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Love is a Choice

For two years, I was proud to be a contributor at A Deeper Story. I wrote alongside many amazing authors, writers, and poets, often wondering how on earth I got so lucky. I often felt unworthy. They were the Alice Coopers to my Wayne.

Nish Wiseth, the founder and chief editor, has decided the time has come to move on, so she is closing up shop. I’ve decided to re-post my work from there here. Every Saturday, a new-to-Lifenut post I wrote for A Deeper Story will appear here (with Nish’s blessing and encouragement). These posts often focus on issues of faith, culture, church, and how they intersect through story. I am very fond of these posts and don’t want them disappearing. Folding them into Lifenut is like folding chocolate chips into cookie dough.


Love is a Choice
(originally published May 17, 2013)

We were young, cute, and fit. We were much less hairy and unburdened from major responsibilities when we began flirting with each other in a college film class. From “Do you want to go out sometime?” to “Will you marry me?” to “I do” to “I’m late” was less than a year.

My husband and I have been married for 17 years. Swaggering hormones coupled with caring friendship: That was us in a nutshell. The dumb move would be to not get married. For example, our foreheads fit together when we faced each other. Skull compatibility! It was no small thing, right?

Thankfully, we had a wise pastor who required pre-marital counseling before he’d perform ceremonies. In one of the first sessions, he asked if we knew how to love. He explained: Every morning, it was our job to wake up and make the choice to love each other. Day after day after day, love is a full-on, diving-in, wrestling-it-to-the-ground choice to make. Somedays, it’s effortless. Sometimes, E.F.F.O.R.T. But it’s always worth it. I thought about his advice many times in our first year of marriage and beyond, thankful my worth doesn’t depend on my husband’s emotional whims. I’m not loved because I’m doing something right. There is no security in that approach to marriage. Given the freedom to know I am unconditionally loved allows me to make that choice as well.


Do we always choose love? No. We are far from perfect.

Recently, we learned the venue where we were married is being torn down. A few years ago, the interior was gutted by fire. From the outside, it looked like a grand old church, with strong white columns and a red brick facade.

Before it was torn down.

Before it was torn down.

But the inside was rotten and unusable. The outer shell was demolished first so the inside can be scooped away. Eventually, the rubble will be cleared. It will be a bare slab of land again.

How easily a marriage can be blazed away, too. From the outside, it appears solid but on the inside it reeks of smoke, ash, chemicals, mold. Romance can’t swoop in to repair a single beam. The impossibility of a self-repair seems deeply unfair. The only solution is to strip away everything until it’s bare.

I don’t know who owns the building or who owns the future empty lot, but I do know what happens to it next is a choice. They can rebuild something more grand and beautiful, or abandon the whole idea and walk away. I’m hoping they rebuild. I hope they move into a place of optimism and rebirth.

I love what Madeleine L’Engle said about marriage:

“If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.”
(Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season)

Participation is just another word for choice. It’s picking the front row seat and raising your hand. I’m going to love. I’m going to get dirty. I choose to choose.

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