Someone young and precious to me posted recently: “How do you know you’re in love?”

Isn’t that a question we’ve all asked at one point or another? Is it mere attraction? Mutual enjoyment? Shared hopes and dreams?

Falling in love with my (now) husband wasn’t difficult at all. As though he was on display for my scrutiny, I considered me, my feelings. Attraction…check. Shared beliefs…check. Desire to be near him…check.

Then came marriage, living together in this daily grind – suddenly, all our opposite traits rubbing each other in uncomfortable ways. What felt like a natural force became a daily choice.

To fall in love is easy: it’s all emotions and heart-fluttering and giddy attraction. It’s like falling, something we have little control over, something we succumb to. It’s often blind, overlooking red flags of warning. It lives in a dream state, ever-imagining. Often it elevates the other as an object of worship.

To live in love is the hard part: it’s raw and sacrificial. It’s preferring the other person above yourself. It’s believing the impossible is possible. It’s releasing the desire to control them or twist them. It’s believing they are and can become the person God has created them to be—and helping them arrive at that destination while persevering with them on the journey. It never uses ultimatums or threats.

A life in love is that ridiculous encapsulation of 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:

patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, not rejoicing with wrongdoing, but rejoicing with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, never-ending, rooted in the Spirit, producing confidence before God, fearless

Authentic love, abiding love, is an existence impossible apart from God and His grace to empower. Falling in love relies on gravity to do the work. Living in love defies gravity when it presses down, nearly crushing. Falling in love is feelings-based. Living in love does so despite feelings.

Living in love often seems illogical, nonsensical. It’s not a sweet or simple story people flock to the movies for. It’s a long road filled with mundane moments of choosing the other. Of choosing the Source of Love—God.

So, how do you know you’re in love? When you’re living motivated, fueled by Love. When it’s no longer just about you and how someone meets your needs and wants. When there’s sacrifice and service. When you realize that living in love is not a feeling, but rather, is an ongoing expression, a constant outpouring of yourself.

And you take one more step up that mountain, knowing that a life lived in love is more about the hard climb than the backwards free-fall.

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