In eastern Henrico County on a back road adjoined to Route 5, there used to be a small private school called Chickahominy Academy. All the way through sixth grade, this was my place for learning in the classroom, fun on the playground, horrors in the cafeteria, trouble in the library, napping on the bus rides, and realizing that girls didn’t have cooties after all…okay maybe some!
I remember sitting down with my Mom the week of Valentines Day each year after having purchased a box of kid’s Valentines Day cards, with my allowance money of course. The pack had an assortment of messages and then I would enclose one of the heart shaped candies that had a stamped message. Everyone in class was doing the same thing. Everyone got a card. No one was left out. Those were the rules. So the strategy was now what to say to each girl. Some cards and hearts were about friendship and other cards and hearts were for romance…getting those confused could be disastrous! But even in the innocence of adolescence, I was learning a monumental life lesson…true love always has a choice.
I am careful to use the word “has” and not “is” because I grow weary of hearing people say that love is a choice. Love is not a choice. Love is not a decision. Love is a feeling. That makes some people nervous because they view emotions as superficial sentiments. I think those people are trying to convince the world that love is a decision because misery enjoys company! I do believe that right feelings follow right actions so if you are in a loveless marriage, there is hope for you! But the hope is for feeling to return, for the emotion of love to fill your heart again for the one to whom you promised your life through the sacred vows of matrimony.
1 Corinthians 13 has not found its way into the consciousness of even secular culture by being a chapter about decision making. This sacred text is so celebrated because those are the feelings we want others to have toward us. They are the feelings we aspire to have for others! This love is so special, so celebrated, so coveted because it always has the choice to be impatient, to be unkind, to be jealous, boastful, and proud, to be rude, to demand its own way, to be irritable and keep a record of wrongs, to rejoice at injustice, to give up, to lose faith, for hope to wane, and endurance in difficult circumstances to fail…but it does not. True love always has a choice. True love finds a deep, abiding affection for someone even when our humanity is tempted to feel something contrary.
I don’t want a marriage that exists only in decision. I don’t want children who relate to me only through acts of will. I don’t want parents who pursue me only out of obligation. I don’t want siblings who spend time with me only because of duty. There is something in this world that is eternal. There is something in this world that God says is the deepest, most cherished of all. It is not faith. It is not hope. It is love.
Today as you open the Bible, see Holy Scripture as a single card, a card with only two words…be Mine. He loves us.