Monday, August 15, 2011

Love... enduring. It isn't fragile. It is....

...patient .
(PATIENT: "longsuffering, having a
'large soul'--BIG enough to absorb insult and injury like Jesus.")

Love is kind.
(gentle, tender, affectionate. It wishes well.)

It isn't envious,
or boastful,
or arrogant,

...or rude.
(Loving means to give myself up...not ever taking something from others rashly.
Love gives graciously...even when they don't deserve it.)

Love does not insist on its own way.
It is not irritable.
It is never resentful or bitter.
It never delights in wrongdoing.
It always rejoices in truth.

~These are words that cut me deeply. All at once, they produce sorrow and regret, inspire change and hopefulness and bring awareness of my continual need to be transformed.

Mostly, I fail on this love rubric in ridiculous moments of insignificance. Finding that I am just a little bit under appreciated and slightly used, I add a few things to my secret "list of ways others have wronged me and/or those I love." And then, when I am too small to bear this burden of (insignificant) injury, I speak or act out of resentment and my own increasingly irritable mood. I suppose I'm just acting out of boredom and selfishness, when I allow my mind to discover small injuries in which to plant resentment. Sometimes the injuries are bigger, and it's easier to justify my angry list making. In those circumstances, I probably plant my bitterness a little deeper and even nurture it happily, feeling SO right in my anger. I do this destructive planting, with full knowledge... that LOVE cannot be nourished in my life, cannot grow or bear any fruit...if my heart makes room for any of these things that it 'is not.'

This "Love is not _____ List" may be one of the most practical sets of words to meditate on.

But really, my favorite words come later.
The words that help me understand just a little bit better just how wide and how long and how high is the the love of Christ...

...bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never fails.

I just can't get over this beautiful picture of love
and holding up
Hoping (instead of despairing).

... without end.

How ugly and small and foolish....seem all the selfish, delusions of "love" that I am so prone to run toward. How disgusting is my selfishness and pettiness, my doubt and worry... in light of this enormous and powerful picture of LOVE.

I think Paul was kind of ranting on the many ways that love (was then, and) is so often misrepresented and mistaken for cheaper versions of 'happiness' and shallow attraction to things and relationships that seem like they will satisfy. The word 'love' is even used to disguise and justify our most hurtful, self-gratifying, manipulative, destructive acts.

This misrepresentation of love, this epidemic blindness to, and distortion of love sometimes make me feel hopeless. When I look around and see too many broken things, I tend to put people and circumstances and problems into compartments in my mind that to me, are beyond the reach of love. They seem unsolvable and too ugly to be healed by love, so I try to harden my heart around them so that they don't hurt quite as much, and I am not surprised and disappointed by the destruction and loss. But no matter how I might harden my heart and forget what I know to be true....

LOVE still...

...bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Love never fails.

...thoughts I needed to remember from this morning's teaching from I Corinthians 13.

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