I remember our first kiss. He picked me up barefoot in the moment and drove me to a dirt road where we danced beneath the moonlight. I had butterflies. He was my first love. I loved him first. The words slipped right out of my mouth after months of courting. I wanted forever with this man who pursued a relationship with me, with God as our center.

I felt so in love.

In the month of February when love is paraded around with chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, it is important to remember that love is not just a feeling. Sometimes we feel it so strongly that we can’t breathe. Sometimes we feel anger, sadness, or even fear in our broken relationships on this earth with those we love. It is in those moments that we choose love. We choose forgiveness.

When I find it difficult to love, I remember a God who chose me. Despite my sinful heart, He sent His only Son to die for me because He chose to love me. Jesus did not like the way it felt up on the cross, but God loved us enough to choose the cross.

“But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

It is this chosen love that steers me away from the fears of “what if” into the faith of “even if.” We can choose healthy boundaries even if it feels like hard love. We can choose to communicate even if we dislike conflict. We can choose to make time together a priority even if we are busy. We can love our spouse in their love language even if it is not our own. Even if our spouse does not meet our expectations and misses the mark on all we had hoped for, we can still choose patience and kindness because of who we are in Christ.

We can choose love when it does not feel like love in our marriages, and sometimes the miracle of feeling in love resurfaces and is resurrected as we choose love once again.