This guest post from Tabitha Caplinger (who reinvigorated my usage of the term "rocks socks") is spot-on. Love takes work and effort, and sometimes, it really does look like emptying the dishwasher.
Love is a Verb, by Tabitha Caplinger
Okay, so I am about to show my age just a little bit. I was a fan of Tobymac when he was part of DC Talk. Not just during the Jesus Freak era (which was awesome) but from the very beginning, I’m talking the Yo! Tour. I still have an autographed picture where Michael Tate had kid n’ play hair. So, anyway, one of the songs from their third album (which I had as a cassette tape) was titled, Luv is a Verb. The point was that love isn’t something you feel, it's something you do. That’s not as mind-blowing of a notion now as it was to me as a teenager. But maybe it is still something we don’t quite understand. But it’s not just an early 90s Christian rap song, it’s a biblical concept.
John 13:34 ESV
God commands us to love. He can’t command something that is an emotional reaction. He can command something that is action. Love is about doing. We have reduced it to just feeling.
In our relationships, with ourselves, even with God, love is about how we feel. Do I get the warm fuzzies? If there aren’t any goosebumps then can I be sure it's love?
Wanting goosebumps and butterflies and warm fuzzies is fine, but it's also selfish. Why? Because for us to feel those things, someone else has to be doing the work. That’s also not a bad thing until there is a day when they don’t do the work we think they should do. Then suddenly we don’t feel the love anymore and the relationship grows weaker.
We have to take ownership of love. If we want to feel it, if we want other people to see it then we have to own it by changing the way we view love and choosing to put it into action.
We need to commit to love in our relationships, our marriages, even on days we don’t feel like loving. Let’s be honest, there are days when those romantic, butterfly feelings just aren’t a part of my marriage. But love has not left the house. It may look different. It may look like emptying the dishwasher rather than buying flowers. Or picking up dirty laundry rather than a candlelit dinner. Those romantic things are important but it's unrealistic to make them the standard for my marriage. My husband and I choose to show love to each other in a variety of ways. We also choose to see love in those little actions instead of always needing the big gestures or flowery words.
We need to commit to love ourselves. This is about action, not feelings. That can be difficult when we talk about self-image because it’s totally dependent on us. That’s right, no one, outside of Jesus, can help you to love yourself. Not really. We have to choose to show ourselves love. We have to choose to view ourselves through the eyes of our Creator. We have to choose to believe what His Word says about us. (PS: it says that you are beautifully and wonderfully made, it says that you are His beloved and there is no flaw in you…I could go on.) We have to choose to talk to ourselves with love and acceptance rather than letting our own minds defeat us. You have to do this everyday, long before you genuinely feel it. But the feelings will come because of your commitment to intentional action in your own mind and heart.
We need to commit to love God. If you’re a believer this seems like a no brainer. But we tend to say we love God and not act like we love God. God’s love for us is all about action. Our love for him should be no less. We need to be doing, not just talking. We need to love God by choosing to spend time with Him. We need to love God by choosing to talk about Him. We need to love God by choosing to love others. Trust me, some days you won’t feel like it. You won’t feel like sitting down and opening your Bible, you won’t feel like showing kindness or grace. But genuine love goes beyond our own feelings into the realm of action.
Action is what will make all the difference, in your own life and in the lives of others.
As a final thought I will leave you with the epic words of DC Talk. (And the knowledge that I can rap it on beat, and am, right now.)
About Tabitha Caplinger
Tabitha Caplinger has been in student ministry for close to 15 years, and currently pastors at Faith Community Church in House Springs, Missouri with her husband Brian. They have two sassy daughters, Lila and Rory. Student Ministry is core to who Tabitha is; she loves discipling others and helping them see themselves through Jesus’ eyes. Her goal is for every young woman to be confident that, “she is loved more than she will ever know by someone who died to know her.” When not working, Tabitha and her family like taking in a good movie or walking through the park. She also admits to being a little obsessed with TV.
Connect with her online: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads
Read More from Tabitha in The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline
Zoe thought the loss of her parents would be the most difficult thing she’d ever have to endure. When she began seeing things she couldn’t explain in her new home of Torchcreek, Virginia, she was sure the grief was driving her mad. Instead Zoe discovers she is part of an ancient bloodline, one destined to defeat the powers of darkness from condemning the world. But Zoe, the daughter of the three, isn’t just another descendant–she’s the key to humanity’s salvation.
In this first installment of the Christian fantasy trilogy The Chronicle of the Three, Zoe Andrews learns that not all shadows are harmless interceptions of light. Some are a more sinister darkness that wants to torment the soul.
Get it here: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iTunes