"Too many believe that love is a condition. . . something that happens to you. They disassociate love from the mind and, therefore, from agency. In commanding us to love, the Lord refers to something much deeper than romance—a love that is the most profound form of loyalty. He is teaching us that love is something more than feelings of the heart; it is also a covenant we keep with soul and mind." -- Elder Lynn RobbinsYesterday afternoon I was digging through old boxes of books in the storage room -- books that had been packed in boxes 6 moves ago; books I intended to put on a bookshelf once we finally decided to get "grown-up furniture" in our living room. Playing over my computer speakers as I worked was one of the latest songs from Sara Bareilles - "I Choose You".
I must have listened to this song (and the entire album it comes on) at least 75 times. I'm constantly drawn back to it, I think because its message is so rare these days, and it hits on a truth that most people refuse to acknowledge:
Love is a choice.
My whole heart will be yours forever
This is a beautiful start
To a lifelong love letter
Tell the world that we finally got it all right
I choose you
I will become yours and you will become mine
I choose you
My heart broke a little the first time I had to explain the concept of divorce to my son. We were driving home from a playdate and he wanted to know why his friend's parents weren't living in the same house anymore. "Sometimes adults decide that they don't want to be married to each other anymore," I said, adding assurances that his parents would never get divorced and that we would always love each other.
I watched his face in the rearview mirror as his eyes filled with a pensiveness I had never seen there before. "That's a sad choice," he said.
It struck me as very profound - my preschooler could see what many adults cannot (or refuse to): Divorce is a sad choice. In many cases, the saddest possible choice.
This is not meant as a slam against anyone who has been divorced -- sometimes the dissolution of a marriage is absolutely justified, and we shouldn't judge each other in this regard. But what if we all woke up each morning, even when -- especially when -- we're in the midst of marital problems, even when we've had a raging fight with our spouse, even when we feel our hearts sinking as if there is no hope for our relationship, and, instead of telling ourselves that our own happiness takes precedence over everything ("I choose me"), we said, "I choose you."?
No marriage is perfect because no person is perfect. But love is a choice. Loving the person you married is a choice. So start now. Choose your spouse. Choose to love him with all of your heart.
See how beautiful it can be.