Monday, July 2, 2012

Part 8-What Is Love?

Things were going really well. Almost too well. So in typical over-analytical female fashion, I began to wonder if something might be wrong. I had started thinking about what love was late in the fall but the whole idea scared me something fierce. How would I know if Steve was "the one"? How would I know if we were really meant to be bound together forever in marriage? The more I thought about it, the more scared and confused I got. And before I knew it, I was tying myself up in knots of frustration and doubt.

One day I finally had the courage to talk to Steve about it. I knew I liked him a lot and things were so great between us. We were quickly becoming the best of friends and there was no question that there was major chemistry between us. But how would I know for sure if he was the one for me? And what did it mean to love someone? Was it just fireworks all the time or was it a steady flame? I was so inexperienced in this area and had no clue what love even was. I was only 19. I didn't know if my feelings were strong enough or good enough to be love, or if love was even a feeling at all.
As all of these concerns came spilling out of me Steve grabbed my hand and said some of the most freeing and clarifying words anyone has ever spoken to me. He said, "Nikki, love comes down to a choice. It doesn't depend on your feelings because they can change over time and we are all imperfect people who do things that are unlovable. You choose to love someone, commit to it and then you trust God to fill in the gaps. He gives you what you need to keep going."

Those words made sense to me; a lot of sense and they gave me hope that I was on the right track. But I still didn't know how I was supposed to tell if he was the "one" for me. That's when Steve replied, "I don't think there is one particular person out there. I think God says, 'Here are my boundaries. Choose whatever you like within these walls.' It's like going into an ice cream shop and saying, 'Do I want vanilla or chocolate?' God tells us, 'Just don't choose the sherbet because it's not as good as the real stuff and I want what's best for you. Choose among the ice cream but, choose whatever flavor you want.' " He then concluded his analogy with a smile on his face, "I guess you might say I'm a vanilla. Not as suave as a chocolate, but still classic."

I understood what he was saying and it really clicked. I still struggled with doubt at times after our talk but as time went on and we talked about it more, I began to understand more about life and love. Love wasn't a feeling; it was a choice. Sure romance brought feelings with it but the decision to love lasted for a lifetime. I also understood that I didn't need to berate myself over whether or not I was making a good choice. Steve was an amazing man, totally worthy of my love. He was a solid Christian and he had integrity. He had the essentials. I had chosen well and there wasn't anything to be afraid of. From that time on, I began to trust what was right and as I did, my fears slowly began to fade.

* * * * 

After talking with Steve, I definitely felt better about things. However, a couple of conversations with godly women in my life helped too. One was with a mentor of mine from San Luis Obispo who had been married for some time and she was someone I respected tremendously. I thought that once I told her my fears about love and what it meant, that she would tell me I hadn't found the right person. But instead, she told me quite the opposite. She explained, like Steve, that love comes down to a choice and that in marriage, that choice lays the foundation needed to build love on. God does the building, we just commit to keep going. And at times when we can't keep going, He helps us. This talk, and her apparent understanding of my fears, really helped me work through what it meant to commit to someone on a more serious level.
Megan, an older girl in LSM who just meant the world to me, also helped me understand more about what love was. She was close to being engaged at this point and she told me that she too had worked through the same feelings I had. That was so freeing to me because I thought maybe I was the only one and that something was wrong with me. During our talk she handed me a copy of a letter written to her by a mentor of hers back home. That letter became a cornerstone of understanding for me, for many years to come. I read it over and over and over again (I still have it). It was written to Megan when she was where I was and her mentor had really stressed the importance of choosing a mate who loved God more than anything and then trusting God to keep the commitment to love over the years. She talked about how the heart is deceitful and can't be trusted. When it is fickle, it's fickle. But God can be trusted and He alone can keep a marriage together, not feelings. This letter, written by a lady I did not even know, totally revolutionized my understanding about love.

Another mentor and running partner from camp that I adored, who had been married for years, also reiterated all of these truths to me as well encouraging me to trust God and commit my love to Him. Her tender understanding of where I was at spoke volumes to me and I really internalized the wisdom she was imparting. I was amazed at how all of these women, within a short period of time, really shaped my understanding of committed love. I wanted to learn. I wanted to understand but, I had no experience and no real foundation. But through various talks with Steve and these incredible women, I began to become more confident that God had designed love to be a commitment and that the feelings would accompany it most of the time, but then at times, they wouldn't. And when they weren't there, that was okay too. All of these conversations took place over Fall Quarter. God was preparing my heart for what was to come. I had no idea at the time, but His timing is perfect. It always is.

No comments:

Post a Comment