Love is patient.
Love is kind.
What would you add? Sometimes I need to add biting my tongue or saying hard things. Here is Paul’s list from 1 Corinthians:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV).
In this season of love, I’m finding that I often act in ways that run the opposite of love. Being harsh, demanding, or always right are just of few of my struggles. Love is not easy and isn’t always my natural response. I have really had to work on doing something for someone without expecting something in return. The attitude of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” is so pervasive in media that I have to continually tell myself those thoughts are wrong.
This time of the year brings a bigger love challenge for me. Obligation. Am I obligated to give a gift to everyone who gives me one? Am I obligated to attend every event that I’m invited to? Am I obligated to reciprocate? The answer ingrained in me is yes. However, that is not love. I get this in concept, but living it hard. It is hard for me to not feel guilty for simply receiving and not giving in return. Obligation gets in the way of love. It is dishonoring to the giver, and dishonoring to God, who loves to bless His children. It robs the giver of the joy in giving and robs me of feeling loved and cared for. As soon as obligation enters the scene, I no longer feel loved. Does that make sense? As important as it is for us to share love with others, it is critical for us to allow ourselves to feel love. If I don’t allow myself to feel love from family and friends, how am I ever going to feel love from God-a God who has done everything for us out of love?
So, how do I stay in a place of love? The place where I give out of joy and receive out of blessing. First, I have to trust that love is that big, that profound, that worth standing in even when it’s uncomfortable. Then I tell myself let love win. Every time I act in love, even when it’s uncomfortable, I get a glimpse of how big God’s love is for us and how big the birth we are celebrating is. That begins removing the “Grinch” out of my heart and makes room for His love, a love that overflows.
Join me in practicing love is… in difficult places this season and see what God does.
What are your difficult places to love? Share your thoughts and suggestions so we can grow together.