Maybe we don’t operate in healthy love because we have all too often have the very definition of love confused with something more selfish or easy. That is, if we view love for what it is, we will likely find that we have missed the core of love in the first place. Then, from that distorted definition, the perversion is that we are interested in love only to the extent that it makes us feel good. The core of love is not entirely captured in the mushy, fragile emotion expressed in romance novels nor is it the harsh, abrasive confrontation of “tough love.”
Most of us know about the “rule” of “love others as you love yourself” so the love begins with loving yourself (if you don’t love yourself; you will not be able to love others since the standard is to love them “as” we love ourselves). That is where it is important to be free from the guilt, shame, hurt and habits that keep us from receiving Love. Receipt of True Love is a decision and the basis for exercising in relational love; that Love that takes us from dependant on our feelings to having a measure of True Love to exercise in and from. We receive Eternal and True love with the ability to serve as a channel for that Love to flow through us and out to others. There is no question that when we receive that True and Lasting Love, we do so by choice and we don’t deserve it; we need Grace to receive it.
If we go to the gym, we can increasing lift greater amounts of weights and increasingly run further with cardio endurance. In the same way, our exercising in love through deciding to love in verb form and not just adjectives of the giddiness of new love will lead us to carry a greater commitment with perseverance. We can lift our way through the times that we just don’t feel like it and we can run the relationship for the long run. We don’t have the risk of waking up one morning and doing the whole “we fell out of love” or “I still love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Those two phrases are so common in the breaking of the marriage commitment that they have gained credibility as valid. Neither of them have anything to do with love, and everything to do with decisions stemming from desires of self.
Love is a choice, not a feeling. We operate from a decision to show love to others. When we choose to express love for others, the love that is in us is exercised and strengthened and we will have greater love to give. When we say that we love somebody, the only love that we are declaring is an unconditional love, there is no other kind of love that is legitimate love. Absent our decision to act with love towards the other, there is not really love, just a desire to receive Love.