God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8
This is one of those days that The Love Dare has a lot to say. . . and that’s good because this is foundational information. I believe that loving unconditionally is something that is easier to do if you grew up with it, but something that we all need to do better. And since it is so close to the heart of God I believe that He will help us every step of the way in our feeble attempts . . . it’s that important to Him.
Here is what we can read from Day 10 in the book to encourage us to love our spouses no matter what: “If your reasons for loving your spouse all have something to do with his or her qualities—and then those same qualities suddenly or gradually disappear—your basis for love is over. The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.” (p. 46) Did you get that? Read it again and again if you need to.
The authors continue by reminding us that there are three kinds of love in the Greek language. Agape love is Christian love (like Jesus loves). Phileo is a friendship love, and eros is a sexual love. We find all three in good marriages, but agape is foundational because it makes possible the “in sickness and in health,” “for richer or poorer,” “for better or worse” (including consequences of war) promises that we made when we got married. This is true love—God’s love. Not because we are so lovable (most times we’re not), but because God is so loving. When we can love like that, then we are loving unselfishly (there’s that word again).
But then the authors address a statement that we have all heard before—“I have fallen out of love with my spouse.” What that really means, the Kendricks say, is that you never loved them unconditionally, and your “love” was based on feelings or circumstances, not commitment. “Unconditional love, agape love, will not be swayed by time or circumstance.” (p. 47) The beautiful part, the redemptive part, is that no matter how you began your marriage, with God’s help real love can become a part of a “new” marriage built on His principles. It’s a remarkable thing to behold—how God can transform lives and marriages. Once you receive God’s unconditional love, then you have something to share—and who better to share it with than your lifetime partner! Whether your love is returned in the way you had hoped for or not, you know that it is the right thing to do.
Here is today’s dare during deployment: The Love Dare would have us perform an act of selfless service for our mate today—something like washing their car or doing the laundry. But with deployment we must get more creative. Try making a “coupon book”—for when you’re back together again, and make it “satisfaction guaranteed.” For example a coupon could state, “When I get home (or you get home) one of the first things I want to do is to show you my love in a practical way by _______ .” Pick something that you know your spouse has been wanting accomplished—like a room painted, a garden planted, the storage room cleaned, etc.
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. — 1 John 4:10,11
We love because He first loved us. — 1 John 4:19
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future (nor deployments), nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38,39
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing, 2008)