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Taking True Love into Your Romantic Relationships

By: Kristen Clark

Somehow she knew he was looking her way. She slowly glanced in his direction to find out. His handsome face smiled at her. Their eyes locked for several long seconds. She shyly smiled back. Invisible sparks flew as butterflies erupted in both of their stomachs.

True love just hit the scene.

Or did it?

The word love comes in all shapes and sizes today.

We, as a culture, use it in a casual moment after we bite into a hot slice of pizza, or a monumental moment as we stand at the altar on our wedding day.

Love.

Such a short, but powerful word. Most of us say the word love in the moments when we’re feeling happy. When the object or person in front of us is making our life better.

Romantic love takes things a step further.

It’s usually portrayed as a powerful emotion that overtakes you and hijacks your brain. Sparks fly and fireworks explode. True love has arrived.

Is this really what love is though? The result of a happy emotion? The tingly feeling in our stomach? An object that satisfies us?

While those things are great and can be a result of love, they’re not the definition of love. And that’s right where mainstream society gets confused.

Most romantic relationships and marriages are built upon the belief that true love should always create happy feelings. Once the happy feelings are gone, love must be gone too. Right? So what happens? They break up or get divorced.

If we, as Christian women, want better results for our romantic relationships, we have to get to the root of what real, true love is.

We have to build our relationships on a strong foundation of God defined love.

God defined love is the polar opposite of most everything we see in our secular society. Why? Because it goes against every fibre of our being.

It runs completely contrary to our self-centered hearts.

Do you know what the most commonly used Greek word for love is in the Bible? Pop quiz time!

  1. Eros
  2. Agape
  3. Phileo

Did you pick agape? If so, nice job! The Greek word, agape, is mentioned 259 times in the Bible. If the Bible repeats something 259 times, we should pay attention.

When we break down the original meaning of this word, its definition is earth shattering.

Are you ready for it? Here it is: “The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice.” Did you catch that last part? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Ouch.

Self-sacrifice.

Isn’t it interesting how much we like the word self when it stands alone, but when it’s tacked onto a word like sacrifice we begin to cringe?

God defined love isn’t built on self, but on a foundation of sacrifice. Love is an action, not an emotional feeling. Self-sacrifice is the action that best displays true biblical love.

The real life story of Ian and Larissa Murphy displays agape love in a powerful way.

They were young and in love.

Their entire future was ahead of them. Everything seemed perfect in their lives and Ian couldn’t wait to propose to Larissa. Then suddenly, without any warning, something drastic changed their lives forever. Ian was involved in a head on vehicle collision. His body was crushed. His brain was damaged.

Against all odds, Ian pulled through and survived the terrible accident, but his brain would never be the same. Ian could no longer function independently. This is where the power of agape love hits the scene with full force.

Instead of abandoning Ian because of his serious brain injury, Larissa did the unimaginable.

She married him.

She abandoned her dreams of a “perfect life” and instead chose to sacrificially serve the man she loved.

True love. That’s it. Right there.

Larissa chose self-sacrifice over self-pleasure. She put true love into action. Sure, it was really hard at times. Sure, she wasn’t always “happy,” but she was devoted. True love doesn’t crumble when life gets tough, it perseveres.

I love how this quote describes it. “Love is best seen as devotion and action, not an emotion. Love is not exclusively based on how we feel. Certainly our emotions are involved, but they cannot be our only criteria for love. True devotion will always lead to action—true love.”

We, as Christian women, must allow God to define our view of love.

Christ was the ultimate example of sacrificial love and He calls us to love others in the same way.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love [agape], as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV).

Whether married or single, agape love is God’s solution to vibrant, lasting relationships.

True love is agape love.

Okay – I have a question for my single sisters out there! Please share your thoughts with me below: In what ways has our culture’s “fireworks version” of true love influenced your personal view of love?

Now I have two questions for my married sisters! In what ways have you put true (sacrificial) love into action in your marriage? What advice do you have for single girls on how they can practice showing agape love now?

Let’s chat below!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com | 8571427Guy and girl

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  • Elizabeth

    Like you said, the world doesn’t encourage Biblical love. I feel instead that is tells a girl to get what she can out of a relationship. Have a good time and run when you’re done. No commitments. That seems to be the world’s message.

  • Jacey Faith

    This was a great post! Its defiantly a struggle to be self-sacrificing…I struggle with it daily. Thank you for the reminder. Every article that comes out seems to have been posted just when I needed it:D Thanks!!!!

  • Elizabeth Williams

    What the world portrays is a relationship that you can get something out of. Also, having a good time. That’s why it’s hard for me as a single girl who’s never been in a relationship to imagine being married. I can picture it if I think about what is portrayed in movies, where they fall for each other, get married, and live the picture-perfect life the rest of their lives. But I know that’s not reality! One thing that I’ve heard married couples say is that marriage is a lot of work. It’s a lot of sacrifice and humility and devotion. I can see myself falling in love and getting married, but I can’t see myself living with that same person the REST of my LIFE. I guess that’s something I just haven’t experienced yet to understand, true love.

  • Annika Smith

    This makes me think of a quote/story I saw once on Pinterest. A reporter asked an elderly couple who’d been married some 60 years what their secret was. They replied, “We grew up in an era where if something was broken, you didn’t throw it away. You fixed it.” I probably got the exact quote wrong but you get the idea. Love HAS come to mean only an emotion, but emotions are so fickle! It isn’t any wonder that without commitment and self-sacrifice, relationships fall apart.

  • From God’s word a list of what love is and is not 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  • Celtic Princess

    One of the things I have noticed myself struggling with lately is the idea that, in a romantic relationship, it is more romantic when neither person knows whether they deserve/can have parts of a relationship (hugging, kissing, and more), so there is an air of ‘breaking down barriers’ and ‘stealing firsts’ rather than a wholesome relationship between a couple with well defined boundaries, saving things for the time when they are sure they may engage in physical activity without guilt. In lots of movies, guilt is portrayed as fun (and even sexy), and the revealing of past guilt is a time at which the actions are usually praised, pasted over, or just ‘forgiven and forgotten’, but it is never portrayed as sin, but as ‘bad choices’ or ‘regrets’. It’s easy to have an attitude that, ‘maybe I’ll regret it, but it’s my regret to have’ rather than, ‘this is sinful and, while God (and hopefully my future husband) will forgive me, I will never be able to undo it.’

    • Elisabeth

      Your Very Right!!Tv laughter at on makes it seem like and on and off relationship where the just seem like friends or barely for each other except for rare occasions of emotional feelings and they go around with just about every biddy else the rest of the time or at least one might .Is Not a healthy view on relationships, now some things they do might be sweet the might be a very good looking paire, and have great character and virtues except for the are of love .That’s how we aught to judge weather it is fit to watch or not.Trust me it’s not easy even when all I basically watch is old stuff.

  • Azi

    Anyone read “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis? I think what has influenced my personal view of love is that the “fireworks” version isn’t BAD…but it’s not necessary to have a fulfilling life. It can be one of the most powerful things in the world, though, and I think that’s fascinating.

    I think having lots of examples of Eros in modern society shaped my views, which is great…but there’s always this idea of “it’ll come someday” when it doesn’t HAVE to. If it does, great, but Eros is just one tiny, despite being rather marvelous, fraction of what LOVE is.

    • wrose

      I’ll have to check this out. My thing is though, if there isn’t any sort of excited feelings in a relationship, then it shouldn’t be a marriage. Because now people are marrying for other reasons that they don’t actually need. Such as financial help, or just so they’re not alone. If there isn’t “fireworks”, then you’re marrying a friend that you love. Which I guess is FINE but why does someone HAVE to marry their friend? I’m just not understanding all of this. We shouldn’t feel so desperate for marriage that we marry someone that we never feel fireworks for. There are neighbors, coworkers, professors, authority figures, the guy you share all of your dark secrets with but have no interest in ever kissing, the girl you share all of your dark secrets with and also have no interest in kissing, the stock boy at the grocery store. Out of all of those people, which one should you be marrying? None. Because they all serve a specific purpose in your life and none of them are meant to be your marriage mate (unless one day they spark some fireworks in your, it turns out you spark fireworks in them, and there you go. That’s the person you should see about marrying and maybe making a baby with).

      • Azi

        Totally get you. Absolutely, no one should say fireworks are bad! In fact they should be there if that’s what gets you closer to someone (and, what I really hope, even closer after getting married). But I think the point of the post was that a genuine marriage has to be sustained with a willingness to will good and give good to one’s spouse, even when fireworks aren’t there on days. Most genuine marriages, from what I understand, abide by this philosophy.

  • Elyonara Borges

    Thank you! I needed it! 😉

  • wrose

    I don’t understand why there is such emphasis on “butterflies in their stomachs” upon first sight. I’ve had a lot of infatuations and unrequited “loves”, and I can tell you butterflies don’t usually happen just because your eyes land on someone that’s cute. The butterflies happen after you start thinking of that person and getting excited over them. Not usually from the very first glance. I keep reading that and I think it’s a bit ridiculous.


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