Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Love Dare - Day 14

Love Takes Delight "Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life." – Ecclesiastes 9:9 HCSB

One of the most important things you should learn on your Love Dare journey is that you should not just follow your heart. You should lead it. You don’t let your feelings and emotions do the driving. You put them in the back seat and tell them where you’re going.

In your marriage relationship, you won’t always feel like loving. It is unrealistic for your heart to constantly thrill as the thought of spending every moment with your spouse. Nobody can maintain a burning desire for togetherness just one feelings alone. But it’s also difficult to love someone only out of obligation.

A newlywed takes delight in the one they now call their spouse. Their love is fresh and young, and the hopes for a romantic future linger in their hearts. However, there is something just as powerful as that fresh, new love. It comes from the decision to delight in your spouse and to love him or her no matter how long you’ve been married. In other words, love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love that feels like loving. In many ways, it’s a truer love because it has its eyes wide open.

Left to ourselves, we’ll always lean toward being disapproving of one another. She’ll get on your nerves. He’ll aggravate you. But our days are too short to waste in bickering over pretty things. Life is too fleeting for that.

Instead, it’s time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate. Enjoy your spouse. Take her hand and seek her companionship. Desire his conversation. Remember why you fell in love with her personality. Accept this person – quirks and all – and welcome him or her back into your heart.

Again, you get to choose what you treasure. It’s not like you’re born with certain pre-sets and preferences you’re destined to operate from. If you’re irritable, it’s because you choose to be. If you can’t function without a clean house, it’s because you’ve decided no other way will do. If you pick at your mate more than you praise them, it’s because you’ve allowed your heart to be selfish. You’ve led yourself into criticism.

So now it’s time to lead your heart back out. It’s time to learn to delight in your spouse again, then to watch your heart actually start enjoying who they are.

It may surprise you to know that the Bible contains many romantic love stories, none more blatant and provocative than all eight chapters from the Song of Solomon. Listen to the way these two lovers take pleasure in one another in this poetic book …

The woman: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song of Solomon 2:3-4).

The man: “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along! O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway, let me see your form, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:13-14).

Too sappy? Too mushy? Not for those who lead their heart to delight in their beloved – even when the new wears off, even when she’s wearing rollers in her hair, even when his hair is falling out. It’s time to remember why you once fell in love. To laugh again. To flirt again. To dream again. Delightfully.

Today’s dare may be directing you to a real and radical change of heart. For some, the move toward delight may be only a small step away. For others, it may require a giant leap from ongoing disgust.

But if you’ve been delighted before – which you were when you married – you can be delighted again. Even if it’s been a long time. Even if a whole lot has happened to change your perceptions.

The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you’ve promised yourself forever.

Today’s Dare: Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on. Just to be together.

"Give me your heart … and let your eyes delight in my ways." - Proverbs 23:26

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group.

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