11yrs ago I chose to love… what I mean by that is that I chose to acknowledge that the feelings in my heart were consistent with what I understood love to be, and then I chose to externalise those feelings- I told someone that I loved them, and that I would like them to consider spending the rest of their life in close enough proximity to me, and in a formalised relationship that we might live together and be married to each other.
Fortunately for me I didn’t use any of those exact words, and my girlfriend at the time (who was a modern languages teacher) understood what I was trying to express. And we married each other. And we chose to love each other every day, and we still do. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Almost 8yrs ago I found myself loving again… this time with no conscious decision. Its possible that the sleep deprivation had something to do with it, or hormones or whatever. But when my daughter popped into the world she also popped into my heart, and she has stayed there forever. I didn’t make a choice, and I never felt like that was an option. Interestingly, her appearance in my heart didn’t exclude my wife- somehow my heart had room for them both. And for our second and third children as they’ve appeared over the years… but I never chose to love them. I just did, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus tells his followers to love their neighbours, and in this passage in Matthew 5, to love their enemies… one is easy, the other much harder. It’s really easy to go out of your way and do things to help people you like, people you have stuff in common with, people who’ve been there for you and you know will be in the future. It’s not so easy to do the same for those who you disagree with, who have put you down or make you feel weak, who know the buttons to push and do so… But that is the measure of great love- Love the ones you find it hard to. Put yourselves out for the idiot or the pain in the neck. Keep on opening the door… one day they may walk through it without laughing at you… And in the meantime, you are showing them unconditional love- you’re showing that they don’t have to earn your regard, in fact that they can’t. You’re showing the kind of love that God has shown…
For God so loved the world (that he had brought into being)
that has sent his one and only Son (who was willing to go)
so that anyone who believed in him (not just his existence but his life)
would not die (not in the final ending of all life way that we fear and shy away from)
but have eternal life (I don’t quite know what that means, but I like the sound of it).
So today I choose love. I choose to love those around me, whatever may come.