What is the first thing that come up in your mind when you hear the word 'smart love'? Does it mean picking the right one to partner with? It tickles my thought to find out what smart love really looks like. I believe that it's not a matter of the whom you love but it involves series of gradual steps which involving the why, what, when, who, and how you love him/her.
#1 Why do we love?
I think it is necessary to put the purpose and reason why we love in the first place before we even meet the potential partner. Many people do not have a sound understanding of what love should be. We can find some say that, "I love him because he is kind and attentive to me" "I love her because she can understand me" and so on. Yet the truth is the why do we love is rarely connected with what the person do or who is the person. The why always begin with our own motivation and purpose. Try to ask this, "Why do I love my unknown future partner? What drives me to love him/her with all my heart" So, the reason of love does not born after we meet the right person. It is wiser to determine it before we meet our potential partner.
[Man] To love you as Christ loves the church endlessly and unconditionally is a privilege for me. Being placed by God as your leader is such an honor. I know that I am given stronger muscles in order to protect you and to serve you. I love you not because of my needs nor insecurity of being alone in this life. I love you not to use you. I love you in order to give you my heart, my soul, my all to be one with you. I know that it will not be an easy journey, but
I also always know that it will be worth it. For I, myself, has been loved by Christ deeply although I am not worthy at all. And by the power of His grace, so will I love you in every condition, through good and bad, joy and sorrow, health and sick. Loving you is one way of me worshiping my living God
[Woman] I haven't met you yet, but I am determined to love you as God intend it to be. I will love you as the church loves Christ as Christ has loved the church first. I love you because of Christ is in work at you. I love you so that I will always seek the goodness behind things that I may dislike. I offer you my loyalty, my heart, my devotion, my compassion, and my time. I know that you will be the one who will treasure it :) I place myself as your supporter, encourager, and a place where you will be at rest. I am offering you a home of peace and not the one which is full of quarrels. I love you no matter what, til the end of time.
If we read these 'romantic promise' we find few things is common here. That love is a matter of giving and placing other as priority over our life :) So the purpose of love is to give. And we do not need to meet our future spouse to practice that. We can begin to give now. It is a great preparation if we have directed our energy to shape ourselves to be a generous giver before we meet him/her. It will do a lot of favor in our future relationship. Yes.. the why's in love is not about the other person's qualities. It is more about
our pure motives which is being prepared now for the future to come :) And how much should we give? As Christ loves the church who gives everything, we need to learn to give our complete self to be selfless:) I think that it's a huge task and responsibility. But a love will be as strong as its foundations. And our pure motives will do a great deal in building it.
#2 What to look for in love
From the why, we move to the what to look for in our future spouse ;) In determining this, we need to separate between what is absolute and what can be tolerated by Jesus' guidance :) Every people has their own sets of uniqueness that makes the what becomes more variative. But I believe there is still the absolute things that Jesus has set before in the Bible. Do not compromise on these things. Unbelivers as you may know are undebateable. There is no more 'what ifs' regarding this thing. Now the confusing part is being equal part ;) How can we describe 'being equal'? Does it talk about social status? Spiritual maturity? Education level? Family background?
Biblically, we can intrepret it as being equal in spiritual maturity which is not quite as easy as it sounds too. There is no exact parameter to value one's spiritual maturity. And to do so, wouldn't it be a bit of judging? So there are no exact indicators yet I hope that these guidelines may help you to answer it by yourself :) "Is this person makes me yearn for Jesus more than before? Is Jesus a priority in his life? Does he thirst and hunger to study His Words? Does he obey and do God's words consistently?" I believe that a relationship with a person who loves and obeys God will be the safest one ;) Humanly love is fickle, Godly love sustains forever. Yes, forever. It's possible.
On the other hand, there are more specific issues that will be relevant also to be considered as equal :) Social status, although is not an absolute criteria, play a huge role in succeeding in our relationship. God told Adam to work in Eden before He created Eve. It means that men should be able to provide, protect, and stand on his own feet before getting married. All of these things are meant to minimize potential conflict in the future. We don't want to get married but still struggling in financial area, do we? Statistics have showed that most of the fight between husband and wife are because of money. I personally am determined that money should never be a problem in our life. So prepare well :)
In Eastern culture, family backgrounds also play a huge role to get parents' approval. Well, there is no perfect family afterall. So this is quite a big challenges for couples. What if our family resist our relationship? Hmm.. Maybe this can guide you to answer that :) There is one wise saying which states, "If you know it is God's will but the door seems to be closed, keep going. But if you know it is not God's will but the door seems to be open, don't go" So in the end it comes back to how sensitive we are to God's leading :) His presence and leading will be affirmed by peace that trascends all understanding. His peace does not mean the absence of conflicts nor troubles but His perfect peace is in our hearts even in the midst of storm. When you happen in the midst of this situation, there is no better way than to pray and surrender to God. Do what you can do, keep loving and honoring your parents and family, and let God do the rest :)
In sum, know what you really look for in love relationship based on Godly values :) and you are free to add some which really is untolerable to you too. For me personally, to have a partner who does not smoke and does not lie are absolute matters for me :) It is untolerable and I do not want to risk my 3/4 of life to be with him and bear all the consequences ;) What's yours then? :)
#3 When to love
Yup.. timing to love is very vital too. Joshua Harris said, the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. The matters of right or wrong can be shift so drastically as being applied at the wrong timing :) To be engaged in love relationship is a good thing ... if we are ready to commit to marriage. When we're not ready, there's huge possibility that it will turn to heartache and broken heart ;) Being ready is a matter of maturity. And maturity talks about how well we control our emotion, how well we can endure hard things, how ready we are financially, and how much we want to take responsibility :)
Being in a relationship when we are still teenagers will be unwise choice. We are still depending on our parents and for sure it is still a long way to go into marriage at that time. Yes, there are some couple who began relationship since junior high and they can make it up to the wedding. But these couples are rare! Do not risk your heart at something that may be not worth it in the end. Why hurt your heart with unnecessary hurt?
Love appropriately in its time :) God's perfect time. When your maturity and your partner's maturity have been developed. It will be beautiful relationship you can ever imagine.
#4 Who to love
Finally, we reach this point. Well don't be too excited :D I put this on the fourth stage for its increasing difficulty :) The who is related closely to the what to look for in love. The what will guide the who :) So I bet you already catch the idea from point number two ;) There is no perfect person, no right person. But I believe there is God's best in mind for you. He is exactly what you need to grow into Christ likeness as God intends it to be. Yet some additional guidance that I'd like to offer here is find the one who has developed patience in his heart :) For love is patient. A man or woman of bad temper will bring hell in your life. Oops.. hell may be too harsh, but I want to use it to describe how bad it is. Patience, endurance, commitment, stability, faithfulness, and joyfulness will
be great traits to have in your partner :) God has the best in store for you, do not settle for the less.
#5 How to love
Unconditionally. Endlessly. Without demanding anything in return. As sincere as a dove. Unselfishly. The fourth stages before are meant to prepare you for the beginning of your love relationship. But this fifth stage are meant to maintain it and bring up your relationship to the fullest joy :) We don't want to merely survive on a relationship, but we do want to enjoy it :) Surely it takes a hard work and well determined heart. So focus in glorifying God with all your might. Flee from temptations that will compromise your purity. Honor your partner. Treat him/her like prince or princess of King of all Kings. Die to your self in order for your love to reign. Where ego dies, love grows. Leave out a quarrel that does not worth it in comparison with your love relationship. I believe its a long journey that will bear sweet fruit if we just never give up. Strive forward for a lifetime love commitment. Glorify God with the way we love and praise Him always in any circumstances :)