It’s hardly our fault.  From the time we are very young we watch Disney movies that begin with “Once Upon A Time” and end with “Happily Ever After.”  From our earliest years we are told that the greatest good we seek in life is True Love.

And in theory, there’s nothing wrong with this.  I do agree that love is the greatest good.  It’s just that, if you ask around, it seems nearly impossible for us humans (especially my generation) to settle on an objective definition for what real love actually looks like.

At my graduation last September, our commencement speaker challenged our graduating class with the task of redefining love for the culture.  “There are so many songs or stories out there about falling in love,” he said, “when falling in love really only makes up about 2% of what love actually is!”

You can see how this is problematic.  Not only are we looking for the treasure without a map, we haven’t even really any clue what the treasure will look like when we actually find it.  We know the 2% of how the story is supposed to begin, but we are less familiar with how to live out the remaining 98% of the equation.  Enter broken relationships and confused hearts.  The truth is, a lot of people could fill the first few pages of several books with the 2%, or the “Fairytales” of past relationships—but because we have believed for so long that “falling in love” is the whole picture, the remainder of our love stories are empty pages.  And then we wonder when “true love” will come.

A wise priest once told me, “Once falling in love ends, true love can begin.”  Falling in love is a feeling.  It’s a rare feeling, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed that it will only happen once in your lifetime.   True love is more than a feeling; it’s a choice.  And it’s not just one choice; it’s a series of choices.  It’s a lifetime of choices, and it usually comes down to the choice between yourself and your beloved.  You can tell it’s real love when you find mutual self-gift—when both parties involved choose their beloved over their individual desires.

If there were no choice in love, then it would not mean a whole lot for someone to say that they loved you.  The other 98% of love is not always easy, and it’s not always fun…and it definitely doesn’t always feel romantic and fairy-tale-esque, but it’s real.  Personally, I’d prefer to be chosen.

Copyright 2012 Mary Lane