Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about The Sisterhood’s motto “No Matter What … Love.” So many pictures come to mind when you think about that pesky word Love. Often, it’s that desperate, perfect connection with another human being that we see in movies like The Notebook. Could there be a more perfect soul mate than Ryan Gosling? I mean, I really, truly believe my husband is the perfect soul mate for me, but still. It’s Ryan Gosling. I’m just sayin’.
My relationship with my husband doesn’t always look like what you might see in the movies, but when you look closely, you’ll see that it is so much better. It’s real and messy and beautiful and OURS. At our wedding, one of our readings was from my favorite chapter in the Bible on the meaning of love. Even if you have never stepped foot in a church, chances are you’ve heard this particular passage from the 2 Corinthians. It starts “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” It continues with about ten more short sentences about love, the last of which is “Love never fails.” You’ve probably heard these verses at multiple weddings, maybe even your own. But have you really thought about what they mean, not just in terms of how you love your spouse or significant other, but in terms of how you love everyone, every day?
I can’t even get past the first two phrases when I consider this broadened perspective. Of course I “love” my children, but how can anyone who hears “I’m hungry” 272,683 times a day be patient or kind? My little people torture me with those two dreaded words from the minute they wake up until the second their heads hit their pillows. My son even uttered it one time mid-bite. Really?? You are eating dinner. You are about to put a piece of food in your mouth. Do not tell me that you are hungry!
For everyone’s safety, I have delegated the parenting to the impatient, irritable version of myself, at least until school starts. Thankfully, that’s only a few days away now!
Snarly, Sarcastic, Snappy Melissa also fills in often at work, in my marriage, and when dealing with other people in general. I can’t lie – this alter ego amuses me. Sometimes I just want to let her take over completely! But then, I see the looks in my kids’ eyes when I snap at them. Or I experience the consequence of reacting at work with a biting quip, instead of from a place of patience and tolerance.
Truth be told, I want to love better.
So I’m taking a new look at these verses. Instead of just a beautiful poem to be recited over happy brides and grooms, I am going to try to transform these words into a playbook for all of my relationships. I am meditating on these words in a new way. When my son is still buckled in his car seat even though I’ve asked him to get out of the car five times, instead of yelling, I say to myself “Love is patient, Love is kind.” When I show up for Meet the Teacher at 8:20am, because I thought it was from 7:30-9:30am instead of 7:30-8:30am, and then, as I’m running from room to room, realize I have forgotten the cash that I need to pay for the extra set of pre-packaged school supplies available only to those irresponsible moms who forgot to order them in the Spring, I think of these words to remember to be patient and kind with myself. My mantra becomes “Love is patient, love is kind. Love nevers fails.”
I can’t believe the power in these words. Even though I’ve read them many times, I’m realizing through them on a deeper level what it means to rely on God. When we turn to God and accept Jesus as our savior, it means we never have to worry about failing again. Love never fails, which ultimately means that I never fail. I never fail, because Jesus already succeeded at the only contest that matters. Because He already conquered death and sin, NO MATTER WHAT I do, I cannot fail. Wow. That’s awesome.
Monday morning, as I’m getting the kids ready for the first day of school, I hope I can keep these words in the forefront of my mind. As many of you know, to say I’m not a morning person doesn’t even begin to cover it. There is no doubt Monday is going to be tough! But even if I don’t get the kids a perfectly balanced, healthy breakfast, even if we are running behind, even if nothing goes according to plan, Love is patient, Love is kind. With God’s help, I never fail.
Who knows, maybe next week, after we get past the first few days of earlier mornings, I’ll even move past the first line of the passage below and take on envy and pride!
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
2 Corinthians 13:4-8