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Love that Lasts a Lifetime

June 26, 2011 2 comments

The other night I had the lovely blessing of catching up with an old friend of mine. We discussed life, work and family, but mostly we talked about relationships. I asked her about hers and she gave me some wise advice on my lack thereof. One of my favorite questions to ask is, “Does he CHERISH you?” I’ve asked her that question before, and she likes that I ask it. Not just because her answer is yes, but because the question looks a little deeper than the typical “do you love him?” and “does he love you?” That should be a given. As Christians, we’re called to love everyone. It’s easier for some than others, but if we can’t even manage to love our significant other, we are in a pretty bad place. When we look at the romantic side of love though, it’s important that we take the time to CHERISH the other – to be captivated by their presence and desire desperately to soak up every moment of it. There’s a reason that the Song of Songs is in the Bible. This enchanted, cherishing, captivated love is one that God has for us also. And we do well to imitate it in that exclusive relationship that may lead to one which images Christ and his Church.

As we continued our discussion she shared some of her anxieties about marriage and the fact that she wanted to make sure that she knows a man really well before committing herself to marriage. In a society where so many marriages end in divorce, she thinks that the only way you can have a good chance of making it last a lifetime is if you take all the years necessary to make sure that you fully know the person (or as much as you possibly can about them) before you tie the knot. This view has a certain degree of validity, but the problem is that no matter how long you spend, you will always be discovering new things about your significant other (just as we are always learning new things about ourselves). This brought up one of my other favorite questions, “How do you define ‘love’?” The look on her face spoke volumes. It’s the one that I’m used to seeing when I ask that question. The kind of look you get if you were to ask someone what air tastes like. After her initial shock though her reply went into a few different directions and came back to the same fundamental building block that many people and our society at-large seems to identify: a feeling. To her credit, she gave much more depth to it than that, but it would all fall away without that loving feeling at the core.

This understanding of love pervades our culture, our media and our friendships and there is certainly an element of reality in it. We have these deep and passionate emotional attachments to our beloved to help us bond in a way that will last a lifetime. And I would never recommend that someone endeavor into a romantic relationship if you never felt an emotional attachment to the other. But there is also a grave danger when we fail to look beyond those feelings and root our relationship in something deeper.

“What’s the danger?” she asked. Feelings and emotions, by their nature, change. I think that so many people with this sentimental view of love find a person that they are absolutely head-over-heals for and grow so close to that they decide they want it to last forever. So they say to each other, “I feel so close to you and amazed by you that I want to commit my life to being this enamored by you and making this feeling last a lifetime.” And so they get married with the full and honest intention of keeping this feeling for a lifetime. As the years go by though and maybe after a child or two, one or both of them notice that they don’t feel the same about the other. That light seems to have gone from their eyes. They’re no longer excited the way that they used to be about just being with the other. So they talk about it and try to bring it back. They try some romantic dinners and getaways. They go to counseling. They knew that love would take work and so they commit themselves to working to bring a feeling back. The problem is that no amount of work can make you FEEL a certain way about someone or about anything for that matter. Sometimes it can help, but emotions are funny things. You can’t really pin them down. So after some work and trying everything that they can think of they finally give up. They say, “we tried, we gave it our best, we loved each other and now we don’t even though we really want to” and with that they go their separate ways wishing each other the best and searching for another love that will last a lifetime (and that’s the best-case scenario).

“So then what’s the solution? How do you define love?” Was her next question.

In order for love to last a lifetime, it has to be a CHOICE. Many people much wiser than myself have come up with great definitions for love, but the way that I see it, love is a SELFLESS allegience of the heart, formed and solidified by the WILL. (I’ve brought this up in a few other blogs of mine) All of the emotions and feelings, attraction and desire can help us to make that decision and solidify it in our heart and mind, but we must take that step of choosing to be interested in the well-being of the other REGARDLESS of what it may mean for us or how we feel at the moment. For love to last a lifetime, I need to look at my future spouse in the eye and be able to say, “I am amazed at who you are and the way that I feel around you. I am more blessed than I can say by your simple presence and truly enjoy spending time with you and I find everything about you absolutely beautiful. And all of the time we’ve spent together has helped me appreciate who you are and made me want to help you become the woman that you want to be. You inspire me to become the man that I long to be. And so I CHOOSE to love you. I choose to be for you. I choose what’s best for you over my own pleasure. I will lay down my life for you. Whether that means taking a bullet for you or taking the train to work so that you can have my car and drive to the doctor, or avoiding an attractive coworker who is making advances at me. I will be faithful to you even if after a few years I find myself more attracted to someone else (although that seems inconceivable to me at the moment). Even when I don’t FEEL the love I will CHOOSE to LIVE the love. I WILL cherish you even if their comes a time when I don’t want to. And as I spend my days getting to know you better and discovering new things about you and rediscovering old things about you I will never cease to love you. If you can make the same commitment to me, then I know that we can live a life of mutual devotion and through the trials of life; through our worst moments and our best, we will have each other and be able to share this journey with each other for the rest of our lives.”

I’m not advocating that you memorize the short speech that I just rattled off for your engagement. I’m really not even suggesting that you adopt my definition of love. What I am recommending though, is that you take the time figure out how YOU define love, how your significant other defines love, and discern DEEPLY how those definitions will be able to withstand the inevitable variations of time and emotion. After all there is a lot riding on it…. Define wisely.

AMDG

 

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Tips for Being a Better Boyfriend

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I should preface these recommendations with a disclaimer: I’m not particularly experienced or qualified in the area. I’ve had three (3) girlfriends in my life and I’m single at the moment so I obviously haven’t figured it all out yet. A much more reliable guide would come from a man who is happily married (and / or his wife). That being said, I feel like I have learned a few things, often enough from my personal failures (and those of other guys that I’ve been around) and I would be remiss if I left you to make the same mistakes. Not to mention, writing these down is a good reminder for when I can make use of them. Most of these suggestions are equally valid for married men as for those in the courting phase. Please feel free to share your own insights, suggestions or criticisms.

Read more…

Prop’s to Mario Vazquez

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I know I’ve been sticking to my own personal reflections in my posts, but this guy deserves props for bringing a theological truth to the public in a way that no church sermon could. Read more…

Reflections on Jesus’ Temptation

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

These are some of my thoughts on Luke’s account of Jesus being tempted after his 40 day retreat into the desert (Luke 4:1-13). Read more…

God’s Protection

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

God always protects us when we trust in Him. Sometimes He protects us the way he protected the Israelites from the Egyptians. Sometimes He protects us the way he protected David from Goliath. And sometimes He protects us the way he protected Jesus from the Cross.

A.M.D.G.

Christian Romance

June 19, 2011 1 comment

I read this a while back and it was an important influence for the time that I took discerning my vocation. I think it’s a message that most Christians can benefit from hearing because we don’t usually look at romance in this light. let me know what you think: Read more…

Apostolic Succession

June 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Peter encouraged the early followers to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”(1peter3:15). I think most Christians have one specific thing that does root us in our faith. When doubts arise in our hearts there is one thing that we remember and know. Even though we may not understand it all, we know this one part is true and so the rest must be true too. For some it’s the historicity of the resurrection, for some it’s our definitive need for a savior, still others fall back on some specific encounter they had with God. I believe God grants most, if not all of us, at least one strong foothold by which to persevere in faith when we are struggling with disbelief or confusion. If you have not found such a stronghold, pray that you do, I will pray with you…

I think most sincere Catholics further have some aspect within the Church that secures their faith and identity as members of the Universal Church. It may be the validity of a certain teaching or practice unique to Catholicism, a personal experience, or any number of other things. In my limited time on this earth, God has blessed me with more faith building experiences and insights than I could have ever reasonably asked for, but my sincerest security has always been with apostolic succession – the fact that Christ founded his church on the rock of Peter and gave his authority to his apostles who specifically appointed men to take on their roles, assume their authority and carry the keys that were handed down to them by Christ. These successors are today’s Roman Catholic clergy. And to this day, they retain the power that Christ gave his apostles to forgive sins, teach with authority, confer the Holy Spirit, and offer the sacrifice of His true body and blood. Read more…