Monday, 11 December 2017

C Columns

Understanding Relationships: Is your love a noun or a verb?

By Gary Moore

In 2007 the movie “Juno” was released. This popular movie was about a teenagegirl who became pregnant, her struggle not to abort but to give up the baby for adoption, and all the associated issues. In the movie the teenage girl, Juno, asks her father (who is divorced and remarried) a couple of questions: “I guess, I wonder sometimes if people ever stay together for people in love...Dad, I just need to know that it’s possible for two people to stay happy forever.”  

All of us at some juncture of our lives ask that same question. And, in spite of how bad our current situation is or the situation we grew up in, or in spite of the societal marriage statistics, down deep we think it is possible for us — at least we want it to be. We want to be able to answer Juno’s questions with a “Yes.”

It’s not hard to fall in love. It’s been said that the only requirement for falling in love is a pulse. With the proliferation of social media and online dating services, it’s easier than ever to connect with someone. According to one source from two years ago, there are over 91 million people worldwide using dating apps. We couldprobably say that it’s never been easier to fall in love...but, it’s never been more difficult to stay in love. We seem to be equipped to fall in love but not to stay in love. Yet that’s what we want — to stay in love.

Our society today has a low threshold for relational pain. If it becomes too painful, for whatever reason, we simply get out. We say to ourselves that the reason we’re not happy is that we simply married the wrong person — we chose poorly. So, we abandon that relationship and set out on what we hope is a more “selective hunt” that will bring us the happiness we so desire. Choosing the right person is certainly a part of the equation, but perhaps the more important part of the equation is becoming the right person.

Then there is the whole thing of staying together, but not in love — staying in a marriage vs. staying in love. We don’t want to just be in a relationship to survive. We want to find that special someone to do life with — to be in love with — “till death do us part.” Too often that’s not what we have modeled for us and therefore we find ourselves asking the Juno question.

Fortunately, Jesus speaks directly to this. In John 13:34 he gives us the answer: “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It’s easy to gloss over this familiar verse, to think, “So what? That’s it?” But notice carefully what Jesus does. He takes a word we normally use as a noun and makes it a verb. It’s an imperative. It’s a command. Normally we think in terms of falling in or out of love.If Jesus was our marriage counselor and we went to Him because we were having “heated fellowship,” according to John 13:34 He would say, “Do you love your spouse?”  

“Well, I used to.”

And Jesus would say, “No. No. You ‘used to’ is a noun, not a verb. Are you loving her?”  

“No, but we’re married.”

And Jesus would say, “You’re confusing a noun and a verb. What you’re really saying is that you’re not feeling it. You have to do it before you feel it.”

Our relationships start off with the feeling of love. In the beginning, feeling loveis the engine that’s driving the relationship train. But what Jesus is saying is that love as a noun (feeling) has to be the caboose on the relationship train. Love as a verb has to be the engine.

If we want to sustain and grow love in our marriage relationships, we have to stop treating love as a noun and start treating it as a verb. Love, as a verb, is active,purposeful action done daily.

The foundation for a long-term relationship is to make love a verb. The goal isn’t to recapture a feeling. The feeling of love was the engine at the start of the relationship, but for the relationship to be long-term, it has to become the caboose.

The answer to your question Juno is “Yes,” but only if we make love a verb not a noun.

Gary Moore is currently a part-time staff member at Cloverdale Church of God in charge of Adult Education. He's served as associate pastor there for the past 11 years. He's principal of .003 Coaching, providing life coaching, couples' coachingand business coaching locally and around the country. He also does a weekly radio program on KBXL 94.1FM on Fridays at 8:45 a.m. called Life Point Plus. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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