“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13
This scripture in the New Testament is such a great definition of what love is. It is rarely lived up to. But today for a change I thought I would examine it and put out a call to raise the level of love we put in our relationships.
What is love?
Patient: Patience is calmly enduring pain, trials, discomfort, opposition and difficulty without complaining. When you are patient you stay calm when the one you love is pushing your buttons. You don’t complain when they give you a situation that frustrates you. I am not saying that you stuff your feelings but you come from a place of love and tolerance.
Kind is characterized by a sympathetic, helpful and gentle nature. When you are kind in a relationship you think about the others needs and find ways to lift their burdens, serve them and help lift them up. You show sympathy and concern when they suffer.
Love is not:
Boastful, when someone boasts they puff themselves up in speech often to put the other down. When you love you don’t say I was right you were wrong because you love the other person and don’t want to make the other person to feel bad. You don’t always need to be right.
Proud: Being proud is not entirely bad, you should have a healthy self-respect but again love does not lord their strength or accomplishments to make someone feel less about themselves. You don’t make yourself feel good at someone’s expense.
Does not dishonor others: To honor means to hold in high regard. When we treat people we love in a way that diminishes them or disrespects them we are not honoring them.
Self-seeking, when you love someone you look for ways to meet their needs and not only yours. We all need to take care of ourselves but when we love another we learn not to put ourselves above others. In healthy relationships you would both will be doing this.
Easily angered, this one is challenging for a lot of people. It is when you stop and truly listen, have compassion and walk in someone’s shoes before you react that you can change this behavior. If you choose not to react but instead respond in love then this will no longer be an issue.
Keeps no records of wrongs. How often when in an argument we bring up some obscure infraction from the past? Love wipes the slate clean. It is like it never happened. Humans are the only species that make ourselves and others pay for the consequences of our mistakes over and over. Other species pay once, then it is done. We can learn a lot from that. We are not our past mistakes.
Does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. This makes me think of gossip. When we share in the guise of venting the negative things we feel about someone who we love that hurt us we are stepping on slippery ground. We love, we want to build up others and not tear them down. Which goes with love honors another. Think about how you represent people you love to others. Do you only share when they mess up? Do you also revel in their strengths and catch them doing good and share about that as well.
Protects: when we protect we cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction those we love. When we love we got their back. We look ahead and when we see them making choices or in destructive relationships we have the courage to speak the truth even if it is uncomfortable. We risk our comfort to protect and are willing to go out of our way to do what is needed to keep them safe, even if it is against themselves.
Trusts: when we trust we demonstrate assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. We are confident in the character of the other and give them the benefit of the doubt. We are not quick to judgment or making assumptions because we believe the best. We ask questions and when we get answers we believe in the person.
Hopes: When we hope we have a great desire for the best for another and we wait with expectation in faith that good things will happen for them. We believe the best in them and expect the best from them. We want the best for them.
Perseveres: when we persevere we persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement. We don’t give up on people even if it is hard, even if it feels hopeless we persist.
Why? Because love never fails.
My Challenge: This is the level of love that we are called to; will you challenge yourself to demonstrate these qualities in your relationships? Ask yourself where can I love more and use these guides as a gauge to call yourself to love more. I know I still have work to do in many of these areas. I will take this challenge and I am determined to be the love in this scripture. Be the love I was created to be, who will join me?
Maria Elena Escobar