We’ve all been there. Sitting at that wedding, marveling at how pretty everything is, how wonderful this day is. Suddenly a close family friend gets up to read some scripture, and we hear “Love is patient, love is kind…”
Now don’t get me wrong. These words are beautiful. The truth they express humbles me. But they have also become a bit of a cliche at weddings, and their meaning can get eclipsed by the frequency with which they are invoked.
I was driving home tonight and caught a little segment in which Francesca Battistelli spoke about this verse. I thought, oh great, some more “Love is” to listen to. But what she had to say made me stop and think, and then made me realize afresh just how blessed I am.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What happens to this scripture if we use it to assess our relationships, be they potential, or current, or with ourselves? What if I were to use this scripture to pray thanks over my husband, and instead say:
4 Ben is patient, Ben is kind. Ben does not envy, Ben does not boast, Ben is not proud. 5 Ben does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, Ben keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Ben does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 Ben always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What if I were to teach my daughter to look at any crush and put his name in the place of love, what standards might she hold him to, what standards might she expect of herself?
Or if I were to add my name to this.
4 Sarah is patient, Sarah is kind. Sarah does not envy, Sarah does not boast, Sarah is not proud. 5 Sarah does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, Sarah keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Sarah does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 Sarah always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What standards might I hold myself to? What might I expect of myself in not just my home life, or at church, but when I’m at work or in the line at the grocery store? Can I truly say all of these things about myself?
And since I hold no stock in guilt or shame, I will not use these words to condemn myself for the day’s actions. Nor will I use them to pick holes at my character. I will hold them high and walk with pride, as I pursue these words, as I wrestle with these words, as I see my faith lived out in my actions. I will not use these words to shackle myself in guilt, but to liberate myself into living a fuller life.
That’s what love is after all.