Titus 2:4 gives instructions to teach women to love their husbands and children. The teaching them part really stuck out to me, and I couldn't stop from wondering what that was all about. I got to thinking, and here are my loosely tied together thoughts about why we must be taught to love.
Love is often painted as an emotion. It is portrayed in an idyllic and fantastical way and it is beaten into out heads that it is a feeling that takes us into the land of Happily Ever After. Well, love is not an emotion, in and of itself anyways, and love is not a free pass into perpetual earthly happiness. Love is actually quite contrary to that fairy tale concept. Loving is unnatural at times. Loving is hard work and the act of loving must be learned both by trial and error and by observing and being mentored by those better versed in it.
Love is selfless, unconditional, and sacrificial, and those are not characteristics that are hardwired into humans from birth. When two selfish humans choose to love each other, conflict is inevitable. Let's be real here - we are all selfish at times, and that's all there is to it. If we expect that love auto programs out flaws, we'll end up very disillusioned about love. Love does in fact change us, but not all at once. Real love confronts flaws with grace, while romantic love either overlooks them with a childlike naivety or demands them to be adjusted.
Love isn't something that is felt, it is something that is done. Love is an expression, and of course feelings are a large part of that, but love itself is not defined by feelings and emotions. When we rely on romantic notions to define what love is, we set our relationships up to crumble. Emotions are fickle, and so is a love that relies upon them to direct its course. True love is learned, and it is learned through following the Biblical examples set before us, through hard work, devotion, and a mutual dedication committed to sticking it out while you figure it out. And as long as we're alive and striving to grow, we'll never stop figuring it out; and that constantness is part of the inherent beauty of love. As long as we cherish and protect and guard love, it just keeps on growing.