Love: Emotion or Choice

by | Dec 23, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Love is something all of us crave in some way, shape, or form. There have been events that have occurred in our lives where many of us have closed our hearts from receiving or giving love to protect ourselves from being hurt again.

Too often, people in our lives who were meant to teach us how to love by extending love to us sadly have failed in that department. Typically this starts in one of the most basic relationships we have, and that’s in the family, namely with our parents. If we could be honest, some of our parents lacked affection, rarely said they loved us or loved us with conditions while saying their love was unconditional. 

Really, what were we to do with that?!!

How were we supposed to learn how to effectively love when we never had a real example of what love looked like? 

 

As a millennial mom, I’ve realized that there are some things surrounding love that our parents had to try and figure out when they navigated parenthood. Unfortunately, many of the broken ways of the previous generation influenced how they moved when parenting us. As a mom, I’ve tried to be very intentional about how I parent, and that includes taking a self-inspection of how I teach, influence, and love on my children.

 

Have any of you noticed any mannerisms of your parents that you exhibit when parenting? Are they harmful or helpful? Do you act consciously or unconsciously?

 

Sometimes we do what they’ve done and don’t even notice. 

 

One of the most important things I wanted to do is show my children in terms of love is that love is not a feeling; it is a choice. Even when you do not feel like the other person deserves your love, you can still make a CHOICE to love them well. I wanted them also to understand that love, too, is not harmful. When people do things like hurt you but turn around and say that they love you, to know that that is not true love. What they’ve experienced is an emotional response to whatever that person’s trigger was.

 

 It’s important to teach our children the difference between love and emotion. Emotion is a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. In contrast, love is a bit more layered. Not all love is created equal. 

 

Some love is brotherly. 

Some romantic.

Some unconditional.

Some natural/familial.

The type of love we have toward our family is storge, which is a deep caring natural bond that we should walk in with our loved ones. This kind of love is protective, loyal, and can withstand many trials. However, the type of love we all should strive to walk in is agape. This form of love is the highest, being that it is sacrificial. It isn’t predicated on whether or not the other person loves you in return; it is everlasting.

 

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 TPT:

4 Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] 7 Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. 8 Love never stops loving.[n] It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away.[o] It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.

 

In my personal experience, I’ve found that although this form of love can be tough to walk in, it was much easier to do with my ex-husband than with my children. In “When the Bridge Breaks: Sacrificing a Perverted Promise,” I write about having to sacrifice a perverted form of love that I had settled for while learning and walking in agape love. Since my children were watching me walk out what love should look like, the Lord had me to dig deep in my relationship with them.

Why could I only show love and affection toward them to a certain extent and then shut down? Where was my patience in dealing with their wants, needs, brokenness, or pain? My parents. The answer partially lied in the relationship between my parents and me. How they were able to extend love to me shaped how I loved on my children. Also, it is interesting to note that our children are a lot like us! When you’re faced with parenting versions of yourself, it can be quite difficult considering all you want your children to do is respond how you feel you’d react in a situation. 

Crazy right?!

Often I have to go back to the basics, and that is looking at how Jesus loves. 

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The way God loves us is the most excellent example of what true love should indeed look like. There was never a thing we had to do to earn His love. He knows everything about us from the womb to our death and still loves us no matter what. We have the freedom just to be, which enables us to extend that same type of love for others. 

 

So I admonish you all to look at yourselves and inspect how you love your children and others. Is there anything from your childhood that has shaped how you love now? Is there anything you can change today to love better tomorrow? If so, do it, and I pray you have the strength to do so.