Fun fact about me — I am a sucker for anything that could possibly be classified as a romance.
Jane Eyre sits high on my list of favorite books ever — along with some lesser-known romance novels. I love rom coms, even the ones that are terrible and have little to no plot. I watch and enjoy those stupid Hallmark Christmas movies every single December, knowing that they are all super predictable and that they all pretty much end the same way.
Even my favorite comic book is a love story. I have argued with my older brother approximately 500 million times over the years about The Dark Phoenix saga — he claims that its poorly written garbage, while I insist that it’s utterly romantic how Jean Grey sacrifices herself for those she loves.
I just love the excitement of a good romance story. The butterflies, the anticipation, the softening of hearts, the healing and the happily ever after — it hooks me every time.
And yet, real life isn’t a romance novel. Giddy feelings and fluttering hearts are beautiful things, but in a lot of relationships, those things fade away after a while.
The longer that a person is in a relationship with another person, love becomes less of a feeling, and it becomes more of a choice. One partner might not get butterflies in their stomach at the idea of unloading the dishwasher, but that partner will choose to do it if they know that doing it will make their partner feel loved and appreciated.
Many relationships might start out like a gift shop paperback, but they always progress to a model of love as a choice — where partners choose one another over and over again.
Love as a choice isn’t just for romantic relationships, though. Love as a choice comes up in every single relationship that we might find ourselves in — from friendly waves to our next-door neighbors to the love that we have for our families.
It is not always easy to love people. If you have worked a job where you encounter the public on a daily basis, then you know this well.
We are not always going to feel like loving people. We are not going to get butterflies in our stomachs urging us to make the better choice when some jerk cuts us off in traffic and we want to lay on the horn and flip them off.
But Jesus commands us to love. He tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That is the second greatest commandment.
So, as people who love and want to follow Jesus, we are charged with making that choice every single day. There are no exceptions. Not even for jerks in traffic.
So, Clinton County, let’s choose love. Let’s choose to do something thoughtful for our partners. Let’s choose to be patient with our children.
Let’s make the choice to offer to help our elderly neighbor with a chore that might be hard for them. Let’s make casseroles for grieving families. Let’s listen to people of color and other marginalized folks rather than dismissing their experiences. Let’s donate to local charities if we can.
Let’s keep the lines of communication open with people who have different opinions than us — having grace for them and looking for mutual values that you might have in common. Let’s not name call people who choose to wear masks, or publicly shame those who don’t.
Let’s choose to love our neighbors, however that might look.
Let’s choose love.
Hannah Mullikin Lutz is the Pastor of Ada Chapel Friends Meeting.
Weekly columns are provided to the News Journal by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.