Love: A Choice

holding hands1

Ah, falling in love.  There isn’t a feeling more sublime nor desire more universal; to find someone to love and fall hard.

Where did we get the term “fall in love”?

It carries roots in the English language, however, no one is certain of its original source.  Apparently, one of the earliest known uses of the phrase “fall in love” occurs in Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queen, published in the 1590s.
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While it is a romantic idiom, it is really accurate? I mean, using the word fall in the same way we say “fall into a trap,” or “to fall ill” implies that the process is in some way uncontrollable, tragic, risky, with no choice involved.  And, carrying that implication further, we use its corollary, “we fell out of love” as an excuse for failing marriage.

“Falling in love” and “falling out of love” sound as if love were something accidental and involuntary. Is this really the case?

Now, I’m a romantic. I believe whole heartedly in “love at first sight,” “soul mate” love. Yes, finding that person with whom you feel a deep connection; heart beating, sparks flying, dopamine levels rising, eyes locking, feelings recalling a deeper familiarity when all time stands still in that person’s presence. Oh ya, I believe in soul-mate love.

And since I’m a die-hard romantic, I’d always believed that love was a condition – a feeling involving 100% of the heart – something that happened to you.

While soul-mate connections and falling in love does happen, the gospel tells us that the truest, deepest, and most lasting form of love is more a choice, involving the mind. Let me give you an example.

In Mosiah 4:15, King Benjamin counseled parents:
Ye will teach them [your children] to love one another, and to serve one another.

Interesting words. “You will teach them to love.” How can something be taught that cannot be learned? King Benjamin was telling parents that children can learn to love one another. And if they can learn to love and serve, then it also means that love must be a process of choice and not just a destination.

You might say, “but what about love between spouses, which involves the additional elements of romance and intimacy? Does this principle of agency and love apply to marriage as well?” Good question.  I find it interesting that in scripture, there are only two situations in which we are commanded to love with all our heart.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind.
Matthew 22:37

The second situation in which we are commanded to love with a whole heart is also our answer to whether or not the principle of agency and love apply to marriage.

Thou shalt love thy wife [husband] with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her [him] and none else.
Thou shalt live together in love.
D&C 42:22, 45

Love:  A Covenant We Keep with Mind and Soul
We’re actually commanded to love our spouse and family and live together in love. He’s not saying, “I hope someday you will love…” No. This command is a directive, an appeal to the mind to make a conscious choice, involving reasoning and decision-making.

In commanding us to love, the Lord refers to something much deeper than romance. He is speaking of love that is the most profound form of loyalty. He is teaching us that love is something more than feelings of the heart. Love is also a covenant we keep with soul and mind.

But, let’s pose those same questions from my previous post. What about those who are difficult to love? What about individuals who seem to thrive on causing grief? What should your course of action or re-action be?

Strained Relationships
There is a family member with whom I have had a rocky relationship from the time I was very young. Several years ago he did something again which was unjustified and it troubled me greatly. Each time he’d do something, it would stir emotions from all other things he has said and done through the years. Well, this time, I was hanging on to this grudge. I was right. And, I was tired of his attacks.

During the time this occurred, I was asked to guest teach in another ward in my stake – a lesson on faith and hope. When I am asked to teach, my understanding is that I become a messenger for the Lord. It is my job to bring both the message and the Spirit to my audience and allow the Spirit to do the real teaching. So, I pray, study, and prepare as thoroughly as I can.

Preparing for this assignment was no different. I was on my knees often, asking for inspiration. And, funny…I didn’t gain any ideas. Nada. I studied harder and longer. Still nothing. Just one big mind-block. Then one afternoon, as I knelt in prayer, asking once again for guidance, the Spirit clearly said to my mind, “Julie, if you do not forgive [this person] and let it go, you will not teach.”

This was my moment of decision.

What was my priority?  My greater desire? Did I want to be angry and right?
Or did I want to teach with the Spirit?

Suddenly, my desire became very clear and I handed the bitterness and anger over to the Savior. Now, the miracle of prayer is that He took it and replaced those feelings with peace.

Relationships don’t flourish because the guilty are punished, but because the innocent are merciful. What is important to you?

Choose to Love 
A decision to love is a decision to see the world and others with perspective. To look beyond the stresses of the moment, look past the exterior, and see others and yourself as valued children of God.

Bottom Line:  While falling in love is sublime, easy, and effortless, we cannot progress into the deepest and purest form of love without the Lord’s help. This is where choice comes in.  Bring Him into your relationships.

Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Moroni 7:48

If you have a relationship that is fragile or teetering, there are many steps you can take to stabilize it. However, immerse every one of those steps in prayer. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask Heavenly Father to bless you with that Spirit and help you to love as He loves.

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 5:5

Pray for the success of your marriage and family relationships. Ask the same God who raised the dead to resurrect the embers of your love. Pray for your neighbor, co-worker, and friendship associations. Ask Him to help you see others as He sees them.

More and more in these last days, our ability to love will be the determining factor of whether or not we are true followers of Christ.

President David O. McKay said:
“Love is the divinest attribute of the human soul.”
(Conference Report, Oct 1950, 162)

Why is that?  Because love, in its truest form, draws us closer to God than any other feeling. There isn’t anything more reverent or holy. A decision to love is a decision to become closer to God. A decision to love – especially those who are difficult to love – is a decision to have a heart like Christ.

Source:  Lynn G. Robbins, Agency and Love in Marriage, Ensign, Oct 2000

To read –
Part I: The Secret to Loving is Receiving
Part II: Love: A Package Deal

 
 

 

 

 
They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.

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3 thoughts on “Love: A Choice

  1. I don’t think falling in love with someone is a choice but i think the so called falling out of love is. My husband and i have been married for 13 years and we have been through everything you can imagine from adultery ,drugs , alcohol , verbal abuse, control issues, children, losing a daughter and more at any time we could have decided to quit but we never would. We have had a wonderful marriage for almost three years now and are more in love then we have ever been. If you havve time you should ccheck out my blog i recently did a post on divorce you may like mommyx4boys.wordpress.com

  2. Pingback: The Secret to Loving is Receiving | The Nef Chronicles

  3. Pingback: Love: A Package Deal | The Nef Chronicles

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