Love Requires Choice

Quite often, our love is measured in sacrifice.

When we think about what love means, it is easy to conjure ideas about all of the things we give and receive in its name. We imagine the time, energy, and emotion that we put into our relationships and, in the same thought, we imagine how that investment is or will be reciprocated. Love, we imagine, is a two-way street, a limitless cycle of giving and receiving for mutual benefit.

We know that when we give of ourselves to those we love, we will feel good about having done so. Beyond that, we know that witnessing the joy of those we love when they receive what we have to offer will uplift us even further. And yet, within this giving, there is also the natural hope that it will not be one-sided and that we will benefit from such care, kindness, and generosity returned back to us in some form or another.

While both giving and even receiving are essential facets of any loving relationship, it is actually what we are willing to give up for others with no expectation of reciprocity that is the true measure, and also the true test, of our love. Love’s deepest and most raw, even painful, manifestation is self-sacrifice. In order for such sacrifices to truly come from a place of love, however, they can not be demanded of us, they can not be manipulated out of us, and they can not be negotiated for because love, in its purest form, is an informed, willful decision to give.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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