Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
Love never fails! 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
My husband and I went to a Gary Chapman marriage seminar last weekend. That, in and of itself, can be a risky endeavor! My husband and I are human beings, so our marriage will never be perfect. But, overall, I think we have a really good thing going. We communicate well and trust one another and try to resolve conflict in a non-hostile manner. We work together as partners and hold one another accountable. So, the thought of delving deep into our relationship and potentially pulling out something we’d rather leave buried kind of worried me!!
However, the conference ended up being a really good marriage 101 refresher and we took home some information that will be useful in ministry, as well as about 5 books!
The idea that has stuck with me this past week is the risk involved in loving another person, whether it be a spouse, family member, friend, co-worker or maybe, even a stranger. You see love, in the Christian definition, is about so much more than just a feeling.
When we love, I mean really love as outlined by Paul in 1st Corinthians 13 and demonstrated by Christ in his very life, we are putting our entire self out there to be rejected in a myriad of painful ways.
When we allow ourselves to love another person, and to show that love to another person, we are putting them first. We are thinking about what they need, what they desire, how they communicate and respond and feel, how they need us to respond to them. Then, we act on that, despite or in spite of what we would prefer. And we act on that not so the other person will reciprocate and do the same for us. No, we serve the other person because it is how we are called to love and to show God’s love.
What that means is that no matter how negative or confrontational your co-worker, sibling, spouse, child can be, you always strive to treat them with kindness and compassion. You work to hear what they are trying to say, even if they’re saying it in a way that makes you want to grab a frying pan!
Practically speaking, the risk of loving another person involves keeping your mouth shut when you want to speak. It involves not bringing up all of the past hurts you have endured because of their words or rejection. It involves listening, even when you’re tired of hearing the same things over and over and over again.
The risk of loving another person also involves being willing to speak the truth in a loving manner. Please note the loving manner. If you find yourself attempting to hold someone you love accountable by starting with a “You always….” statement, it’s probably best to stop and reconsider. Nothing sets people off like a great big “YOU…”! 🙂
My husband is actually really great at loving accountability. It’s one of the things I love most about him. When I’m reaching for the cookies/ candy bucket/ brownies/ cake icing, etc… he simply asks, “How does that fit in with your health plan?” Or, simply states, “That’s not worth it.” There’s no judgement or condemnation. He’s truly trying to support me and hold me accountable for my healthy living goals. And although I might cringe a little bit, I recognize the truth of his question or statement and understand that he’s really just trying to take care of me. It comes from a place of love, and (let’s be honest) depending on my mood could be a bit of a risk for him to mention!!
Look again at Paul’s “Love is…” statements in 1st Corinthians 13. They are beautiful and wise and selfless and good and so hard to live into every day!! But what a different world we would live in if we could try to live into just a little of them!
So, will you risk rejection with me this week in offering love to those around you? Even if they’re not supportive? Even if they judge? Even if they do not change? Will you love them anyway?
The caveat to all of this, of course, is for those who are in abusive relationships. I very firmly believe that if you are being abused in anyway, shape or form–physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally, you need to leave the relationship immediately. There is a difference between someone being difficult to live with/work with/be in relationship with and someone who is an abuser. If you know of someone who is in an abusive relationship, encourage them to reach out to those professionals within their community to get out of the abusive environment and started down a road of recovery.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:12-17
I am linking up today with other women taking the “Risk Rejection” challenge over at Amy’s Place. I would love for you to come along and share in some other stories of wonderful and inspirational God driven risk-taking!
Blessings and Peace,