What Is Love?

After much soul searching this week, I think I’m ready to dig a little deeper. 

I grew up with a beautiful example of love. My parents shared a 1 Corinthians 13 love. While not perfect, they still taught me to always choose to love with patience and kindness, selflessness and honesty. They taught me that love is a verb, it’s an action we choose every day, it’s not a feeling that can ebb and flow depending on your mood, it’s a commitment. When you don’t necessarily feel like loving your spouse, you commit to it, you don’t give up. Feelings change depending on your mood and circumstances, commitment stays. That commitment has been so hard to give up.

I loved him with all my heart, completely and totally. I loved him the way I was taught to love, wholly with enthusiastic commitment. No matter what he did, or how he made me feel, I chose love, and I tried to example that back at him in the hopes that he would choose the same love. I was nowhere near perfect in this, but I tried my very best and worked so hard to show him love. I think he also showed me love in the way he was taught. It was controlling and manipulative, but I believe it was all he knew. I think he thought he was loving me, and I think because he has never had the type of love I was giving him, he couldn’t feel what I gave as love.

The abuse, the lies, the control, the cheating, the belittling, the manipulation, those were all exampled to him by those who claimed to love him. This is how generational sin occurs. This is why it’s so important for parents to love carefully and selflessly with a 1 Corinthians 13 love. The same chemical bonding we have discussed in the past few posts works the same for children, and may be even stronger. Then they grow up and become either abusers who are repeating what they have been taught, or the abused who believe they’re receiving love. It’s a cycle that must be broken.

In my anger over his affair, I yelled and screamed and raged, and I even hit him a couple times for hurting me so horribly.  I am so ashamed of that. I know that it’s understandable that I would react that way because betrayal is hands down the worst thing someone could do to a loved one, but I knew better. I knew how to love in a Godly way and my response was not Godly at all. I was just in so much pain. I controlled, making him tell me where he was and who he was with at all times. I read his texts and his emails, I sobbed every night, and I desperately needed him to help me heal and begged him daily to do things I asked of him. And I think he finally felt loved. My controlling behavior finally made him feel like I loved him, so his lies and deceit continued because that finally gave him the response he craved. Through my pain and anger, he could finally see how much I loved him. 

After a few years of living like this, I told him how unhappy I was and how I couldn’t stand living like this. I will never forget him telling me that he was happy, and he assumed I was happy, too. I couldn’t understand that at all then, but I do now. He was finally in the relationship that he thought was loving and good. I think me divorcing him came as a shock. I believe he thought we could go on forever like that as long as his lies were kept small and he didn’t cheat. The problem was, I knew without him getting the help he needed to break the generational bonds that bind him, he would never give me the peace and safety that is felt in a relationship with true love. We would never have that on earth example of Christ’s unconditional love for us. We would never have the joy that comes from true shared love. I needed much more than he was willing to try for. He wanted what everyone else had, and I wanted what was rare and true.

So, I closed off my heart to him. I didn’t want to, but I had to save myself and my boys. I had to try to break the generational sin that binds their family. I knew if I ever wanted to someday have that beautiful love my parents shared, I had to walk away. I may never find it, but that’s ok. I know God loves me and I know I can find my peace and security in Him. His love is unconditional, it’s not based on how I look or how I perform. It doesn’t matter if I have a bad day and don’t show Him love, He still loves me wholly and completely, because He chooses me. Love is an amazing gift that He has given us, it is the greatest thing we have here on earth. You should not spend your whole life never knowing that love. 

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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