I’m anxious to write this down. Nevertheless, today I am going to share my thoughts on love.
At fifteen years old, I discovered true love. It came dressed in tragedy when two Air Force officers showed up at my house to tell me my twenty-one year old brother had died. Looking back, that day taught me that love is selfless and unconditional. Love conquers death; it’s timeless. That day was a turning point in my life, and soon after, I promised to never take time for granted again.
My brother’s death challenged my beliefs at their very core. After some serious questioning, I emerged a woman confident that I would find my identity in Christ. For the first time, I understood the truest, purest form of love: agape love.
I like this definition:
Agape love is unconditional love that is always giving and impossible to take. It devotes total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not.
Even in my grief, God’s love never ceased. After losing my brother, I struggled to let myself feel anything. Like trust, love is an incredibly hard thing to regain when you have been deeply hurt. But God was patient with me. Slowly, I learned how to accept love again.
Now able to accept love, I began learning how to love myself. I set lofty goals and worked hard to achieve them. Year by year, I grew in confidence and independence. Athlete, writer, entrepreneur, friend, traveler. These adjectives reflected my time and energy. Like all humans, I carried my share of insecurities, but I also grew confident in who I was as a person.
Today, I believe learning how to accept and reflect God’s love and learning how to love oneself is important preparation for sharing love with a significant other. I’ve never had a serious relationship, and while I’m still learning and growing, I think I’m finally at a place in my life where I can begin to think about loving someone else.
I’ve seen examples of healthy marriages, and I’ve also seen relationships fall to pieces. My thoughts on this subject have matured over the last few years, and I’ve since come up with a few guiding principles I think are important for a lasting marriage.
It’s about commitment, not compatibility.
It’s not about finding the perfect person, it’s about being perfectly committed
(taken from my sister and brother-in-law’s Design Principles for Marriage).
Marriage lasts a lifetime. Don’t rush into a relationship or say “I love you” unless you really mean it. When conflict comes, assume the best and be patient with the one you love.
Put God first in your relationship, and in your day, every day, so that this becomes a habit.
God will speak to you through his Word and direct you.
Never go to bed angry.
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give Satan a foothold. -Ephesians 4:26–27
Married life is a marathon.
It is not enough to make a great start towards a long-term marriage. You will need the determination to keep going. Only then will you make it to the end.
Surround yourself with community.
Find other like-minded Christian couples. Seek out examples of healthy marriages from those older than you, and invest in those younger.
Find a couple you respect who will help you take responsibility for your actions as both individuals and as a couple so that you can identify your mistakes and learn from them.
I certainly don’t have everything figured out, and I’m sure these principles will evolve as I continue to mature, but I think they are a good starting point. In the meantime, I will continue to learn how to model Christ in my life. Preparing for love is important, and after twenty-two years, I think I am finally ready to love because I know He first loved me.