Love is indeed strange.
It is the commonest word in all the 6,500 languages of the world.
It is also the commonest word in the Bible.
The irony is that there is no definite definition of love.
We understand it differently based on our age, faith, culture and life experience.
The Greek language, for example, has broken down the word love to represent four different feelings - philia, storage, eros and agape.
The Bible, however, gives us the best understanding of love.
St Paul says love does not seek her own. St John and Jesus say love is about dying for another.
Akans say odo ye wu or ‘to love is to die’.
True love is, therefore, essentially a gift of self-giving.
It is about putting the needs of your lover ahead of yours to make him or her better.
Therefore in a fulfilling relationship, a deep caring of your lover is essential.
This comes at a cost. Love, therefore, has a price to pay. There can be no true love without service, sacrifice and suffering.
A South Korean woman sang over 900 songs for 60 hours with only a 10-minute hourly interval to cheer up her sick lover.
She collapsed in exhaustion but her effort paid off because her lover got better.
A Ghanaian lady lawyer closed down her lucrative practice to follow her husband abroad to find treatment for him. In the end, she donated her kidney to save her husband.
Many years ago, some missionaries, led by Father Clement Hotze of blessed memory, left all the goodies in ‘aburokyire’, took a vow of poverty, obedience and chastity and settled in a place that had no water, electricity and medical care.
They were the pioneers of my alma mater, St Peter’s School, Nkwatia-Kwahu. They gave their all to build the school. They died and were buried in Ghana.
How to suffer
Have a positive mental attitude: All relationships are difficult but it is hard work, commitment and sacrifice that will nurture your relationship.
If you see your relationship as good, it makes it easier for you to do all you can to keep it alive.
Resolve never to give up on your relationship.
Put the focus on yourself: Find ways of improving your lover irrespective of how he or she treats you. See what you can do better and differently because your lover merely responds to what you do.
Make yourself more lovable so that your kind acts impact positively on your lover.
See the weaknesses in your lover as a wakeup call to sacrifice and make him or her better.
Share all areas of your life.
Give up what you love and cope with what you detest : Studies show that it takes one committed partner to turn a relationship around. Therefore acting alone, you can make your relationship romantic and exciting.
The greater the sacrifices you make, the greater your satisfaction in the relationship.
Do all it takes to make your lover better: When you get into a relationship, you are expected to give support and care.
You pick up the slack where your lover falls short.
It is the sacrifices you make that motivate your lover to improve upon himself or herself.
You must, therefore, embrace suffering because apart from building your relationship, it develops your character, perseverance and maturity.
If you never suffer, you will be less humanly capable of showing love or being loved.
Keep loving through suffering: God sends suffering to help us become holy and completely focused on Him. Suffering is trial by fire which purifies the gold in us but burns the rubbish in us.
Suffering helps us to be patient and ties us to Christ’s suffering and death.
It is not easy to suffer but if we want to share in the glory of Christ, we must share in His pain.
Your model of love
Christians this week celebrate the death of Jesus who hated sin but loved the sinner to the point of freely giving up his life to give us hope and salvation.
He was the son of God but took the nature of a slave.
He did no wrong but was rejected, falsely accused, taunted, abused and tortured but prayed tor the forgiveness of all.
Jesus took our suffering in Him, felt the pain for us and saved us. We would have had to suffer far more than we do if Jesus had not taken the just punishment for all our sins.
Let Jesus be your model of love and suffer for your lover.
Die to yourself by giving and not taking.
Die by giving up bad habits and doing godly acts that build your lover. Be always ready to give strength and hope to your lover.
If you have to suffer to keep your relationship exciting, do not change a thing.
Being in a fulfilling relationship is the best thing that could happen to you but love costs and you must be prepared to pay the price if you want to stay in love.
There is nothing like free love. Suffer to love and love to suffer.
This is true, one that never fails.