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Choosing to Love, Even If It Hurts

Love can be painful -- and the truest love often is. It is sacrificial, humble and long-suffering. And, ultimately, love is a choice.

In the book 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life,  Lauren F. Winner  had some great things to say about love.

In it, she talks about Christian dating and the tendency we sometimes have to try to avoid hurt in our relationships. Some people are very careful to guard their emotions in dating or courtship relationships in order to avoid heartbreak. But, says Lauren, this may not be the most Christian way to do things:

Perhaps avoiding pain should not be our main concern in thinking about dating and courtship. Christians ought to strive to protect one another’s hearts as they date, but dating involves risk and vulnerability, and risk and vulnerability often involve heartache. If one chooses a dating style motivated by a hope to minimize pain and risk, one opts out and avoids what love entails.

Love can be painful — and the truest love often is. It is sacrificial, humble and long-suffering. And, ultimately, love is a choice. Our culture has taught us that love depends solely on how we’re feeling about someone, and once those feelings fade away, you should move on to the next person. But as we can see through the biblical example of God’s relationship with Israel, committed love is based on sticking to our promises. Lauren has some great things to say about marriage relationships — and what that relationship should look like as our feelings come and go:

In the Christian idiom, love is not merely — or even primarily — an emotion. Indeed, classic Christian wedding vows make plain that our emotions are, if not wholly irrelevant, at least not the principal point of marriage. At a wedding, brides and grooms pledge to love each other until one of them dies, a pledge that makes no sense if love is only a feeling. After all, I have little control over my feelings; I can’t promise someone I will have a certain set of feelings about him next week, let alone next year or in fifty years. Indeed, these vows make sense only if the couple’s love is the agape love of the New Testament, Christian love, love that is about a choice they make to serve someone and to be loving toward them regardless of what they happen to feel that morning.

So, as we love — significant others, family, friends — let’s try to do so in a way that serves them, for this is the love we’ve been shown by our Father.

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About the Author

Denise Morris Snyder

Denise Morris Snyder is a mom, wife and part-time discipleship pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary.

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