I saw this post on Pinterest not too long ago and I loved the simple wisdom held within. If you are looking for true love, you should probably know how to define love. In the American culture love is more often than not defined by feelings and butterflies and glitter hearts and cupids in diapers. Logically, I know that perfect love can only be found in the person of Christ but how can we truly show love to those around us? As broken, messed up people dealing with broken, messed up people, this can be a challenge. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says that we should do everything, romantic or not, in love, so in this week of love let me ask…What is love?
Love is PATIENT...
Patience seems to be a hard topic for anyone living in such a fast paced, get it done NOW society. Believe me, as the queen of impatience, I should know. I get so frustrated waiting on something or someone. I will drive halfway around the world, down some back country road, just so I don't have to sit aimlessly at a long red light. Now, how sad is that? It seems to be how we are all programmed now and unfortunately this has filtered over into our concept of love.
Obviously patience is needed in any relationship, whether with a spouse, friend, child or co-worker. However, I think there is a great significance in this word being the first description of love. Maybe you not only need to be patient with those you love but also patient in finding love.
Love is KIND...
Kindness, ah, easier than patience and yet I fail miserably at lot of the time. We “church” people have perfected the “Kindness to Others” clause. We have mission trips and soup kitchens; we collect toys for the orphans and visit the shut ins. We seem to care so much for the needy yet we often forget those under our noses like friends, family and coworkers. I once heard a man say that he was so caught up in his own life that he didn't even realize he was stepping over people to get in the church doors. It's funny how the very ones we care the most for are the very ones we seem to treat the worst.
For most of us, we know that those who truly care for us will still love us even if we’re jerks so we let our emotions out on them when we surely wouldn’t treat someone else that way. I have also realized that while I love doing little kindnesses for coworkers, friends and such I often forget that I can do the same for those closest to me. If we can all show simple kindnesses to the ones we love maybe we could start to fix some of the hurting in this world.
Love DOES NOT ENVY...
Envy can be the foundation of trouble and some Bible versions say that love is not jealous which falls in the same lines. Reading this section, I know that in the context of a God-centered relationship these words refer to the trust and respect that is necessary for a healthy functioning love. But as a single woman these words speak to me from the standpoint of being jealous of what others have that I may desperately want.
We all have those days when everywhere we look we see couples, every television show is about weddings and every commercial is about love. You know what I am talking about? Those moments when you smile and laugh and tell your friend how happy you are that she has found the love of her life, when in reality you would kind of like to see her trip in public. Those days that include great Aunt Sally asking for the ten thousandth time WHY you are not married yet. Those days that end with hanging out with two of my favorite men- Ben and Jerry. But before we knock back another pint of Chunky Monkey, let's re-evaluate the situation.
First and foremost, regardless of what it may seem, the world is not out to get you. The couples have not come out to parade in front of you. Television networks have not been taken over by Bridezillas. Advertisers are not in on a conspiracy to make you cry every night and great Aunt Sally is really just concerned because she was married at the age of fifteen...granted it was 1904.
Everyone has to wait and work for something. Some marry their high school sweetheart and have two wait ten years to have children. Others lose their love early in life and live the single life for more years than they were married. And some like me, wait for what seems like an eternity, to find the one God has purposed for them. We all wait, but if we wait on the Lord as described in Psalm 62:5, (“My soul, wait, silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.”) the waiting will be worth it. I used to think that the RIGHT person would come at the RIGHT time but as I’ve grown in the Lord I’ve realized the right PURPOSE will come at the right time.
While it is easy to be jealous of my best friend for finding the love of her life years before me, if I stop and truly think about it outside of my emotions, I’m not truly jealous of her because I don’t want the love of HER life...I want the love of MY life and the true purpose that the Lord has for me. We have to accept that God has perfect knowledge and perfect timing. Don't let envy screw up what he has planned and don't let the one thing you don't have ruin everything you do have. Try to find the joy in all you currently have because there were probably moments in your past when you were praying so desperately for some of the blessings you currently possess.
Love DOES NOT BOAST...
Boasting seems to be the foundation of our social media driven culture and causes more hang ups than I would have thought possible when I signed up for Facebook fifteen years ago. In light of that, I think that this concept comes in three parts.
First, in a relationship, any relationship, recognition is needed. Give praise but also, wait for praise to be given. For example, I love writing cards thanking people for the little things they do so don't steal someone's thunder by tooting your own horn. Allow appreciation to be shown and give it in return. For the most part, here in the south, we are raised to be “humble” so this seems like a given but what I have found is when people portray their relationships on social media this concept goes out the window.
Make sure that what you portray in public is truth and that you are careful about airing all your business. Even when we have great things to say about our loved ones, something about the mirror of social media makes people over exaggerate the good and the bad. We start expecting the reality of our relationships to reflect the perfection that is portrayed to all our “friends”. Be careful not to fall into the trap of boasting.
Second, don't forget what it is like to be single. Right now that may seem like a funny concept if you are single but you would be surprised how easily this can happen. I know when you find Mr. Thing you will want to shout it from the rooftops and it is wonderful to be excited...you should be excited! It's like every Christmas morning rolled into one. However, remember how you felt being single. Don't hurt a friend unintentionally by showing off or excluding her. I had a friend in college that treated me like I had a contagious disease after she got engaged. She would actually invite our entire bible study group to a party and tell us all how fabulous it was going to be and then turn to me and say, “I would invite you but since you are single and the rest of us are couples I don't want you to be alone at the party.”, because sitting at home alone was the far more pleasant option? I remember feeling that I must be some kind of loser if she didn't even think I was interesting without a companion or that I couldn’t round up some sort of date for the night. It really hurt my feelings and quite honestly messed with my mind. If my friends didn't find me worthy, how could a man?
Remember, that you were just as fun and exciting single as you are now. Chances are this sister was there for you long before Mr. Thing and will probably be there when Mr. Thing makes you cry so don't leave her out in the cold just because she doesn't come in twos. This is not the ark and you are not Noah!
Third and most importantly, watch who gets credit for your relationship and its blessings. We have the tendency to beg God for a partner only to get one and brag about how WE found them. It was OUR looks or personality or humor. Believe me if it was up to me alone to find a man I would be in trouble...BIG trouble. Seriously, think back on the guys you liked in high school or even college. Would you still be happy with them today? Are they as wonderful as you originally thought they were? I cringe when I think of what my life would be like if I had life the way I wanted. We all have “choosers”. You know, the thing inside of us that helps us “choose” a mate. However, my “chooser” has been broken at times.
Luckily we have access to the most amazing “chooser” of all time. God sees the whole picture. He knows where you are going and where Mr. Thing is going. He knows what works and what doesn't. It is like we are looking at the world through a paper towel tube. All we see is what is right in front of us. God, however, can see it all. He has the whole story figured out, after all He is the one doing the writing.
So give credit where credit is due. God will wait to answer a prayer or fulfill a promise until there is no one else who can get credit. Just ask Sarah. Being a mother in her nineties probably wasn't on the to do list (Isaiah 21). It was a completely illogical thing to even consider but our God is not a logical God. He is a real God. He never said it would make sense only that it would be right. If you can grasp that point it takes a lot of pressure off of you. It's not your job to go out and find a man. It is your job to be the amazing woman God has purposed. You can be purposeful and truly live your best life but the rest is in His very capable hands.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 later this week.