People Will Say We’re in Love

I went out to eat with a guy friend the other night, and as we sat across from each other we talked about our classes at the college, and our lives, and what we were doing in our spare time… all the things we aren’t able to catch up on when the business of the day intrudes.  I explained to him a few things that had happened in my own life, people I was interacting with and situations that I had been in, and he gave me some advice in those areas.  His perspective as a guy involved things I never would have thought of if he hadn’t spoken.  “Do you really think that?”  I asked him, somewhat indignant since the topic was one that I held dear.  “Well, I’m just telling it to you as a friend and as a guy,” he said.  “That’s how it seems to be to me.”

As I thought about the things he said over the next few days, the more true they seemed.  I had never thought of my situation from a guy’s perspective before — other than my father’s — and it was interesting to see it through the eyes of my friend, whose genuine concern for my well being and happiness guided what he told me. 

Now that’s a friendship.  As I sat poking at my salad before heading off to a night class, I looked at my table companion and smiled.  How wonderful to have a friend like this, who would tell me the truth out of care — but would never deceive me about his feelings.  He has never been ambiguous when it comes to our relationship – or lack thereof.  “Phylicia,” he had said.  “We’re friends, and both our families know that, so we should be able to do things together on that basis.  There’s no pressure for anything more — and I like it that way.” 

I like it that way too.  The stability of our friendship lies in the fact that both of us have obligations elsewhere — to family, work, church and studies.  We have no obligations to each other.  We have no pressures and emotions to deal with.  We have no jealousies over each other’s friends of the opposite sex.  When we meet, we enjoy the time that we have together — and the rest of our lives aren’t spent pining! 

This is the kind of freedom I have spoken of in previous posts.  In the Victorian era, we would have been out of line to go to the cafe’ for our dinner without a chaperone.  Yet in the mid-1800’s, we would have been perfectly acceptable!  Because we are not in a relationship the guidelines for our interaction our less stringent than they may be in that situation.  This, of course, depends on the family.  However, my friend and I are in no dire straits to gain each others’ attention — and thus, we have no motivation to attain it.  Without motivation, there is no temptation.

If anything, my friend has given me great insight into how young men think, feel, and react.  He tells me honestly his opinion of certain character traits in girls, if I ask.  This in turn helps me in my view of myself and in what femininity is in regard to masculinity.  We never go too deep:  we don’t share feelings, emotions, and establish connections that belong within a committed relationship; but we do have a mutual friendship that transcends opinion, gossip and pressure.

Often “what people think” colors our reactions to the opposite sex, and can limit us in our friendships and interaction with girls or boys.  I call it “People Will Say We’re In Love Syndrome”.  Part of this is rooted in pride — concern over others’ opinons — and part is rooted in fear, but there are really only two causes:  Guilt or Pride. Guilt comes when a ‘friendship’ is not actually a friendship but an ‘illegitimate’ relationship (one not authorized or supervised by parents).  Pride instigates PSWLS when we walk around in fear of what people are thinking or saying about us. 

How do you build an immunity to PSWLS?  Two steps:  first, evaluate if you are above reproach in your parents’ and God’s eyes.  If you are, you can eliminate guilt as the cause.  Second, evaluate yourself for prideful intent.  Are you in the friendship to make it look like you’re in a relationship?  Are you so obsessed with yourself that your utmost concern is what people say and think about you?  Why can’t you enjoy the friendship for what it is?  If you work at keeping yourself in line on these two fronts your friendship should be pain and pressure free.

Immunities are built up over time.  They aren’t pills that you pop, although vitamins help in the long run (in regard to PSWLS, I suggest taking Humility, Patience, and Self-Control; write 1 Cor. 13:4-8 on the prescription and Celestial Pharmacy should hand it over  pre-paid).  If you wait until you’re love-sick, emotionally distraught, or fearful of friendships (all symptoms of advanced PSWLS) you will have to take some bitter pills to get back on track, and continue with that medicine until your weakened state is strong again.  Build an immunity now, and you won’t have to take the bitterness later.

My cell phone beeped 5:45 — time to head to class.  My friend was devouring a turkey sandwich and watching the news over my shoulder.  We’d been quite quiet for a while.  “We’re probably the only people who can go out and say nothing and still have a good time,” I laughed, gathering my coat and purse together.  “You know what they say,” he smiled with a twinkle in his eye.  “‘You say it best when you say nothing at all’…” 

Friends don’t have to say anything to know where they stand.  They just know.  And in that knowledge, they’re content.

The Victorian Deception

Somewhere in the past twenty-five years, as the purity movement was developing, there came into play an idea… or rather, an ideal.  This ideal begain to slowly influence the purity movement, in the name of ‘Good Old Days’ and courtship, and eventually has risen to be one of the major contributors to the purity perspective today.  This is the ideal of the Victorian courtship.

I have heard numerous girls chatter about this span of time in history, enamored with the dresses and courtly love of the people involved.  They see the flowers, lawn bowling, and walks; the lazy summer days and mint juleps; and the carraiges with  matching bays.  It was a day when men courted ladies with impeccable manners and propriety, not so much as speaking inappropriately in their presence.  It was a day of the family and the home, when women’s rights had not yet made its impact on society and the world was resting between war and depression. 

My dears, it is a delusion.

Partly because of the state of relationships today, I think the Victorian era has been colored to be more wonderful than it actually was.  Yet in truth, this period of time was nothing to be admired, and even more truthfully, it is nothing to be attained.  The Victorian time came after decades of war and uprising.  It was the eye of the storm between the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th Century — the most tumultuous century yet.  These years are presented as a time of leisure and love — a love that to many innocent girls is viewed as ‘ideal’.

Before the 1890’s there was an entire century of relationships.  There were generations of couples courting each other.  Before the Victorian times, men and women went for walks, had friendships, took carriage rides (unchaperoned) and danced together.  The culture was not the over-sexualized one we see today, but our ancestors had the same desires that you do.  Friendship did not cause them to give in to them.  They controlled themselves.

Sweeping in came the Victorian era.  No longer was it proper for a man and woman to spend time together unsupervised.  No longer was it appropriate for courtship to be fun.  It became a career move for men, and for women it was a game of love.  It became rules and stifled emotions… resulting in hidden sins and smouldering hearts.  What used to be in freedom became regulated and constantly under suspicion. 

Have you ever watched Pride and Prejudice?  I bet you have!  Notice that there is not always present a parent or an adult in every walk between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Notice that they exchanged letters and there was no one to bash them with a wooden spoon.  They were free, and in their freedom they chose to operate in propriety.  It is under pressure that many choose to rebel. 

The age of Emma and Elizabeth ended in the Victorian era, but while times change, desires do not.  It became unacceptable to have those desires when they are a real part of human nature — so rather than going away, emotions flamed higher in the dark, where no one could see.  Courtship in the Victorian era was not ideal… it was simply a facade. 

Transferring the Victorian model of courtship from its time to ours is not only difficult but also foolish.  This model reinforces the false pretense that  human beings do not have emotions, or that those emotions are still to be stifled even when we reach marriageble age.  I am not saying that we give full vent to our desires — no one should doubt my commitment to purity throughout my lifetime.  However, we need to understand that who we are in Christ rules our every action if we obey Him, and that letting fear and pride regulate our emotions and desires leads to our own destruction.

The generation following the Victorian era is a perfect example of the results of such a mentality.  The Roaring 20’s came whirling out of the stiff, unrealistic love of its parent decade.  The children of the Victorians rejected the entire method of courtship that their parents perpetuated and instead began the downward spiral into where we are today.  It didn’t come out of nowhere.  Dating didn’t just pop into someone’s head one day.  It resulted partly from the Victorian deception that love is a method, not a liberty.

Bottled and Shelved

I’ve seen it happen. 

A girl, pure and committed, living by every rule and guideline in the ‘book’, yet confused, afraid, and guilty over her own natural emotions.  If feelings arose for someone she tamped them down, stifled them, and corked it all in, not to see the light of day… but then at night, they came flooding back… and there was nothing she could do but stifle them all over again.

I’ve seen it destroy.  Those natural emotions that we have been given by God cannot be contained in so extreme a measure and allow us to still operate in freedom.  We become slaves to our emotions, constantly battling ourselves and feeling guilty because of it — when those emotions are part of our very nature.  The extremity of measures taken to keep a heart ‘pure’ can instead cause it to internalize natural desires, and eventually this leads to rebellion. 

What is a pure heart?  It is not a heart in slavery to rule and regulation.  It is disciplined, yes, but it is not bound and shackled to keep it in submission.  A pure heart is free of corruption, pride, selfishness and fear.  But most importantly… a pure heart is free.  Just free. 

If there is anything that causes me the most pain and frustration in the purity movement, it is the stifling of emotion that so many girls tend to do.  It is this tamped down, corked in, wound-up society of hearts that have natural, God-given desires for love and affection and friendship — without an avenue to vent those desires.  Friendships with boys are forbidden or closely censored, and any feelings a girl or boy may have is told to be stuffed away for That Great Day in the future.

It is not effective.  It is not safe.  This fear of relationships in high school, simply because we are devoted to purity, will prove to be the destruction of our commitment if we do not realize that in Christ, we have a marvelous freedom!  It is our own choice to use this freedom for good or ill — but we are free all the same!  This fear of friendships with girls or boys, this fear of touching or standing close, this fear of what others will think — it is fear.  It is pride.  It is not of Christ.

Oh you girls!  Do you see what you can have?  Do you see the freedom you have in Christ, when you are in submission to Him?  You can have pure, good, godly friendships with boys and girls and no one can condemn you!  It is perfectly possible to spend time with the opposite sex on a friendship basis and remain completely above reproach.  You may even develop an attraction to one particular friend — a crush, perhaps.  That is natural.  What you do with it is the issue.  If you stamp it down and grind it out with legalism and human strength, it will come back ten times stronger.  Give it to Christ, and you will be able to maintain a friendship as well as your heart.

God says all through Scripture, “Do not be afraid.”  (Deut. 1:29, Josh. 10:25, 1 Sam. 12:20, 1 Sam. 22:23, Ps. 56:11)  Do not be afraid anything:  temptation, emotion, friendships, men, what others may think.  If you are indeed of God then you have nothing to be afraid of.  You should be perfectly in control of your emotions, perfectly strong in temptation, perfectly at ease in friendships, perfectly respectful to men, and perfectly content to let others think what they may.  Because God is perfect, and He is at your side.

So where is your heart?  Is it ‘bottled and shelved’ like a keg of beer, fermenting and growing stronger in its pungent smell?  Or is it growing free, like a lily in a field, with sun and water and a whole host of others around it?  The lily white heart is not rotting in a cellar but flourishes where accountability and beauty grow up together.  It is not afraid of the thorns of the thistle that grows beside it, because it knows that it is where it needs to be.  Someday someone will pick it, but until that day, it flourishes where it has been planted.

I Can Love You Like That

Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned these immortal words many years ago:

“How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways./I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight/For the ends of Being and an ideal Grace…”

It is one of her most famous poems, included in the little book published by her husband, fellow poet and the receiver of that poem — Robert Browning.  Sonnets from the Portuguese is on my bedside table with my Bible, and now and then I pick it up just to read that particular work.

Elizabeth’s love for Robert is evident throughout the entire book of sonnets, but this poem in particular is so very exacting, so specific, in what her love for him is that we can’t plead misunderstanding.  There is no mistake to be made:  Elizabeth loved Robert dearly, beyond feeling, or Being, and into the realm of the ideal Grace. 

It made me wonder what it must be like to have that kind of a love.  How wonderful it must be to have someone love you that way — and to love them in return!  How much deeper, if this love were true, would the sentiments be than the kind of false ‘adoration’ we find today.  Yet so as not to journey into discontent, I purposed to think of what this love would be like with what I already have — my God.  As I read Elizabeth’s poem with this in mind, the message became all the more clear.

“How do I love Thee?  Let me count the ways.

I love Thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

To the ends of Being an ideal Grace.

I love Thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love Thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love Thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love Thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love Thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints — I love Thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,

I shall but love Thee better after death.

Beautiful, isn’t it?  As you read it through, think how we can love our God this way.  It is possible.  This love is a love that has taken all of life, the ‘breath, smiles, and tears’, and made them not a source of bitterness or pride, but a source of gratefulness and love.  This love is true in mundane — each “everyday’s most quiet need” — and is free, pure and passionate.  It is faithful and persevering… even unto death. 

I read once that “No love of the human heart is safe unless it is satisfied by God first.”  It’s very true.  And He can love you like that.

Any Man of Mine

“Do not put your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation…” (Ps. 146:3)

 It seems that everywhere I look I see books on waiting, courtship, dating, and singleness; blogs and posts about it; podcasts and magazines, articles and videos — the list goes on.  It’s a hot topic today.  Our world of fleeting romance is definitely not the ideal.  Yet it seems that as a result of choosing the path of purity we are turning out members of society with the ‘ideal’ as their ultimate focus.  Most of it belongs to the feminine side of the equation.  Some belongs to the masculine side.  With the commitment to purity, it seems that many young people form an idealistic concept of who, when, where and how, and when theses dreams don’t take place quickly, the participating faithfuls begin to lose faith.

High school is far too young for young people to be dabbling in relationships.  This is a fundamental idea that with any rational thought can be perceived as perfectly valid.  But what about afterward?  Why is the homeschool/purity movement producing persons (especially women) whose only real desire is to ‘get married’? 

The problem is not with marriage.  I truly believe that marriage is wonderful and I will be delighted when it happens to me.  Yet I have observed, over and over, young women leaving the nest of homeschool with one purpose alone: to catch a man.  My dear persevering relatives have seen this same tendency in me — although not so much to ‘catch’ one, as simply to throw my dime-a-handful fish pellets in the water and see if any come around. 

Girls will dream of their wedding day, that is a given.  But what about making your life around a wedding day?  Until you reach that time, you will not have a purpose.  No goal except to find a mate.  With any other object this may be attainable — a job, an education, even a home — since these things can be found and earned.  A mate is an entirely different animal… a human.  As time goes on, this human can become a god:  all youth is spent in pursuit of him, much time is spent in dreaming of him, and marriage, a wedding and a mate can become all you ever want out of life.

So what happens… when the wedding is over?  What then?  Wedding days are over by sundown, honeymoons are over in a week, and then there’s the rest of a lifetime to deal with.  Tests and trials much like singleness come — often much more difficult as the family must provide for itself.  What then?

The Ideal Mate suddenly is revealed as a sinning human, as well as are you — despite all the preparation for marriage.  If marriage was your idol before the ring, your eyes are opened wide as you see that it’s not all romance and candles.  All the time spent to attain it may make you wonder if it was well spent at all.  Did you redeem the time of your youth?  Did you make the most of the years you had?

Preparing for marriage is an admirable goal, and I would never say to stop learning to be a homemaker or provider (whichever you may happen to be).  At the same time, if that is your only goal in life it is a low-sighted vision.  While God works mightily through married couples, He can work mightily through anyone who is called by His name.  Those with the freedom of singleness are often more readily available than those that are wed, as with the Apostle Paul:

“Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.  I wish that all were as I myself am.  But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.  To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am…”  (1 Cor. 7:6-7)

Would I like to stay single for a long time?  No.  I want hugs and kisses too.  My mom and dad seem to have a rather fun time with it, and I wouldn’t mind trying it myself with my husband someday.  However, if that becomes my only goal then I am making an idol out of something that is a blessing of God, not God himself.  It is the same with a career or an education — or anything that takes the place of God in our lives.  Yet it often seems that marriage is somehow given a license to take this position in the lives of young people while careers and educations are not, especially to girls.

You may be alarmed by the feministic ring to that last statement, but don’t be; I will tell you what I am for.  I am for young men and women making these years when they are unmarried, without commitments and people to provide for, the years that they fill with learning and moving forward.  These are the years to do things you dream of — not in a selfish way, which the world recommends, but the dreams that God lays on your heart.  Dreams beyond marriage.  Once a woman has children she should be in the home educating them as her God-given position in the family.  But until then, she has work to do either for her husband or for her God.

Marriage can seem like the safe haven that escorts a girl out of her parents’ home into the home of her husband.  She never has to face ‘the world’.  The truth is that we live in the world.  We may not be of it, but we sure better be able to face it.  We had better know what to say and do, how to speak and how to teach — and in these things we can still be all the wife or husband that we need to be.  In fact, we will most likely be better. 

Any man of mine will be worthy of my respect and love because he went out into the world and accomplished the dream God laid on his heart.  He will be my hero because I will see in him a man who took his time and redeemed it, preparing for me by not wasting his time dreaming of me, but working to support me.  And I will do the same:  use these years to their maximum.  So when my man and I meet, our years together will be twice as powerful as our years apart.  That’s my dream, and marriage is a part of it — but marriage isn’t the dream itself. 

Society may be set against marriage, instead being a proponent of the ‘swinging single’ image, but that does not give us the license to take the pendulum the other direction with the idea that marriage is the ‘only way’.  We must strike a balance, with morality as our guide and God as our hope, knowing that our work for Him will be effective whether we have a spouse at our side or not.  When He is in His rightful place, then He can give us those blessings that we desire.

Unlocking Contentment

Our world is a world of ‘never enough’.  Whether it is with money, vehicles, houses, relationships, food or things, there is ‘never enough’.  We are surrounded by advertisements and commercials telling us we need more, we need better, we deserve more and better.  To be content is rare indeed.  It is a struggle… even for the Christian.

Contentment goes so much further than just with material things.  For me, it’s not about how many clothes I have or even how much money I have.  I have to learn to be content in other ways, which I am sure most of my single female readers can relate to. 

Today my pastor talked about contentment in a financially failing nation.  He gave us nine keys for dealing with our finances in today’s world.  As he read them to us, my mind wandered to what else they could be applied to, beyond monetary relevance alone.  As he read each one, I saw how they were very important for anyone striving to have contentment in their lives — in all areas.  For me, it is to be content without a ‘special someone’.

If you knew me well, as some of my readers do, you would know that I have wanted to have a ‘special someone’ for a long time.  At heart I am a hopeless romantic, and while I am trying to temper it now with practicality, my instinct is to revert back to wishing and pining for Mr. Knightley to come riding in.  Those hopes and dreams have been a part of me for a long time.  So I did some research.  Because of how my family goes about relationships, I won’t get into a serious relationship with a man (boyfriend-girlfriend) unless he clarifies that his intentions are more than simply ‘a good time’.  He must have a goal in pursuing me.  This levels the playing field right away.  Secondly, young men who want a serious relationship are usually established in their career and thinking about the future.  This means they are older.  According to the census records of the U.S., the average age of marriage for men these days is 27, and for women, 25.  This is due to that fact that men need to get established before they marry.

So what if I am single till I am 25?  I thought about it.  There is little chance I will be in a relationship before twenty, so if I am pining away now, what will I do for the next seven years?  Die?  No.  I need to learn to be content where I am.  No man would want an emotionally needy, weak-willed woman as his helpmeet anyway — he needs someone who can support and encourage him, someone who has learned and grown, not sat for twenty five years wishing he would come.  Contentment provides the freedom to work while waiting… never sacrificing the dream, just trading it in to Him who knows every dream and hope.

How do we unlock contentment in a heart that longs for something still far off?  There are nine keys given by my pastor which I have fit to apply to our situation as Christian women and girls.

1.  Spending: Control it.  Not money.  Emotional spending.  I have wasted emotions and time on people and situations that were hardly worth worrying over.  I have given away my heart when I had no valid reason to do so.  Control your heart’s expense of emotion and invest it instead with Christ, who will keep it until the right time.

2.  Debt:  Eliminate it.  Emotional attachments are a burden that weigh you down.  They alter your emotions, perspectives, and even your worldview.  These attachments hurt to break, whether by you or by the person you admire.  I know because I have felt that pain.  Yet they must be eliminated in order to walk free.

3.  Enough:  Learn the power of it.  Do you truly believe that Christ can satisfy?  I didn’t.  Sometimes I still don’t.  The key here is not to ‘surrender’ and then wait for the feeling of satisfaction to flood over you.  That is not how God works.  Believe that He will satisfy you, surrender to Him, and He will keep His word.  You may not ‘feel’ it at first, but He will be faithful if you trust Him.  He will be enough.

4.  Giving:  Enjoy the freedom of it.  Make this the time to serve.  You are free in contentment to use the time you have for God’s glory.  Down the road, whether you have a boyfriend or husband or no one at all, there will be times when you will need contentment again — in finances, in a less-than-perfect home, with young children.  Contentment is not just a one time thing.  Use it always as the support while you serve.

5.  Faith:  Defeat fear through it.  I have known the fear of being left behind, or unwanted, or that something must be the matter with me because no one even asked me out… is there ‘Avoid Me’ written on my forehead or something?  This is fear.  It is a lack of trust.  Have faith that God will work and He will.  He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

6.  Remember:  Gain confidence through it.  God does not change over time, although people and circumstances do.  He is always the same, always faithful, always loving.  You’ve probably heard or even said that plenty of times — but the question is:  do you believe it?  He will be faithful to those who put their trust in Him and believe that He does have the power to do what He has done for the past 6,000 years.

7.  Wait:  Listen carefully through it.  Waiting is not easy, but as I have said in the past, it’s not a situation of ‘twiddling your thumbs’ as the world passes you by.  Be the waitress, constantly moving for Christ.  Be found working, not idling.  The damsel-in-distress concept is not the attitude a daughter of Christ should be aiming for.  You are not in distress.  If you are a princess of God, you do not act according to entitlement but according to the will of your King.  Don’t sit in the tower, tossing down your tresses at every passing peasant.  Knot up your hair and work while you wait.

8.  Forward:  Don’t be paralyzed.  Keep moving.  Step out in faith that God is leading and that He will guide your steps.  Let His word be the lamp to your feet and the light to your path (Psalm 119:105).  The longer you stand still, the stiffer you will become to God’s leading and voice.  Fear keeps you rigid.  Faith makes you strong.

9.  First Love:  Return to it.  It’s funny my pastor should bring this up, because I posted about it earlier this week.  For all areas of life, this is most important.  Without Christ as our First Love, other loves will rise to fill the void… money, possessions, houses, cars… or earthly ‘lovers’.  When He is first, all things fall into their rightful places and He can work for our good, because we are dependent upon Him for it.  We trust Him.

When we trust Him, we have the greatest key on the ring.  It opens a heart that otherwise would shut out the freedom that deep down, it longs for.  This freedom only comes with contentment.  The contented heart can be self-controlled, free, satisfied, giving, faithful, thoughtful, patient, ambitious and loving… because it is content in Christ, and Christ is all those things.

First Priority

Love, genuine love, is not a feeling.  I have said this before, and I must say it again — not only for my readers, but also for myself.  Love is greater than emotion:  it is the choice from which our feelings will follow.  When I think of love, my mind pictures romance.  Yet romance by itself is only one small part of love.  Love is at heart a practical discipline. Practical, in that it is practiced, and a discipline in that it requires us to push ourselves in order to maintain it.

When we say we ‘love’ someone, we may mean it, but whether we truly love them is proven by our actions over time.  Love is an effort, not an accident.  This is why ‘love at first sight’ is not possible — that is attraction.  So no matter what we hear about love in the songs and movies, true love is nothing like those descriptions. 

I hear people speak of how much they ‘love God’ quite often.  I hear the ‘love of God’ preached even more often.  It makes me ask the question:  do most people even know what love is?  Think of the world’s definition of love.  To our society, love is (to put it as tactfully as possible) based on physical interaction alone.  It is based on conversation, personality and instant gratification.  When this ‘love’ no longer satisfies, or necessitates an effort, the participating parties go their separate ways.  With people so saturated in this mentality toward love, how will they ‘love’ God?  Most likely the same way:  based on feeling, condition and instant gratification. 

Due to society’s deluded perception of love, they treat God’s love in the same way they treat their relationships: as temporary and ‘replacable’.  Due to that same misconception, they also have trouble believing God when he says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”  (Jer. 31:3, ESV)  These days that kind of love doesn’t seem to exist.  In a seeing-is-believing world, people often give up on faith and settle for feeling instead.

God calls us to a different kind of love.  It’s the kind of love He had for us, when, despite scorn and beatings, and a horrific death, He died so we could be His.  He calls us to the love based on effort and action, founded on choice and courage, and grounded in faith and freedom. 

This kind of love doesn’t just happen.  Sometimes our feelings will sway us to take the easy way.  But His voice calls out, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matt. 6:33)  He must be First Priority to remain First Love; and when He is First Love, He will also be First Priority.