Choosing Love Despite Response
It’s more commonly said these days that “love is a choice“. And rightfully so. Love is definitely a choice we make. Daily. Love is an action. And actions require intentionality. Thus, love is a choice we get to make. Whether in giving or receiving, loving well requires us to choose. To choose love. Always. When it’s exciting and when it’s terrifying. When it’s undoubtably a “yes” and when it’s a painful “no”. When it feels good and when it’s cold raw reality.
Love is intentional. Love is kind. Love is fierce. It doesn’t hold the need to be right. It’s doesn’t thrive on having the last word. Love doesn’t compromise. Love speaks up for others; but not against. Love is pursuing. Love is patient. Love takes the initiative. Love chooses peace. Love knows how to rest. Love doesn’t give up, let go, or quit. Love has a powerful yes, and no. Love is committed. Love shows respect. Love is rooted in honor. Love sees beyond the visible. Love doesn’t operate from a place of fear. Love isn’t always comfortable. Love is safe. Love manages it’s time well. Love values excellence. Love is visionary. Love respects boundaries. Love is generous. Love is soft spoken, yet loud. Love doesn’t “one-up” others. Love doesn’t look down on itself. Love is steady. Love is loyal. Love creates a home.
One of the most powerful things about love is CHOICE. Love is a choice. In every situation in life, I get to choose love. In every relationship I have, I get to choose love. In every conflict, I get to choose love. In every victory, I get to choose love. In tragedy, in failure, in moments of extreme pain and uncertainty, I get to choose love. I get to choose to be a woman who loves well. I get to choose love–to respond in love, with love, and as love.
As a woman who is committed to being intentional about living a life of loving well…. I get to CHOOSE to love people regardless of whether or not they will love me in return. (If you don’t get anything else I have said in this article, please hear this one statement.) It sounds a bit painful and honestly, sometimes it’s IS. Never the less, It’s actually the privilege of love.
The privilege of love is that we get to choose love itself. Really choosing love is choosing to love with no agenda. Love doesn’t allow strings to be attached. Love is not contingent upon response. Love isn’t determined by the lack of rejection. Love doesn’t require agreement or approval. The measure of expressed love doesn’t rely on the one it’s being given to.
Is it nice to be loved in return? Is it nice receiving an equal or even greater reciprocation? Is it nice when your love and expression of love is rightfully celebrated? Absolutely! Loving is beautiful. Being loved is beautiful! I can’t imagine us arguing the fact that being loved in return, especially in extravagance, is a sweet gift we were all made to experience on a regular basis.
Even still, there are times where reciprocation isn’t guaranteed. When the response you’re looking forward to isn’t ensured. There’s a chance they won’t appreciate your love or even want it. In these moments, choosing love can be painful. It’s often exhausting. It’s even more often overlooked. Most people around you won’t get to see this choice of yours. It’s a choice made in secret and relationship with God. He’s our model and demonstrator for how effective choosing love can be to those around us. It’s a matter of the heart. It’s not necessarily in the words that we speak or the actions we make. He’s where we learn to choose love.
Relationships, of any kind, are one of the hardest areas in life when it comes to intentionally choosing love. It’s also the most powerful. It’s easy to like, love, and pursue someone when you know they feel the same way. When you know they love and value you..just as much, if not more, than you value them. Knowing this seemingly removes the risk of rejection, misunderstanding, abandonment, and pain. “If I knew they felt the same way then I’d make a move. I’d be more intentional. I would be more vulnerable. I would allow myself to be seen. I’d be willing to give more of myself.” Or, “If I knew they’d say ‘yes’.. If only I knew how they felt. If I could just know what they want. If I knew I couldn’t fail..” The list goes on.
This is a “safe-zone” that many powerful people often hide in. Where the odds of being rejected are severely limited due to the lack of risk. It’s also the place where we hand over our power to the outcome and results while we stand by powerlessly waiting in the land of “IF”.
But wait. Love doesn’t withhold itself. Love doesn’t hide. Does it? If love truly doesn’t limit itself based upon the response of others than this type of attitude towards love is hindering us severely. This is fear masked as “wisdom”. This isn’t an example of “choosing love”, but one of submitting to fear. Being dangerously surrendered to fear.
And that, my love, is scary! We are not called to be people who hide in the face of fear, determining every move of love based on the response or approval of others. No, no, no. We get to choose love! Every moment. Every day.
We get to be the ones who say, “regardless of how you treat me, respond, answer, approve, etc., I am choosing to be a woman/man of love. And it’s in my nature to extend love. Whether you choose to love me or not, I choose to love you. Just because you exist. It’s actually the privilege of my life to be someone who loves well. And I choose to spend this privilege on you. You’re worth my love. Even if you don’t love me like I hoped you would or expected you to–I get to choose to love you. Unrestrained. Extravagantly. Without limits.”
I choose love.
So if we believe that love truly is a choice then the question is, “are we willing to pay the price of what seems like a sacrifice: loving people so radically that our love is not limited by their acceptance or reciprocation”? Is being someone who loves well enough of a reward for us? Is the fruit of loving well enough to draw us into a lifestyle of being ones who choose love? Will we be conscience of love–consciences of choice? In every situation or season of life, will we be the ones who choose to love with the deepest, purest, and truest kind of love? It’s risky. It’s sacrificial. It’s extravagant. It’s powerful. It’s unconditional. It is LOVE.
“If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.”
—W.H. Auden, “The More Loving One”