Love. Amore. What is it? Does it happen at first sight? Do you only get one great love per lifetime? How do YOU know love?
To me love is a deep, abiding faith in and commitment to someone. I also believe that love is an action, being in love is a feeling. I can be in love with something or someone, but if that fades then I clearly did not love it or him/her because I have not remained committed.
Love as an emotion is fleeting ... I can love peanut butter today but detest it tomorrow (and possibly forevermore) because I had a stomach virus around the same time I ate it.
Committed love is an action.
When I met my first husband, I never loved him. I was in love with him when I met him and loved the future I thought he was going to be able to provide me. He never loved me either. Neither one of us was ever committed to each other, that was obvious in the destruction of our marriage.
When I met Rick, I loved him instantly. We started our relationship with some hardships, but I knew I was going to be committed to him despite those and others we might face because I loved him. I started taking action to show him that I loved him. The in love portion of our marriage has come and gone a few times, I will admit. Here is a shocker .. he has flaws and so do I. But it has never changed how much I love him. I have faith in him, despite his flaws, and am committed to be his wife until death do us part, regardless of what happens in our marriage. Thankfully I do not have to love my husband in drudgery or out of duty. He is a wonderful man and I respect him and am so grateful to him for all he does for our family. He loves me so, so much and shows me in little and big ways all the time. He knows my love language and uses it to show me love. (See, an action.)
Which brings me to the love languages. I believe in Gary Chapman's love languages whole-heartedly! My love language is Acts of Service. If you want me to know you love me, pick up your dirty laundry or clean my kitchen. Ahhh ... my heart smiles! Rick's love languages are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch, which are the total opposite of mine. I would like to say that I show Rick love in his love language consistently, but I do not. It's much easier to show love in your own love language so I am just sure that at the end of the day he knows how much he is loved because I have cooked him a good meal and taken such good care of his home and children. Not so. I am sure Rick feels unloved at times from me because I fail in loving him in his love language. I try to do better, but I fail often.
This brings up my point of love being an action. I can tell him all day long how much I love him, but if I am not filling his tank in the ways that he feels loved, then he doesn't believe my words. (I sure am glad we got this question this week so I can be reminded of all of this.)
But love isn't just about our spouses. It's also about our kids and family members and the world. Our children and family members have love languages, too. It is helpful to know them.
We can say we love children in Africa all we want but if we aren't doing something for them, they do not know it.
You can end a phone conversation with your children every day with the words 'I love you', but if you haven't backed up your words with actions then your words are empty and they don't believe them.
Saying the words are important! I do not discount that. But the words start to become hollow after a while if they are not support with our actions of love.
I don't believe you have one great love of your lifetime, because that has all to do with your attitude and perspective on love. Love is a choice. It is a daily choice, minute-by-minute, in fact. It requires sacrifice (and lots of it), the biting of your tongue (sometimes until it bleeds), a dedication to someone who makes you want to kick something or pull your own hair out at times, and a heart for God and His ways and a desire to love as He has commanded. None of that is easy if we are relying on feelings alone.
So get out there and love your people.