Whether you’re a christian or not you’ve probably heard of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Maybe even read it for yourself but if you haven’t don’t fret, I’ve quoted it below.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Love is all the things you can choose daily. Patience, kindness, gentleness, support, an easy-going nature, etc. Listen it mostly sounds like a trap because it goes against our human fight or flight nature. It also ends in love never ends. A trap. According to this text what dies may be the butterflies in your tummy or your desire to be patient, kind & gentle but never LOVE itself.
The text also says nothing about the behavior of the people you are relating to. It says nothing about how well they do or don’t treat you. Trap.
Love is kind of like how you relate to your child/ren. You are careful with how you maintain your relationship with them, you are more patient, more kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant or rude. You become careful in the way you correct them when they are wrong. You hurt when they hurt. You endure all things with them. Failure, illness, bad behavior. You hope the very best outcomes for them. All things we should inhabit even for those we think should be mature enough not to invoke negative responses.
Using a different example, this is why this model of love sounds right to me. As a 30 year old man you meet a 27 year old woman. Her dad passed away when she was 17. Maybe her dad was a great provider. Gave her everything she ever needed (not wanted). But your dad was never in the home. So your image of a healthy father may be distorted and perhaps growing up everyone in your family tended to sort themselves out. She comes into your life wanting a man that can provide for her and her children but your lessons were different. Without patience and gentleness, working through those issues is a chore. But as a man, at some point in your relationship, you may need to play dad to a 17 year old girl. And similarly she needs to understand that her expectations of you are ‘unfair’.
In a different example as a 40 year old woman you marry a 45 year old man who lost his mom when he was only 20. So his comprehension of an older woman may be tied up with mom. You have to accept that sometimes in your relationship you may need to be a mother to a 20 year old young man in order to move your lives forward. Not the 45 year old man you married. Our ideas about family and love are formed by what we’ve been immersed in.
And although I’ve used examples centered on loss, what if as a woman you grow up without a dad, or an alcoholic dad or a workaholic single mom. Or as a man you grow up with 7 other siblings in a family where both parents work, or you grow up with siblings that are much younger so you end up playing dad to them. These occur in many different combinations and whichever your story is, the presence of love is the only way we work our way through.
Patient, kind, does not envy or boast. Is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it’s own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it pleased with truth, does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. It does not end.
So while I look for a reference text about reciprocation to validate all of our resentment or anger or contempt, let’s challenge each other to more love.
What does love mean to you?