Intentional Love

“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance. Love will never come to an end.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

I’ve been thinking about love because so many of the people I see in couple therapy say, “I am not in love with my husband/my wife anymore. I’m not sure I ever was in love with them.” The relationship is in crisis because they don’t feel the way they did initially and they think that is what love is all about – a feeling that no longer exists.

A friend once said to me, “Every morning I have to decide again that I want to be married.” Perhaps this is more what love is about. I believe it is a conscious decision, an intention, an action. If we think of love as an intention, it is easy to see that we can show love toward our partner, our friend, even a stranger. We can send the love we have received from God toward another. I choose to love this person, whatever that means at this moment. Perhaps it means giving them space to sort through their own emotions or struggle with an issue; perhaps it means loving them in spite of their actions. It does not mean to me being a door mat or being abused. It means being connected, but also being able to be separate.

Bringing It Home:
1. Where in your life is it hard to love? Where in your life do you need to let go of your own expectations and be able to give another the space to be whoever they are at this moment?

2. Where do you need to love yourself and realize you are all you are capable of being right now?

3. Where do you need to reach out and receive God’s love for you? Where will you see God’s love for you today?

Almighty God, you are the God of love. You seek to love me more than I can receive. Help me to open my heart to receive your love and to then to give that love to those people whom you put in my life. Thank you, God, for creating me in your image with the capacity to give and receive love. Amen.

Gretchen White Janssen, D. Min.
Creative Living Counseling Center, Allendale, NJ

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