I am a bit of a romantic, always have been. I suppose you could call me a sappy sentimental. I cry at commercials, and despite the cheesy storylines, I love Hallmark movies. They are completely unrealistic, totally predictable, and border on silly, but I love them anyway. The romance of new love is all about the little things.
Do you remember? I do. Waterfall walks, picnics in the park, candlelight dinners, flowers for no reason…all of it designed to woo me. It worked btw. The thing about “beginner’s-love” as I call it, is the intentionality of it. All the actions say, “I choose you,” and who doesn’t want to be chosen? We all have a longing to be known and accepted as we are. Those first early dates and times together stir up this longing and we think they will satisfy it, so we move forward. Each step leading to the next. Our hearts are joined and our spirits intertwine. It is beautiful.
But, then comes life. Love is no longer in isolation, but tossed in with jobs, kids, and responsibilities. The unconditional acceptance wains as the differences arise and clash. Feeling chosen takes a back seat to exhaustion. Life amps up the challenges, and the love either crashes and burns, or goes deeper. Deeper, beyond the surface of beginner’s-love, to the bond of deep intimacy. It is no longer defined as “I choose you.” Instead it becomes “I choose love.” When I don’t like you, I choose love. When we fight or annoy one another, I choose love. When life gets hard, I choose love. Love ceases to be a feeling and becomes a choice of dedication. The daily decision to choose love creates a new kind of bond, so very different from the early romance. This bond is transformational.
I choose you. I choose love. Two different ways to look at the way love develops over time. Of course, we know that God is love. So, in choosing love, we are actually choosing him. His ways. Laying down our lives for one another. Encouraging and lifting up instead of tearing down. Deciding not to abandon, but to embrace. This kind of deep love is exquisite, and beyond human ability.
Today marks 33 years of this kind of love for us. I still choose you, Bill Gunnin…and, I still choose love.