the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
Ah, February - the time of year when a young man's fancy turns to chocolate - er, I mean, love. Actually a young man's fancy may turn to both love and chocolate since a typical Valentines day gift to one's sweetheart is a box of chocolates. Now, the chocolate part is pretty easy: you get what you pay for. So when buying a heart shaped box of chocolates, spend as much as your budget will allow. That way, you'll be sure to have only the best when your sweetie says she's overjoyed with the gift, but really, she has to watch her weight and so you end up eating most of the chocolates yourself.
Love on the other hand is a bit more difficult. These days love is considered an emotion, a good feeling - which most often finds its expression in bed (or the back seat of a car or wherever). And the truth is that sex has been largely divorced from love now-a-days anyway and so what's left when we consider love is just a feeling. Thus folks fall in and out of "love" - in and out of bed - rather frequently in our day and age. The result is hurt that is often carried for a lifetime.
But the fact is that love is much more than a feeling. Certainly emotion is part of the mix - but that's just one of the ingredients. The emotion we call love is often present by itself; however, it requires the other components of love in order to be complete.
For instance, true love includes an element of patience. No, that's not really forceful enough. It's more accurate to say that true love will suffer a long time because of, or on behalf of, the one you love. For example, if you really love someone you'll be ready to put up with the worst thing about them no matter what it is. At the same time you'll be willing to endure slights, gossip, rejection or whatever else because of your commitment to the one you love. And you'll be willing to suffer through either situation indefinitely.
Another ingredient of true love is kindness. This element is active as opposed to passive (putting up with something). Kindness is a friendly, "useful" part of love which looks for ways to make life a little better for the object of your affection.
You may think that after putting up with and putting out for someone you would have the right to cut back a bit and expect a little of the same treatment in return. However, a third item in true love is a lack of envy. If you really love someone you won't begrudge the good things that come their way even if you're not getting "your fair share.”
All of this makes love sound like a lot of work. Where's the romance (and pleasure), in that? Well, we're talking about love here, remember? There is romance and pleasure aplenty for those who are truly in love. Think of the old tales of romantic love. There was always a component of sacrifice - of tragedy. The truth is, they weren't too far off the mark.