I once wrote a poem called “Reel life” about the kind of love that is portrayed on the big screen, that thrives solely on chemistry. The chiseled guy, who sizzles and fizzles, the scene ending with the lovers kissing in the drizzling rain and then the caption – THE END… But it’s not really the end is it? It’s actually the beginning. The beginning of a journey initiated by a decision – TO LOVE.
One day while having a conversation with my friend who has been married for over thirty years, I listened to him in amazement as he asked me speak to his wife because they had grown apart, and were struggling in their marriage. STRUGGLING?! I knew these people! I had seen them both up close and personal, and I felt that they had a good thing going on all around, but there we were that day… They loved each other that I was sure of, but still I knew from his demeanor that this was a break or make point for them… What did one say in a situation like that?
I turned to my friend and I said (I, the yet to be married one): “you know something I’ve come to realize? Love is not something one feels, it’s a decision one makes, determining not to give oneself an ‘out.'” “The moment one decides there that might be an ‘out’, love ceases to grow and will eventually die.” How did I arrive at this deep-seated and wise conclusion? From the originator of love himself – who made a decision to love without giving himself an ‘out’. GOD in the form of Christ; who even in the face of intense agony and terror went through a horrific crucifixion, Because HE HAD MADE THE DECISION TO LOVE, without recourse to rescind… For God so loved the world that he gave and gave and gave, all the way to death.
Love, He said is not based on reciprocity, it’s a decision to act, with or without reciprocity. When that decision is met by another’s decision to do the same, It becomes a beautiful and eternally cataclysmic fusion that allows an alloyed connection to be formed.
I once told a friend: ‘There is nothing you could ever do to me that would offend me’ my friend said to me: wow …. That’s deep, but do you think that is possible? Yes, I answered ‘because I have made the decision NEVER to be offended at you’. Did he ever hurt me? Ever annoy me? Was I ever be tempted to be offended? Yes to all those questions… But many years have passed since I made that statement, and never once have I been offended. Why? Because it was a decision that I MADE…. Well, one might say that I made the decision in the context of friendship and not an intimate love relationship, but I submit to you that the principles of love remain the same across the spectrum of a friend through lover, to lifelong soul mate…
Jonathan in the Bible made a decision to love David and the Bible records that their souls were knit together…
I Sam 18:1-4
Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt. So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war.
… And even though Jonathan knew in his heart that he would not be king because for David to succeed Saul as king he – Jonathan must die, it did not affect his love for David. He made a decision to LOVE, he STRIPPED HIMSELF of his armor and GAVE it to David – the epitome of selflessness in the face of a higher purpose. Looking at the components of armor: Helmet (of salvation), breastplate (of righteousness), girdle (of truth), sword (of the spirit), feet shod (with good news), shield (of faith), it mirrors what love does – covers us and shields us from harm. And in this context, What Jesus did for us entirely mirrors what Jonathan did for David…. He made a decision to love us, He stripped himself of his glory and gave it to us, his soul being knit to ours in covenant… Wow!
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
The sages characterized the relationship between Jonathan and David in the following Mishnah:
“Whenever love depends on some selfish end when the end passes away, the love passes away, but if it does not depend on some selfish end, it will never pass away. Such love that depended on a selfish end was the love of Amnon had for Tamar, And which did not depend on a selfish end? This was the love of David and Jonathan. (Avot 5:15)
The crux of the matter is this:
Love is a decision, not a feeling
Love is not dependent on reciprocity
Love strips of oneself, and willingly gives to another
Love gives no option to rescind
Love exists for the purpose of giving life to
And through another.
Any surprise that the giving in the act of love results both in the rejuvenation and giving of life?
Who gives one the power to love? It is love, Himself.
Phil 2: 6-13
Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
God works in us to will and to do when we make a decision to obey him.
LOVE – A beautiful, complex, deep, self-stripping, giving, offering which when truly given, results in indescribable Glory!
So in conclusion, do I have a simple answer? No, but I have the principle. May God help me to work at love and may God help us all to walk in love, that as we all make that decision to love it will be met with reciprocity, ignited by covenant, and fueled by divinity…
PS this was a difficult one to write, as I surely have not come to grasp its full implication… maybe I never will… But I decide daily to continue to love…. SO HELP ME GOD…
The end is said
The credits roll
Hearts forever joined as one
Riding off, sunset rich
Just where am I?
Oh ’twas just a reel
In no manner real
Representation of life surreal
If only it were really real
The end revealed
Reel life divine
The lights come up
Real life begins.