We all love the idea of love. The word triggers pretty thoughts and the word rolls off our tongues pretty easily:
“I love Ryan Gosling, he is so fit!”
“I love strawberries, they’re delicious”
“I love my Mum, she’s the greatest”
“I’m in love with you”
We all need to be told that we’re loved, sometimes we may struggle to say it but ultimately love is a good thing to us. It offers hope, restoration, freedom and encouragement. But like all truly good things love isn’t always easy; in fact sometimes it’s really hard.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
The above scripture sets a pretty high standard of what love is, and I think it’s safe to say we all fall short. For me, it is so hard to forget; ‘it keeps no record of wrongs’. I like to remember people’s mistakes – people that I supposedly love – and use it as ammo when I need to. Yep, that’s what it’s like to be loved by me (at times) and I’m sorry if I have ever done that to you. If I haven’t said it outwardly, it has probably been simmering inwardly and it may have even affected our relationship. Again, I’m sorry, I’m working on it.
What this part of the scripture is really saying is that Forgiving = Forgetting. This baffles and challenges me to my very core because it goes against my grudging nature. So maybe to forget those wrongdoings I needed to forgive them, even the smallest of them. Funny how I never thought they were big enough to forgive, yet I can’t seem to forget them. Because I haven’t forgiven. But how much has Christ forgiven me for my wrongs? He wipes my slate clean every single day. Who am I to hold so much against people that I love?
I may not be able to forget in my head, but if I choose to I can certainly forget in my heart. When we let go of that emotional memory we let go of the anger and sadness too.
Love, which is meant to bring hope and freedom, can bring so much pain because it is loving despite flaws (and worse). I’ve seen it first hand with people close to me, I’ve seen love bring hope to the receiver and pain to the giver. This is either because the receiver keeps on taking without giving back, or because the receiver is what I have judged as undeserving of love. Which I’m realising is pretty harsh now that I’ve written it down. WHO am I to judge who deserves love? None of us do and all of us do. We all need love, regardless of how deserving we are of it. Hopefully it does eventually change the receiver’s heart and they begin to give back, but that’s never why we love in the first place. We love because we were created to.
To be honest, I really struggle with this; with loving imperfection. Because if truth be told, I only expect to be loved when I felt I’ve done enough to deserve it, when I’ve earnt it, when I’ve deemed myself worthy. Yet in reality that’s not how it works, and though I continue to fail, the people in my life still love me. How? Why? Instead of just accepting it and loving others the same way, I wrestle with trying to understand it. That’s the stunning and downright haunting thing about love, especially Christ’s love; we don’t deserve it or always understand it because it’s too damn big for us to comprehend.
My mum always said when I was younger ‘I love you, but not because you’re a good girl’. Fast forward more than a decade and I am still grappling with this concept of love. Except that it isn’t a concept and maybe that’s where my problems lie, in this one tiny truth: Love isn’t meant to be understood.
Love sees your best, forgives your worst, and always believes in you. I may not be able to get my head around it, but I don’t have to. I just need to get my heart around it.
What do you love and hate about love? What do you struggle with the most? Please share in the comments and help me know that I’m not alone!