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Love Like "The Notebook"
by Lisa Holloway
9/01/2009 / Relationships
If you've ever seen the movie "The Notebook," probably one of the things that grabbed you was the way the husband loved his wife...even though she couldn't remember him most of the time. But every day, he would give her time and talk to her and love her, without hope of his needs being met or of lasting resultstrue, unconditional love.
I think that when people mention the beauty of that love, we tend to imagine how wonderful it would be to receive love like that. Perhaps very few of us would want to be the husband...the one having to do the loving under those circumstances.
Yet that is exactly what God calls us to do and is the type of love that most closely mirrors what Jesus did for us on the cross.
It is human nature to want to be loved and happy and fulfilled in our relationships. It is God's nature in us that can allow us to love and give happiness, even if that kind of love is never understood or reciprocated. It is the kind of love that works most deeply in the heart of the receiver...and, oddly enough, in the giver as well.
It's not a love I succeed at giving very often. It's when things are difficult that the "unconditional" part becomes necessary, but those very circumstances make it so very hard to achieve, as my human nature, angers, and hurtseven a sense of justicefight against my prayers to give that love to someone who makes me miserable.
I naturally have that kind of love with my son. But because of the mutual affection between us, it's not as hard to do.
Other family relationships have been more difficult, as with my alcoholic father. His choices sabotaged any chance we had at normalcy and emotional well-being. I grew up with our whole world being thrown into an uproar whenever he got drunk enough, covert escapes from the house in the middle of the night when he was depressed enough to get out the gun or hit Mom, and all the cascading effects in the choices of other loved ones that resulted from this kind of life.
When I grew up, I determined to tell him how I felt about his problem and refuse to see him whenever he was drinking. He would promise. And over and over again, I was disappointed. The day I had to go bail him out of jail for drunk driving was probably one of the most humiliating of my life. I both loved and hated him, and so often wanted him out of my life.
The Love Without Price
But God started working on me through him. My dad loved me, but he was trapped in a cycle of addictionof doing what he didn't want to do.
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Romans 7:15)
He would mean to do right by me and not disappoint me again, but he was a slave to this sin...just as we are all slaves to sin and can't make ourselves spotless for even a day. If you've ever tried really hard to be good, all that you think God wants you to be, you know how completely impossible this goal is.
Our sin separates us from God. And yet always, always He holds out His love "without price."
So God worked on me...and suddenly, I found myself able. Dad's behavior had nothing to do with my love. I just went to him and loved him, drunk or sober.
It opened up conversations like we'd never had before. We talked about life. We talked about God. And in the last two years of his life, he completely stopped drinking.
I had this precious gift of a relationship with my father restored to meone I had never had with himfor our God is a God of restoration, and relationships are important to Him.
I won't pretend to have succeeded every time a like "opportunity" came my way. My human nature still wars strongly against God's plans in my own private rebellion. Even now, I struggle with this in one of my nearest relationships. It is in this relationship more than any other that God calls me to shine a light...and it's also the hardest to change in because it's constantly tripping emotional triggers.
But in other areas of life, I've ended up thanking God for giving me what He wanted for me...and not what I wanted for myself. Why not this one as well? God sees the big picture and knows what He wants to work through me. Moment by moment, I have to trust that. I have to believe that if I trust and obey Him in each little thing, even if it seems "unfair" at the time...that if I choose not to excuse each transgression, but to love in spite of them...He will change our hearts and make us more like Himself.
It is our nature to want to receive love like "The Notebook." It is God's nature to make us new and equip us to give that kind of love ourselves. And when we do, mountains move.
Lisa Holloway is a Christian freelance writer, as well as a copy editor and writer for Inspiration Networks. She has served with the U.S. Navy and USAID/OFDA, and has studied in India. She recently wrote four stories for the compilation "Can My Marriage Be Saved?"
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