"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
If you've ever been to a wedding, chances are, you will associate the above verses with the most faithful love. The words seem so romantic and idealistic...love is gentle; love is respectful; love is selfless; love is cheerful; love lets go of what annoys or hurts; love is honest; love perseveres. It is such a dreamy and optimistic image. It makes one think, "if only I could experience that kind of love, I would be safe, settled, and secure for the rest of my life." Those words become the goal for many women seeking the "Prince Charming" kind of relationship.
This is the season of Valentine's Day and romance...but I'm going to get real here for a minute or two. I've been thinking about this scripture lately, and these are not light, dreamy, or in any way simple words to live by - they are hard and real and raw. I want to walk through each of these statements about love and look at them from an honest perspective.
Number one: "Love is patient and kind." Being patient is hard, especially when humans hurt you.
Number two: "Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude." When you feel insecure, judged, or offended (which can happen daily in a relationship with another person), you get defensive (which can come off as boastful, proud, and rude! Yikes..)
"It does not demand its own way." The average person in a committed love relationship tries not to outwardly push for his or her own way, but down deep, we desire to have our wants and needs met, and whether outwardly or not, we can get demanding when we don't get our way.
Number four: "It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged." LOL, we never get irritable, and we never keep a mental list of hurts, do we girls?
"It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out." We have seen a lot of injustice in the world lately, and we definitely will never rejoice over that.
But what about in the context of something "unfair" that might sway to your benefit in a relationship? Like, you got to choose the movie to watch on Netflix six nights in a row. You are really going to enjoy that "injustice," right? And do you always rejoice over the truth in your relationships? Sometimes with our children, for example, we might participate in a "white lie" like Santa Claus because it's for the fun of it, for the sake of the joy of Christmas morning surprises. The results are all kinds of disappointment from all different angles when the truth comes out about that one...
Number five: "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." Unfortunately, as much as we want to be, we just can't always feel like sticking it out through a challenging situation, we lose our faith and hope in the promises from a wedding day, and enduring just can become really, really hard, especially when circumstances become intolerable or just really hit our soft spots.
So, as you can see, I have been noticing this particular section of scripture isn't exactly easy, dreamy or romantic, when you get down to the reality of human relationships. People are intrinsically selfish (see Adam and Eve); the people you love the most have the most power to let you down or hurt you, and when you feel let down, you lose your faith and determination to fight sometimes.....BUT, WAIT FOR IT.....
ARE YOU READY FOR THE GOOD NEWS??!!! As I become a mature lady of 54 years old, this scripture is not about US at all!!!! It is not about humans, who will fail at every tall order listed here, no matter how much of a "saint" you are! The real truth is, THESE VERSES ARE ABOUT JESUS!!! Whoa, what a REVELATION, huh?!!
As I read these words in the context of Jesus and the love that He represents and encourages us to participate in, they become the most beautiful and inspiring, hopeful words we can study!! Check this out; let's look at the words as if they refer to the love that Jesus offers and inspires...
● JESUS is patient and kind. Always, and unconditionally. No matter what we do or don't do.
● JESUS is not boastful or proud or rude. The way he was treated during his time on earth, I just can't believe it. Still, if you read his words, he was unconditionally and consistently gentle, calm, and matter-of-fact when debating with the Pharisees or anyone else who was questioning him...
● JESUS does not demand his own way. When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing what was to come, he submitted his fate to the Father's plan, even though he knew how painful it would be.
● JESUS is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged. He was betrayed by his best friends and family. They doubted him, questioned him, and turned their backs on him when he needed them most.
But he continued to encourage them and forgive them. He does the same for us every day as we turn away from him and go our own way.
● JESUS does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. He says over and over that the Kingdom of God is coming, where there will be peace, and joy, and equality. That was his purpose on earth, to show the new way to seek justice and mercy and truth in a broken world.
● JESUS never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Thank heaven for that. My goodness, for all he experienced in his human life on earth, it would seem he deserved to give up, lose faith, lose hope and give up on us and on his daunting mission. But he never did, and how blessed are we for that!?
When I look at that dreamy, romantic "wedding verse" in that context, I am blown away!
What an honor to have a Lord of our lives who expresses love in that way! What an inspiration to apply those principles to our lives, no matter how hard it can be! When I read those verses in that way, with Jesus being the ultimate manifestation of what love is, I am inspired and motivated to never give up, never lose faith, never lose hope, and endure every circumstance!!
I love you ladies, and I pray that this "season of love" greets you with an awareness of the most beautiful love relationship you can enjoy - a personal connection and understanding of the perfect love of the Savior of the world!!
Happy Valentines Day to my favorite "gal pals"!!
Be blessed and always know just how LOVED you are!