Love is Patient, As Long As I’ve Had My Coffee

I don’t have a bunch of resolutions this year. I mean, maybe I should start opening my mail. I open the pretty envelopes and the ones that feel like they have gift cards in them, but I am talking about the white skinny envelopes with the plastic peephole showing my address. I should open those.

I could refrain from eating cereal and snack foods in bed and sleeping amongst crumbs.

I could stop using our kitchen table as the landfill of the house.

I could throw away empty dressing bottles instead of putting them back in the fridge.

I suppose I could eat a little healthier, drink more water, be on my phone less.

Sure.

But lately I’ve been thinking about how I loved in 2018. How I loved my husband, friends, family, students, and strangers.

We have 1 Corinthians 13 written on a cute canvas on a wall in our dining room.

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You know,

Love is Patient, Love is Kind. etc.

I read it almost daily as I mindlessly chew my food.

Love does not envy.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

I heard it at a wedding this weekend.

Love does not boast.

It is not self seeking.

1 Corinthians 13 gives us the recipe for carrying out love in this world – perfect, unconditional love for broken and flawed people.

As I reflect on how I did in this area over the past year, I get a little discouraged.

How can I know the recipe so thoroughly yet carry it out so poorly?

I think back on my marriage, my friendships, my family relationships, my interactions with students and I  realize I have added my own spin to this passage.

I’ve been mostly living a version that  makes more sense to me, feels fairer to me and is a heck of a lot easier to carry out. 

My version goes a little something like this:

Love is patient, as long as I’m caffeinated and had a good day at work. And am hitting mostly green lights.

Love is kind, when you are kind to me first. 

It does not envy, as long as I’m succeeding and feel secure in my own accomplishments and relationships.

It does not boast, but if you haven’t seen all the things I’ve done then I might need to do a few humble brags.

It is not proud, after an hour or six of silently brooding and going through scenarios in my head in which you are probably wrong and I am right.

It does not dishonor others, but a little gossip doesn’t feel too bad.

It is not self seeking when I feel like my needs are met well and you picked the movie last time.

It is not easily angered – okay I have no witty add on for this one. This is my worst area. I am offended 600 times a day for ridiculous reasons.

It keeps no records of wrongs, as long as my wrongs and your wrongs feel about equal in quantity and severity.

The verses in this passage, without my cute little additions, describe a counter-cultural, selfless, incredibly challenging Biblical love. The verses say that your good and well-being should be more important to me than my good and well-being and that the way I treat you should show that.

The way I love you should point you to the Most Perfect Love there is.

Yet, the conditions that I often put on the love I give others is not a representation of the love God has shown me.

It is a cheap, self-centered imitation that prioritizes my own needs and happiness above everything and everyone else.

God loves us perfectly and unconditionally. Enough to cover our wrongdoings and shortcomings with the blood of His Son.

I can offer Him nothing, yet He gives me everything.

I fail Him constantly, but His grace and His love cover me.

So I don’t have a bunch of resolutions this year. But I do need to love a lot more like Jesus, and I know the absolute only way I am capable of demonstrating this kind of love is by fully relying on Him for it.

I can’t think of anything this world needs more than selfless, Christ-like love. And it starts with me.

Opening the mail can wait, but I really think this one can’t.

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