I read this great article about friendship that gave this explanation I think really defines the two type of relationships in the world.
I love you, because I love you, you are mine.
You are mine, because you are mine, I love you.
This reinforces my previously stated epiphany that parental love is the example of love we should all model – because the love I have for my children exists naturally and without requirement. They are mine (if only temporarily) and I am crazy in love with them. There is nothing that can take away the love I have for each of them.
I find that many other types of relationships take the first approach. I chose my husband, he chose me. I love him. He loves me. I choose to love him and he chooses to love me. And because I love him, he is mine. As long as he loves me, I am his.
I’ve always held the belief that loving is a choice we must make daily to sustain a healthy relationship. What if we change our way of thinking? I’ve chosen my husband, he is mine. Because he is mine, I love him. He chose me, I am his. Because I am his, he loves me. Our ownership status, so to speak, doesn’t change. As a result, our love is not an option. It is part of who we are.
And I’ll be so bold as to suggest we extend this thought process to friends, to family, to our church. If we commit to belonging, we love as an extension of that, and we extend grace to our beloveds the way Christ extends his love and grace to us. Our friends and families become the sheep, and as shepherds, we seek one lost sheep, rejoicing when it is found. We don’t let one sheep go and count ourselves better off. We don’t make the sheep earn our love and favor once it returns. We don’t expect perfection from the sheep. We love. We forgive. We belong.