Love Is A Choice
Originally Posted Fall 2012
1. LOVE IS A CHOICE
by David Stewart
How many of you are married and chose your mate because at some time you fell in love with that person? Now that you have been married for a while, are there times when you don’t feel the affection toward your spouse you once did? Are there times when things said or done by your spouse upset you, irritate you, anger you, or cause you to temporarily dislike them? Do you and your spouse always agree amicably about everything?
We tend to think that we love a person in response to their behavior or demeanor because it is pleasing to us. Instead of proactive love that chooses those whom we anoint with our affection, we practice retroactive love that is in response to what we perceive others to be or do. In some languages, like English and German, the phrase we say is “I love you,” which is proactive. In some other languages, like Spanish, they say instead, “You are lovable to me,” which is retroactive.
In the first instance, “you” is the direct object of the proactive verb, “love.” In this manner of speaking, the determining factor in loving is the lover, not the receiver of that love. In the second instance, the expression is in the reflexive form where “love” is not expressed as a verb but as an adjective. “You are lovable” because of something “You do or exhibit.” In the latter instance, the implication is that the determining factor in being loved is the beloved, not the lover.
Of course, regardless of the subtle syntax of one’s native tongue, people tend to let their feelings of love fluctuate with the behavior of the receiver of their affections. But if we condition our love on the behavior of another person, then our love is going to waver from time to time according to the pleasure or displeasure we feel toward that person depending on their latest or current behavior. If that is the nature of our love toward our spouse, or toward anyone else, then it is not true love.
Who is the Initiator of Love?
I say “Love is a choice.” It is a decision. It is an action, not a reaction. Real love is a choice and a decision initiated and controlled by you, the lover, and not a response to the actions of the other person. We don’t wait for the other person to act in an endearing fashion before we give our love.
We give true love because our nature is to be loving. It is an expression of our true selves, and not because of the qualities of the other person. It is not a matter of responding to the loveable or unlovable characteristics of the person toward whom we direct our affections. When we truly choose to love someone, we do so unconditionally no matter what the behavior of the other party now or in the future. Love is not earned. It can only be given freely and freely received.
I am privileged to bask daily in my wife’s love. I don’t deserve it. I didn’t earn it. I have many unlovable qualities, but Lee loves me anyway. Even when she is irritated or upset with something I have said or done, she still loves me. Even if she needs to remind me of some negligence or thoughtless act on my part, she does so with good nature and in love. She made a decision years ago that I would be the man she would love for the rest of her life, for better or for worse, till death do us part and beyond. She said so in our marriage vows over 50 years ago and she has kept those vows in the deepest most spiritual sense.
Like many young people, when they fall in love and first get married, my intentions were good from the very beginning, but I did not have the maturity to live up to my intentions. I, too, took the same vows as did Lee, and as I grew and matured in our marriage relationship, I gradually realized, through my wife’s example, that love is a choice. She has chosen to love me, worthy or not. And I have also gradually become able to return her love on the same unconditional terms.
Negative Emotions Aren’t Fun
I realized a long time ago that harboring anger, annoyance, irritation, resentment, hatred, bitterness, desires for revenge, or extreme dislike are not pleasant experiences and that these feelings are matters of choice on our parts. We choose to be angry, etc. No one makes us be that way. Others may provide the circumstances wherein anger or losing our temper would be justified by human standards, but whether we do or not is a choice, not a mandate. I decided that love, forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, peace, and joy are better and definitely more pleasant. Instead of letting circumstances or the actions of others determine what and how I feel, I decided that with God’s help I could choose all the good feelings. I don’t need the bad ones. They serve no beneficial purpose for me.
Over the years, I have learned to stay tuned to God and keep my peace. I strive to constantly practice the presence of God and to remain even-minded regardless of the turmoil that may be all around me. If I want to have a good day, I can choose it. I don’t have to allow the actions of someone else ruin my happiness.
Choosing positive feelings is not denial of negative ones. When we feel angry, upset, or emotionally disturbed, we must honestly acknowledge our true state of feeling and deal with it, not try to deny or repress it. Although anger can be destructive and hurtful, there are ways to release anger harmlessly. Expressing anger does not have to be destructive and hurtful. It depends on intent.
Anger can be channeled in love with a positive result. Sometimes anger is a necessary expression of God, as seen in Jesus as he drove the unscrupulous money changers from the temple. (Matthew 21:12-13) When Jesus physically forced the dishonest vendors out of the place of worship, he still loved them. Sometimes my wife has to express anger toward me when I deserve it, but I know she still loves me and that I needed her upbraiding to open my eyes and turn me in the right direction. She has often been an instrument of guidance from God to me in that way.
When something my wife says or does that could bother or irritate me, I immediately start affirming repeatedly within myself: “I love her. There is nothing she can say or do that will stop me from loving her. Dear God I thank you for giving me the gift of such a loving wife. God let me think about what she is saying and if she is right, let me change myself and be gracious about it. She’s my wife and I love her. Thank you. Thank you. . . etc.” I try to practice this form of invisible, inner discipline with everyone, not just my wife. By such action within myself, I can stay in a state of love, peace, and joy all the time.
By practicing unconditional love toward my wife, children, and others close to me, I have learned to express that love to everyone I meet. People don’t have to earn my love. I don’t even have to know someone to love them. I simply exude it as I feel God expressing his love for everyone through me. It is a wonderful way to live.
God is Love
True love is Divine love. It is an expression of God’s love. God loves each and every one of his children regardless of their behavior or state of consciousness. The sunshine of his love falls equally upon “the evil and on the good, and he sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) He doesn’t wait until we come to deserve his love or meet certain requirements to earn it. His love is always there for the taking. We have only to learn how to open our hearts to receive it and express it. We are his loving creations and there is nothing we need to do to make him love us and nothing we can do to cause him to stop loving us.
John, the beloved disciple, tells us (1st John 4:16), “God is love; and he that abides in love abides in God, and God in them.” Saint Paul describes the attributes of love for us (1st Corinthians 13:4-8), “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
God’s love for us is the result of his intrinsic nature. As his children, it is our true nature, too. God is love and it is his love that holds all matter and all creation together in manifestation and in order. When God created the universe and everything in it, including us, he chose to do so by the forces of love. To love your spouse and everyone by choice, without condition, you are expressing God’s most essential nature and are in harmony with God and the Universe.
The Apostle John admonishes the early Christians, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1st John 4:7-8)
We don’t have to wait until circumstances or the behaviors of others merit our love. Love is a choice, independent of who or how others may be. That choice is entirely up to us.
What Does Love have to do with Oils?
This newsletter is intended to present information on essential oils and other natural healing therapies. So why are we featuring love in this issue?
The subtitle of my book, “The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple,” is “God’s Love Manifest in Molecules.” The book is based on a number of scriptures as well as scientific data. Essential oils were created by God’s spoken word before he created human beings. Yet the molecules of essential oils fit our cellular receptor sites so perfectly and administer so many benefits to us, I can only conclude that God was thinking ahead to when he planned to created people in his image. Intending that his people would be given free will, he knew they would not always follow the highest health laws and would need medicines to heal them and keep them healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically. Therefore, he began loving us before he even created us. Essential oils are the embodiment of God’s love for us, but we have to study them and be receptive to them in order to receive the grace that he has instilled in them.
Essential oils work on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. Like God, they are “no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) Essential oils don’t make judgments in deciding who may receive their benefits and who may not. They offer their healing powers to anyone willing to receive them, regardless of their social behavior, whether it be as a good person or a bad person. God’s love is like that, freely available to all people, both good and evil. So that is one thing essential oils and love have in common.
For Lack of Love We Perish
The other connection between love and natural healing is that in the final analysis we get sick for lack of love, not that it isn’t available to us, but that we don’t express it in our daily lives. God’s love is constantly shining on each and every one of us. If we don’t receive it and pass it on, that is because we have not made ourselves receptive to it. The channel of our lives has not been cleansed and made open to the flow. God’s grace and affection are available to all of us without our asking or trying to earn it. We just need to be open to it. It is our personal lack of openness to receive his grace that blocks its flow into and through our lives.
The alternative to living lovingly all the time is to harbor non-loving attitudes and inharmonious emotions such as unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, envy, fear, jealousy, hatred, intense dislikes, egotistic pride, desires for revenge or retaliation, etc. These are the emotions that form the root causes of almost all sicknesses and conditions. The antidote to all of these is love, not the love we seek to receive from God and others, but the love that we allow God to express through us to others.
Receiving God’s love and allowing it to flow through us to the world is not a matter of waiting until we “feel” right or until others act in a lovable manner to “deserve” to receive our love. It depends on our willingness to surrender to God and become a channel for him. That is a matter of choice, whenever we choose to let that happen. It is a decision. Although it comes through the heart, love is an act of will and commitment.