What is Love? (Part 1)
Updated: May 18, 2019
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1 Corinthians 13:4
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance". (NLT)
"Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first", doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end" (MSG)
LOVE IS PATIENT
Wow - that is a hard one right off the bat! For full disclosure, just know that this is something I (Heather) struggle with a lot! I do think I have gotten better as I've gotten older, but man - this one is hard for me! First, we need to understand what patience is; the definition I found on Google states "able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious". So how can we exercise patience in our relationships?
Relationships and life in general are filled with delays, problems and suffering. That is just part of the package. People are going to be late; it's going to take longer than we think it should to do something; finances can get tight or become a point of contention; someone can lose a job; the basement can flood; people get sick (sometimes very sick); people can have mental health issues; you may suffer the loss of a loved one. If you're married and you said traditional wedding vows, you probably said something like "...
If that isn't talking about patience, I don't know what is!
Let's break this down into the component parts. "For better, for worse". Sometimes we don't get better together. Here's an example from our relationship. I have really been wanting to lose some weight. I have a high school reunion coming up this summer and I want to look GOOD! I have been trying to eat better, watch my portions, eat more fruits & veggies - all those things. I've also been working to exercise regularly. I really want to be able to jog (not run - jog), so I've slowly been working up to it. I add 30 more seconds to my jogging intervals each week. I feel like I am getting BETTER with my health and fitness. But Ron isn't on the same page right now. His schedule is so jam packed, I don't blame him. It is not a priority for him right now - he has other priorities that are important to him. When I first got on my bandwagon of health & fitness I nagged Ron a little bit to get on board too. But he's not - and that is OKAY. Of course I want us both to be healthy and live long lives, but I need to be patient with Ron. Just because something is BETTER for you, doesn't mean that it has to be everyone's BETTER.
Now let's flip that coin and look at an example of WORSE in our relationship. We'll stick with health & fitness. My weight has gone up and down quite a bit since my early 20's. About eight years ago I was at my heaviest point ever and I felt it. I was WORSE off than I had ever been. I looked awful and I felt awful. We went on our first big vacation together during this time to Costa Rica. We went on an adventure that had us hiking up a mountain (okay a hill) and then rappelling down a waterfall. I thought I was going to die walking up that mountain (hill). I was so out of breath and sweating my butt off, but Ron stayed by my side the whole time. He didn't get frustrated or lose patience with me. And he was like that through this whole period of my life.
"For richer, for poorer" What does this look like in a relationship and how do we exercise patience through it. You might think, well why would I need to be patient if we're getting richer? Sounds fantastic to me!! Well what if your spouse gets an awesome promotion (richer), but now they have to spend more hours at work? You will need to show them support and patience - you might have to take on more of the housework or find things to keep yourself occupied while they're at work. Don't get on their case or make them feel bad about the extra time away from you - celebrate this achievement with them and figure out how to work with it. So what if things go the opposite and your in the "poorer" situation? Let's say your spouse loses their job and now your finances are a disaster. Be patient with your spouse and their circumstances. Support them in their efforts to find a new job, or maybe go back to school - be encouraging. Work together to rearrange your finances so you can stay afloat. It WILL be hard, but getting through those hard times together will only make you stronger.
"In sickness and in health". Ever heard of the MAN FLU? If you're not familiar, check out this video. Well Ron get's the Man Flu at least once a year. Is he sick? Yes, but he's not that sick right!? Well that doesn't matter, I need to be patient and show him I care and that I will take care of him. When I get sick, I would expect the same from him (even though I'll still do the laundry, cook dinner, go to work, etc.) Okay, enough ragging on the guys. Seriously, we're all going to get sick at some point - hopefully we don't have to deal with a serious illness (but chances are we will). We should learn to practice our patience, compassion and love towards our spouse when they have a little cold so that when something serious happens, we're already good at it.
LOVE IS KIND
Love is kind: I think we've all heard that there is a difference between kind and nice (isn't there a commercial for KIND bars?). Nice is like being polite, it doesn't really come from anywhere inside of you. Being polite isn't that hard - we're taught from our early childhood to say "please" and "thank you" - that's nice. Kindness is about doing things out of the goodness of your heart, with real feeling behind it. I heard somewhere once that kindness comes about from someone who has confidence, is comfortable with themselves and has genuine compassion. Kindness is driven more by your heart and your nature. To think about it, you can be nice without being kind (you can smile and say hello to someone, but behind their back you're calling them an idiot). Kindness is smiling at someone, saying hello, asking how they're doing and really caring about how they're doing. Kindness is going out of your way to help someone out, and not holding a grudge about it. Kindness is thinking of someone else and putting yourself in their shoes to understand their point of view. Kindness within marriage isn't always easy. We can get so busy with our schedules, or just in a rut and we don't think about how we could go out of our way to do something kind for our spouse. What if you brought your wife flowers, for no reason at all, other than you were thinking about her and thought that she'd like them? What if you took time out of your day to help your spouse with a project they're working on, that you have no interest in, but you know its important to them? Kindness doesn't have to be huge gestures, it can show up in the smallest ways. If we're only being nice to each other, we've lost an emotional connection and an intimacy that marriage needs to survive.
We've all heard the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". This, in essence, is practicing kindness. It seems so simple, but it's not always easy.
Something that happens quite often in our relationship is that I will ask Ron to stop at the grocery store on his way home and pick up something (milk, a prescription, tampons even). Even though he has just had a long day at work and wants nothing more than to come home and chill out, he will ALWAYS stop at the store for me. Sometimes it is because he is being nice, but when he get's home he'll give me a hard time about it. But most of the time he is being kind and he takes care of it because he wants to take care of me.
How can we further illustrate this difference? Let's say your spouse is an alcoholic, but they've been trying really hard to quit drinking, and they ask you to go out and buy them a 6-pack. The NICE thing to do would be to head on out to the 7-Eleven and bring them back some Bud Light. The KIND thing to do would be to tell them "no". Kindness also means that you have that person's best interest at heart. You don't enable bad behavior or poor decisions because you care about that person and want the best for them.
What does patience or kindness look like in your relationship? Share your story in the comment section below. We'd love to hear from you!