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Friday, February 12, 2016

Love is not simply an emotion you feel. It’s something you choose to wear.

Today's Friday Favorite comes in honor of "The Day of Love" - Valentine's Day.

Sadly, the word "love" is so much overused today that it's lost most of its meaning. Valentines Day marketers make it even worse. In this season, it seems especially important to consider what love actually means, and, more importantly, how we show love.

Today I'm revisiting two posts I wrote as part of my "Dress for Success" series, based on the Colossians 3:9-14 passage that describes how we are to put on our "new self," adorning ourselves with things like patience, kindness, and humility. The New Living Translation of this passage concludes with how we are to put on love above all else:
The most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Col 3:14 (NLT)
But what does it mean to "put on love?" Read on...

Did you ever think of love as something you choose to put on, something you wear on purpose?

I love that image, because it refutes the notion that love is just something you feel or don’t feel, a giddy emotion that might be there one day and gone the next.  When you limit love to an emotion, it makes it fickle and fleeting. And if this is love, then it is easy to put the onus of “staying in love” on our partner and their behavior.

When you think of love as something you wear on a daily basis it completely changes the game. It becomes a personal choice.

Where Do You Learn to Wear Love?

How do you put on love? Let me point you to a fabulous piece of advice from scripture. It’s one that I quote often around here:
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
Love like that - like Jesus. Yeah, that’s it. He is where you learn to love. Extravagant. Selfless. Giving everything for the sake of intimacy with us. He held nothing back tp pursue His bride. Neither should we hold back in pursuing our spouse.

I’m not kidding about how important getting to know Jesus' love is! The best way to put on love is to put on Jesus. And to do that, you have to know him and be a student of his love.  Here's how the Apostle Paul sums it up a few chapters earlier.
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)
The key to fullness in life is also the key to fullness in marriage. Paul makes it clear in this passage that we cannot fully know the dimensions of Christ’s love. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Don’t assume you get it. You don’t. I don’t. We can't. It’s impossible. There is always much more that can be revealed to our “inner being” by the Holy Spirit.

Ten Ways to Dress Yourself with Love

Before I give my list, be aware that your spouse’s love languages play into this greatly (see suggestion one!). What looks like a really nice love outfit to you is likely not the same to your spouse. To wear love well, you have to be a student not only of Jesus and how he loves, but of your husband or wife and what love means to them. This is HUGELY important!
  1. Take the five love languages quiz together if you haven’t already. Do something specific this week to meet your spouse’s top need.
  2. If you are a lower drive wife, pursue your husband by wearing something sexy to bed or by initiating sex. Husbands, pursue your wife by asking her on a date and making all the arrangement or paying her genuine compliments on her appearance, character or deeds. See more pursuit tips on this post.
  3. Choose to make a sacrifice of your own preference in order to honor your spouse’s preference, like picking a movie they would rather watch or a restaurant they would rather go to. But don't play the martyr! See the Relevant Magazine article: What does Laying Down Your Life Really Mean
  4. Do something to serve your husband or wife. Do a chore of theirs they’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Serve him or her breakfast in bed. Thank your spouse for something her or she did to selflessly serve you recently. 
  5. Put your love down on paper. By this I mean write a love letter (not in an email, but using real paper, written by hand). Do it out of the blue, for no special reason except to convey your love. Husbands without the gift of prose can check this link from The Art of Manliness. Here is a link of suggestions for wives from The Intimate Couple.
  6. Share the gift of non-sexual touch. Hold hands. Walk arm in arm. Hug. Give a neck or foot massage while you are watching TV. Be generous with your touch.
  7. Ask an intimate question and be ready to really listen. Husbands, ask “Is there anything I do that makes you feel unloved?”  Wives, ask “Is there anything I do that makes you feel disrespected?”
  8. Give public praise to your spouse. Brag on him or her in front of others. Post a picture of something great they did on Facebook. Tweet your undying devotion. See my post: The Power of Public Praise.
  9. Practice listening well. Make eye contact. Be empathetic. Don’t try to fix everything, but be willing to just be a compassionate shoulder.
  10. Say "I love you"!!  Regularly tell your spouse how much you love and adore him or her. Say it often. Don’t assume they know. And say specifically why!
Of course this list is only a small starting point. Hopefully it got your own creative juices flowing and you will be able to come up with many more ways to put on love for your spouse.

Let me leave you with an amazing YouTube video story of how discovering the meaning of love through encountering Jesus' love and grace restored on couple's marriage.

Can't see the video? Click here.


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