying to be “who they would want.”
When you are both living freely and have chosen each other, the freedom does not come at the cost of your connection. The more you can be you, and the more they can be them, the more your relationship anxiety can decrease and the more love can step in.
3. Choose to love before you have to
People say not to go to the grocery store hungry because if you don’t predetermine what you’re going to get and simply shop based on your feelings, chances are you’ll come back with Cheetos and popsicles. You won’t make the best choices. Same here.
If you wait for every hard bump in the road to decide if you’re sticking around or not on a case-by-case basis, that’s not going to end well.
If you predetermine that you are choosing love now and in the future, whatever comes, then you are being a powerful person in this relationship saying, “Life does not tell me whether to be connected to you or not. I have already willed to be be. I will. I have chosen love. I don’t wait to see if I feel love or not.”
4. It takes more courage to choose love than to wait for it to “happen to you”
Every relationship requires courage. One of the biggest and most important things I have learned since facing my fears about relationships is that in the same way you have to choose to love someone, you also have to be willing to choose to walk away if you discover that a certain relationship is not what’s best for you.
On the same token, it is a choice to stay and work through tough things. No one you meet is going to have zero differences from you. It’s easy for us to think that if certain areas are difficult, that must mean this is not the person I should be with.
YOU WILL have differences. Remember: that’s often why people are drawn to each other in the first place.
5. When you choose to be together, that same power will KEEP you together
Not to go there, but let’s go there:
Nothing is going to MAKE you stay with someone or someone stay with you. You and that person will always have the option to leave and not be with each other anymore. The only thing keeping you together is your choice to stay together.
So if you are dreaming of a relationship that lasts a lifetime (as most of us are), that will require you and another person choosing each other over and over again, through good times and bad, to be together.
The Lord chose us and He didn’t even require that we choose Him in return. But when we do, that begins the foundation of a relationship built on the most beautiful and authentically true love.