Too many people are over this coming weekend and week going to hear these life changing words: “I love you.”
I love you. How many times we rehearse those words in our heads when we are in love, waiting for the best moment to say or type them. Words we mindlessly utter on phone to the wife or husband of 15 years because we know we are expected to say them. Words we hopefully say to our children to remind them that we we would sell our souls on their behalf- well, almost. Words we forget to say enough times to the people we should say them to- our God, our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends, our brothers in faith, the weak among us, the lonely…
Every time I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 on love, I find myself copying the verses, word for word, back into my notebook. This last week I was thinking about how Paul defined what it means to love, and compared that to how I love my children and secondly, how I love a certain difficult relative.
Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not conceited/does not boil over with anger/does not crave self interest, not proud, not ill mannered/rude, not selfish, not irritable/easily angered; it does not keep a record of wrong, it is not happy with evil but rejoices with truth. Love never gives up. It always protects, always trusts, endures all things, hopes in all things and never fails. Love is eternal.
As you tell someone, “I love you” this Valentine, check your heart against this benchmark. If you told someone I love you, if you are in a love relationship, and if you are supposed to be loving someone, check your heart against this benchmark.
My growth areas is communicating kindness, patience and no anger/irritability to my children. The list with my husband is longer: I pray that my love will be kind, will not be easily angered, will admit when I am wrong, will not crave self interest,will keep no record of wrongs no mater how many times they are repeated, will always protect, always trust, always hope… that my love will never fail my husband.
For my other relative with whom I am in a difficult relationship with, I seriously need to stop keeping a record of wrongs, to be patient and kind and to always hope.
I have recently totally forgiven and released someone who keeps hurting me, yet has never asked for my forgiveness, actually doesn’t even deserve the forgiveness. God forgave me and called me into his family when I was most undeserving. I can’t truly claim to love if I keep holding an age-long grudge.
Loving people like this without God’s help is impossible. Our hearts are selfish, catch feelings ovyo ovyo and remember wrongs done to us in nursery school. We always want to ask, “why me?” Why should I be the one being thoughtful, forgiving, initiating conversation, giving despite many broken promises, holding on even when everyone else thinks that ship is sunk?
God’s love flows through us, healing us, forgiving us, comforting us; and we can channel the love to our partners, our children, our relatives our friends. Because God’s love never runs dry, ours too can be eternal because we are being filled at the source whenever we feel like we are running low.
If you are running low on love for people God is calling you to love unconditionally, now you know where to get a refill so you can send the Valentine forwards, SMS, flowers etc and truly mean the words you say.