What comes to your mind when I say the words: “True Love”?

Is it enjoying spending time with another person?  The flutter of the heart when you gaze into your sweethearts beautiful eyes?  A feeling that somebody is valuable or important to you?

The truth is that none of the above are true love.  Let me take you on a journey of discovery, delving into a Sacred Romance, and discovering what true love really is. Breathe deeply the words of this article, because within them lie the power to save your future marriage, - even before you begin dating!

My Parents

I love spending quality time with my parents.  To be with them with them is often like a breath of fresh air in a stale world.  They love each other, - not as Romeo and Juliet, but in a much greater, more meaningful way… They show and demonstrate what love truly is.

Still living at home, most Saturday nights I join my parents for one of the highlights of our weekend, - that trip for an evening meal to Nandos, - a Peri-Peri chicken restaurant… and as far as I know, - the best chicken restaurant on the planet.
The Peri-Peri sauce can be doused on your chicken in three spicy variations: ‘medium’, ‘hot’ and ‘extra hot’, - yet none of these flavours can compare to the love of my parents.

You are probably thinking, oh, how romantic… an evening with candlelight… soft music playing in the background… star-lit sky…

None of the above… Nandos is a busy, semi-fast food restaurant that sells tasty chicken. There are no candle lit tables, the atmosphere is loud, and the starlit sky usually has a thick bandage of ‘overcast’ between us and it!

The truth is: love and romance is not reliant on the atmosphere that were are in, but instead the atmosphere we choose to make.

A Giving Heart

My mom loves carrot juice and since Nandos doesn’t sell carrot juice, my dad creates the ‘love’ atmosphere by occasionally disappearing to a nearby restaurant to buy some carrot juice and bringing it back to the restaurant we were in.  My mom embellishes this ‘love’ atmosphere by holding his hand, conversing lovingly and showing him value.

It’s a sad misnomer that people assume true love is something they will one day find. True love is not something to go out into the world and search for.  It is not found when we we meet our ‘perfectly’ compatible soul mate.  That person does not exist!  Instead true love is something we give of our self and plant into another imperfect persons life to grow.

Laying Down our Life for One Another Creates True Love

True love is laying down our own life of ’self’, ’singleness’ and ‘independence’.  We can then gift it to another person whom we ‘choose’ to love.  Jesus showed us what true love was by laying down His life for us.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (John 13:35)

“This is my commandment:  Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:12-13)

My dad truly loves my mom and will go to the endth degree, just to buy her a gift he knows she loves - like carrot or pomegranate juice.  She respects and values Him, often giving up her own single life and wants to be there for him, to cook Him dinner, to iron His shirts.  She will wake up early in the morning to make a smoothie for him and the family.

These are the actions of true love:  To put one self out for another, to sacrifice our own wants and comforts for another, and to build ‘one’ life together.

I have lost count of the many dating and marriage relationships I have seen suffer, - and even fall apart.  Sadly the main reason is because precious people do not realize that in order for a relationship to work, it requires two people selflessly giving up their previously single lives to become one team - for one reason:  The glory of God!

We get so used to our single ‘fringe benefits’ life, that when God wants to move us on to another season of our lives with our one soul mate, we may kick and scream about it. We may enjoy the snow of winter so much that when beautiful spring comes along, it feels hot and claustrophobic.

My mom and dad are my heroes.  Together they have one aim in life - to serve God together see people transformed through the power of Jesus.  They work as a team toward this goal.  Anything or any person that drives them away from this team vision must be left behind for this sacred romance to continue.

Are they perfect?  No!  They mess up like all of us… but they know they need to focus on building up others in Christ, their own relationship, and their family through the power of Jesus.

They have had to make enormous decisions to keep this sacred romance alive.  Whether it be travelling to another country, withdrawing from dangerous friends, or turning down amazing personal opportunities, - anything that drove a wedge into their sacred romance needed to be minimized.

Hard times provide an opportunities for true love to thrive!

True love does not require life to be easy-going in order to blossom.  In fact, it will blossom in the most difficult circumstances.  My parents had ten kids without fully considering the cost.  Life was difficult at times on the small five acre plot of land where we had pet cows, chickens, and at times, very little money.

When my parents met, my mom sacrificed her aim of becoming a nurse for my father.  She became a teacher instead.  Later in life my dad gave up one of his life-long dreams for her.  They have lived in multiple countries and if I told you some of the harrowing experiences they have endured, you might wonder how on earth they are still together, in love, committed to each other, and God.

In difficult times, people don’t always agree.  Whenever they allow their own wants or desires to dominate, true love disappears.  When they are critical of each other, the relationship starts to wither.  It is only when they sacrifice their own wants and speak the best of each other that this sacred romance can really thrive.

Sacrificing our own life to find the ‘Soul’ in Soul mate

How many dating/courting relationships do you know that are totally selfless?  It’s common for us to search for that person of our dreams who will sweep us off our feet. Instead it is when ‘we’ selflessly sweep that ‘other’ person off their feet that we can ‘ourselves’ experience true love.  When one person does all the sweeping off their feet, they get exhausted. When two people work as one team choosing to sweep each other off their feet, it is effortless and sheer bliss!

How many marriages do you know where both people choose to lay down their own wants for their mate?  I think if we truly knew and acted out God’s selfless love, we wouldn’t have so many divorces and breakups.

True love is only to be found when we learn to truly give, to lay our lives down for those we say we love.  For those of us that are unmarried, - it is up to us now to learn how to truly love selflessly with our friends, family and soul mate, - and in turn save our future marriage - before we even start courting!

Jesus showed us how to do it!

If we are truly Christians, we will give up our old lives and totally surrender them to live for Christ in His power.  Only when we become nothing… and He becomes everything, can the power of the Christian life be experienced.

Paul likens the relationship of Christ and Christians to a husband and wife.  A husband should sacrifice, give his all for his wife - just like Jesus, Paul says.  A wife in turn should submit to the Godly leadership of her husband, being cared for, giving up her own independence - just like Christian’s should give their all for Jesus.

I feel so sorry for the many guys and girls see this true love as ‘control’.  Instead its God's way to a sacred romance, a fulfilling relationship that Jesus himself demonstrated to us.

God wants to give us the most amazing relationships with our soul mate that lead to a great marriage… but it is up to us to be willing to make it happen!  It is foolish to say we will only give up our independence and single life after we get married!  The truth is: Getting married doesn’t change much in a relationship, - other than the ability to have physical intimacy.

If we are in a serious dating relationship, we should be training ourselves to live as ‘one’ team for God’s glory - ahead of time.

Surrendering our Life to Jesus allows us to Sacrifice our Life for the Soul Mate He gives to us

We cannot give up our own selfish single lives for a soul mate until we truly come to the end of ourselves.  The start of the journey is to make the decision to lose our life and find it in Christ.

Let’s be inspired today to selflessly surrender our own single, independent lives to God… - and only then we can selflessly lay our lives down for those that he puts in our life!

Let’s stop trying to find the right match and instead be the right match.  If two people try to find the right match, - they can go through their whole lifetime searching for the perfect person who doesn’t exist.

If two people work to be the right match, that’s selfless, giving, - and it will last a lifetime when they find their ‘imperfect’ soul mate.

Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

- William Shakespeare

Stephen Ernst






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