Do we actually believe love is kind?
Originally published on 10-27-13
We have all heard it, Love is patient, love is kind. Who was is that said this? Donald Trump? Oprah? Oh right, God said it.
The rest goes like this.
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. Corinthians 13: 4-7
We see, love is patient, love is kind everywhere. We see it plastered on posters, on knick knacks, even on key chains. I have read this passage at a good friend’s wedding and I even heard it read yesterday at a wedding. We see it, we hear it, but do we believe it? And if we do believe it, do we think we’re doing a good job of practicing it?
If I were to ask you, Are you patient and kind with all the people you love, what would your answer be? Could you answer a resounding, yes? Or would you have to answer, sometimes?
We often throw the word, love, around. We use it in our email signatures, say it flippantly to people we are doing business deals with. Oh thanks, love ya! And we even use it when we’re describing our favorite meal. I love pepperoni pizza! We use the same word to communicate a powerful emotion with our partners that we do about chips and queso. It’s no wonder the definition of the word love gets lost in our day to day speak.
I have been part of three weddings in the last 5 months, including my own and the winds of love have been whipping all around.
“I love you, Mom.” “I love you, honey.” “Dad, I love you.” “Honey, I love you.” “I love you too, sweetheart.” “I really love you!” It’s been a love fest, right?
I have heard many definitions of love and this one has stuck with me the longest.
“Love is committing to a set of behaviors that positively impacts the other person.” It is the umbrella version of Corinthians. If we are going to love someone, we must keep their well-being at the forefront.
Remember, “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.”
“Keeps no record of wrongs?! But what about that time when….” Nope, we’re not allowed to keep track of that time either.
If we only paid attention to what this Bible verse says love should be, then these would be more the adequate guideposts for us. “Love is patient, love is kind. It rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
So by definition, love, is it’s full glory, is a tall order.
All around the world right now things are being done in the name of love. Some of these things are great, (Maybe Jennifer Aniston really is painting her future baby’s nursery blue and yellow), and some of the things are not so great.
Examples of love go awry are:
“I love you and so you should do what I tell you to.” They may think they know what’s best for you, but if you’re reading Anna, you’re probably old enough to make your own good decisions. Often times when people say “If you loved me you’d do what I tell you to,” they are sandwiching in their love with control. Power and control and strong preferences do not equal love. They equal, dictatorship.
“I’m only so hard on you because I love you.” No. Boundaries, accountability, respect, compassion are all part of love. Yelling and berating are not part of the mix. You’re Mom getting angry with you, blaming you and making a scene because your family reunion isn’t going just as she planned it not a sign of love, it’s a sign of misplaced priorities.
“You should know I love you, you’re my family.” Sometimes we think because we’re related by blood to someone that it entitles us to be harsher on them or have a shorter fuse. It’s like we think, “Eh, they have to be here so I don’t need to devote any extra energy or kindness to the cause.” This is a thought that will eventually erode the relationship. Just because we’re related to someone doesn’t give us a pass to be a jerk at Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, loving and being loved fully within a family unit transforms lives.
Or something I am currently experiencing.
“I love you, Catia. I’m pissed you didn’t invite me to your wedding.” (We had a tiny wedding by anyone’s standards.) “Huh? Last time I checked a wedding was about the bride and the groom.” I had a really time reconciling, the word love with a reaction that included judgment and a grudge. It didn’t seem like a very kind response to two people who just started on a lifetime journey together.
The definition that Merriam-Webster provides is not enough. Love is more than a feeling of strong and constant affection for a person. We should hold those in our inner circle to a high standard of love and they us. If the guideposts for our thoughts and actions are kindness, patience and trust, then we will inch closer to the fullest version of love.