It’s February. And in this season of love cliches I want to talk about the four decisions that have helped me win at love. Let me tell you about the word DECIDE.

I learned from the marvelous Rabbi Naomi Levy that the word decide is an extension of the Latin word CIDE, which means to remove from or kill off. For example, CIDE is the root of the word pesticide (to kill a pest.) To decide to love something or someone means we are choosing to remove or cut off other options.

All our life we are faced with so many decisions about what we want, and love, in life. Apple or Android? Coke or Pepsi? The Beatles or Rolling Stones? A side of French Fries or healthy green vegetables? (I always choose French fries.) But it makes me anxious to eliminate possibilities. I’m a girl who always likes to keep my options open.

This is what I’ve learned about winning at love. We must make hard choices. Because love says, “choose me.” “Be ridiculously, all consuming, can’t live without it, in love for this moment – or this lifetime.”

Today, look at love through the lens of decision-making. It’s easy to get confused with the mixed messages about love. Love songs insist: “All We Need Is Love,” yet “Love is a Battlefield.” My husband and I have “A Groovy Kind of Love.” (This was our wedding song.) But if you believe in this “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” you must make some important decisions about it.

1) Decide with WHOM you will share your biggest commitments of love. This is not a game where everyone gets an award for participation. Choose! Yes, there are babies, best friends, and puppies that want your heart. And, you don’t have to choose just one. But decide (set aside) those that should fall outside of your intimate heart-space instead of living with uncertainty keeping some waiting in the wings, just in case. From the moment we’re born our soul is reaching for, longing for, other souls to love. Start by choosing yourself to love. This lays the foundation for loving others and making better choices.

2) Decide WHO God created you to be, capable of loving. Take inventory. Choose the best part of you to bring to love. Not the helpless victim. Not the insecure child. Not the power hungry control freak. Find and choose the innocent, healthy and whole part of you to bring to your love.

3) Decide WHAT to love. Sometimes when I am with someone who on the outside seems very unlovable I choose to love the blameless spirit they were born with. I remove the ugly, scary person before me. Oh I know that person is still there, but I remove this part of them from my mind and let my spirit connect with what is, or once was, lovable about them. Scary, yes, But love doesn’t always protect us. It is meant to connect us.

4) Finally, do you tell people you love them? What’s this about – this idea that we can’t be the first person to say “I love you?” Or that if we say it too often it will dilute its power? Love isn’t about power. If you love someone, say it. Love is like water. We need water. We die without it. Sure people take it for granted. But just because they do doesn’t mean I’m going to withhold it from them. Likewise, don’t withhold the words, “I love you.” It may make you feel better, safer, and more powerful if you do. But people – including you – die without these words. There are so many sarcastic or hurtful things we say to each other. Decide to say, in some way, I love you. My father-in-law rarely said these actual words. I’d say, “I love you Dad.” And his eyes would crinkle and tear up. His voice would crack. And he would hug me hard and whisper, “Yep, yep, me too.”  That was his way, to say “I love you.”

I realized most of my questions about life are really questions about love. We live with the vague sense that there is more to life. We’re right. There is. Some say, “My heart is broken.” The truth is our hearts are not broken. They are merely re-configuring to bring us back to who God created us to be in the first place. Inviting love into your life takes practice. But today, decide to follow the call of your heart, and everyday go towards a life of love.