Love is... Part 2
Welcome back to reflection on what defines love, specifically in the context of 1 Corinthians 13. If you missed the first part of this series check out yesterday's post.
Love is NOT PROUD...
Pride comes before the fall. How often have we been warned of this and yet pride is one of the most difficult things we struggle with as humans? I feel that women often struggle more with pride in relation to family, relationships and organizations than men do. Men are often prideful about THEIR car, THEIR fish, THEIR capability to bench press a small water buffalo. This is one of the things that drives their competitiveness. It makes them unique and amusing. Women on the other hand love to brag about their kids, best friend, husband and church. Think about it. How many times have you seen this status on Facebook? “I'm so proud of Sally! She went potty like a big girl!” What is it about those we love that make us react this way?
In high school, my brother went to a small little school in Mississippi. It was the quintessential small town. The sidewalks rolled up on Friday night for football games. Everybody knew everybody else and you could walk almost anywhere. It was just like so many other Mississippi towns except for one thing. The baseball team was good, like amazingly good. They won four state championships back to back. They were surrounded by college and pro scouts. They set a new state record for going undefeated and they were number one in the nation! This miniscule little town had somehow received a super dose of athletic ability and my brother was fortunate enough to be counted among them. During his years with the Bobcats we all seemed to bleed blue and gold. We kept stats and traveled hundreds of miles to watch the boys play. Everything they did seemed amazing. Our cars had Bobcat stickers, magnets, flags and tags. We had shirts, blankets, jackets and hats. There were even people in town who had golf carts painted blue and gold with Bobcats paws strictly to drive to game day.
You could say we had a little bit of pride. However, with all the excitement the team was put on a pedestal by many. What started out as team pride turned into horrible pressure to be an impossible ideal. The season after the Bobcats went undefeated they lost one game...ONE. You would have thought the world ended, not for the boys but for the fans. Winning had become an all or nothing concept. Either they were perfect or worthless. Many seemed to forget that their perfect team wasn't perfect...they were human and high school boys at that. People had their pride so wrapped up in wanting perfection that they were actually disappointed when we won state and were number one in the nation because we had lost one game out of sixty-eight!
It is feminine nature to romanticize anything, including our relationships, only to get angry when they don't turn out the way we planned. Relationships are hard enough without putting them on an unrealistic, wobbly pedestal. In life, you will be disappointed and you will disappoint. However, there is one lover who will never disappoint us and who will never leave us even though we disappoint Him.
I'm afraid that we become so proud of what we have found and how wonderful Mr. Thing is that we begin to live in a fairy tale only without the fairy tale ending. Life is not a fairy tale. Most men don't own a white horse. Actually most men nowadays couldn't ride a horse. Don't allow yourself to become so proud of what you have that you forget who gave it to you. God is love and created love. His love will not disappoint and will always fulfill. Rest your heart in Him and His plan and don’t think your fulfillment can come from anywhere else.
One more personal thought on pride… Might I suggest that you don’t let your own personal pride get in the way of allowing others (or a man) into your life. Vulnerability is scary but it is necessary in relationships. Don’t allow your desire to seem perfect or like you have your life 100% together keep you from the intimate relationship you so desperately crave. Fear and lack of confidence often have their deepest roots in pride. Trust me! I speak from personal experience.
Love is NOT RUDE…
Webster’s defines rudeness as uncourteous, savage and vulgar. If you are in a relationship, be it romantic or not, where someone regularly treats you in this manner it is not love. If they are rude to you and you don’t think, “Wow, something is off.” or “Man, they are having a bad day.” then you need to sincerely consider the future of that companionship. As women, we often make excuses for how someone acts or justify the bad moments because they can be kind to you as well but if the norm of the relationship contains impoliteness, brashness and offensiveness, they are not truly loving you and for your mental and emotional health you might need to get out or at least address it.
Also, something I learned the hard way, is that people can change into the rude, offensive person even after a long time. I had a friend that had been a big part of my life for close to a decade and had been such a source of joy and encouragement. However, due to some personal decisions on her part she became incredibly unhappy in her own life and incredibly rude to me. In fact, the word savage would be a great descriptor. I held on to that friendship far passed its sell by date out of the sentiment and hope that the old friend would return but I finally realized she was doing more harm than the relationship was worth. Be willing to re-evaluate even those relationships that have a deep rooted history.
Love DOESN’T DEMAND ITS OWN WAY…
All relationships have compromise and if they don’t they aren’t balanced and someone is getting hurt. I don’t care if you’re at work, with girlfriends or your significant other, if you are only concerned with getting your way you are doing a disservice to those around you.
I know we can all be selfish at times and we are more susceptible in certain areas but James 3:16 reminds us that, “...where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Does this mean you should compromise on everything? Definitely not but this goes back to learning the difference between a person who cares for you and one who benefits from you hanging around. Those are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Love is NOT IRRITABLE…
Irritable, cantankerous, cross, disagreeable, cranky, grouchy. Those are not on my list of potential match characteristics or what I want to deal with in a friend. This is one of the big truths the Lord hit me with about a year and a half ago. I was the embodiment of all of those words and more. I thought I was looking for love but the truth is I wasn’t reflecting it at all so any potential love was running for the hills. I realized that I was exactly the opposite of what I wanted and if I hoped to attract a godly man I was going to have to get my head and heart on straight! Luckily, the Lord has been working on me ever since and I have come to truly appreciate what it means to love and be loved… and to not be a butthead!
Love KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS…
Some say love is blind. I think they’re wrong but I do believe love has to be forgiving. All friendships, families and romantic partnerships go through tough times and often that is because of a misstep on the part of one or more parties so forgiveness is an integral part of a healthy relationship. Don’t hold someone to a standard you couldn’t possibly meet and don’t make them pay for sins long after they have set them right. I know that is easier said than done but God is capable of doing some amazing healing if we are willing to be healed but sometimes we want to hold on to that anger which does no good in the long run. A mentor of mine once told me that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person died. It only harms you.
Please note that just because you forgive someone and let go doesn’t mean you continually put yourself in a bad situation. I’ve heard people try to use this as a reason to stay in a relationship or in contact with someone when the reality is that person is not healthy for you. The Lord does not call you to stay somewhere that you are not safe physically, mentally or emotionally. He only asks you to let go of the bitterness and anger so He can hold you and heal you for your sake, not theirs! If in doubt, seek godly counsel on the best way to proceed.
Love DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL BUT REJOICES IN TRUTH…
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Of course, love doesn’t delight in evil. Who delights in evil outside of an evil person?!? However, maybe the reality is seen more in the translation of not taking delight in injustice and rejoicing in the truth. 1 Corinthians 16:14 tells us that we should do everything in love and when you consider how we react in our day to day lives that doesn’t always seem to be our motive. How often do you do stuff that you know will aggravate someone? Someone rides your tail so you drop down to five below the speed limit, not because you are being a conscientious driver but because you know it’s going to irritate the tar out of them. What about the tone you use with that coworker that you dislike without a real good reason? How about being vindictive or petty? None of these things would be considered truly harmful but they also don’t show love and they don’t reflect the truth of how we should live as Christians.
Check back on Valentine’s Day, for the final post of 1 Corinthians 13.