John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As Christians, as followers of Christ, we are called to love people. I believe it’s our first calling; we should love totally and with no conditions. How should we love each other? How should we show this love?
When we hear the world “love,” many images come to mind. It’s a word we use for everything. We can say that we love french fries, just like we can say “I love my mother." We also use this word to try and defend ourselves in certain wrongdoings, for example: "I committed adultery because I loved her," which for us, is simply a sin. Many have come to say "I hit her because I love her," when it's actually domestic violence.
Many ask themselves "What happened to the 'honeymoon' love?" Many ask this because they've gone through divorces after having been supposedly "in love." For others it's worse, having gone through two or even three divorces, thinking that each one was definitive. Now they ask themselves "Is divorce normal? Is it normal for love to just dissipate?"
The sad truth is that statistically, 40% of new marriages end up separating, and those who have second marriages are 60% likely to have yet another divorce, and it only gets worse for those who try for a third attempt.
The problem is that we have to learn to be good communicators of love. Just like we learn to speak in our native tongues and becomes our primary language, love is the same way. To speak another language, for me personally, I have to make an effort and sometimes can't find the right words to correctly communicate. In love, we have all been raised in a different way, a different language.
Some of us grew up with the love and care of our parents and those who surround us, which molded the way we show love, making it our primary way of showing it. Some of us received it in an unstable fashion, or not at all, and may have problems showing love to others. The problem here lies in forming a relationship with someone who wasn't raised the same way as we were.
Romans 5:5 "...God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
This pouring of God's love happened in a space that God Himself designed in our hearts to be filled by only true love. Agape, unconditional love, is to be accepted, wanted, appreciated, and loved. This space should be filled with love, for some, their parents made an effort to fill it, but others didn't receive it in the same way. This is why many people go around searching, with a hunger for love, and the desperation is so great that they look for it in the wrong places, and what they find is hurt and abuse.
So is the story of Talita, a girl who at 13 was already being treated for STD's. Her mother had divorced her father, and three years later was married to another man who loved her. Talita thought that her mother had found someone who would love her, but she herself didn't have this love. She was raised with a thirst for love. An older boy from school approached her, told her he loved her, but was just trying to get her in bed. The rest is history, as Talita's history of abuse only increased as she searched to fill this void in her heart.
Can you see why love is so important? Jesus knows it, and for this has commissioned us to show love to others. When your "void" is filled, you are emotionally fulfilled and can love naturally. Paul also said that everything we do or say should be done with love. This is the kind of love that we all need. To feel accepted, loved, and wanted. When it's received, we are healthy and responsible. Without this love, one becomes socially challenged.
By nature, we have the need to be loved. God put this desire in us Himself. Marriage is designed to fill this need. There's no need for profession, vocation, or financial success without a spouse. The absence of this love will lead for us to look for it in fornication or even adultery.
Many of us get married when we're in love (with our voids being filled), but this emotional phase usually doesn't make it past two years. It's after this point that many fall in the reality of life, where maybe you have kids, you've noticed some personality traits that don't mesh well, and you know you have the ability to hurt and criticize your spouse in a harmful way. These issues form mountains of emotional separation. Welcome to real marriage. The illusion is over. This is where many regret getting married, and remember the warnings, and ask themselves "why didn't I listen to them?"
We must remember that the other's person's desires will not always be the same as ours. She may want to do something, but I want something else. I may want to watch the game, but she may want to visit her parents. If you don't make an effort to mix them, you may become individuals with separate wills and ideals. At this point, many will separate or divorce and find another honeymoon-phase experience, or stay in a dry and loveless relationship.
Those who make it past this decide to love genuinely and be generous, where they can cultivate a deeper relationship. If we want to be emotionally healthy, the need to love should be filled in the relationship. Adults need love, affection, and respect from their spouses. When this is provided, a good relationship emerges.
For those who don't have this, I have good news, because love is not a feeling, it's a decision. This type of love starts with the right attitude, in a state of mind that says "If I'm going to marry you, I will choose to worry about your interests." When this person has decided to love the other person, they will look for ways of showing this love. They will look for the love language that speaks to them most directly, and will love them in the way that they best receive it. We can accomplish this, we will be the happiest people on earth, with strong and healthy families.
God has called us to love one another—let's make a commitment to do this every day.