What Love Isn’t
“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” (I Corinthians 13: 4-8).
I’ve read I Corinthians 13 a hundred times, trying to digest and mirror the model of perfect love. I used this verse in my wedding. I used this verse in my grandmother’s eulogy. I used this verse when I became a mother.
But in striving for an understanding of what love is I’ve never twisted the words to think about what love isn’t.
Thinking about what love isn’t offers me a fresh way to view how I treat the important people in my life. Or how I should be treating my spouse, my kids, my family, and my friends. Thinking about what love isn’t helps me to see where I need to make changes in my relationships and in the way I show others I care about them.
Love isn’t rushed.
Time is a commodity of which I own very little. Most days, giving up my minutes and hours can be a greater sacrifice than writing a check. I’m guilty of giving a gift card in place of a homemade meal when a care calendar rolls around. I’ve been known to pick up a Kroger rotisserie chicken and steak potatoes after one of my friends has a new baby. But, I can’t remember the last time I’ve spent the afternoon preparing a homemade meal to bring to someone. Time shouts love so much louder than money. Time is precious. Time hurts to give. Love takes time.
Love isn’t cruel.
Why would I hurt someone I love? But I do. More often than I’d like. Isn’t love supposed to be about putting the other person first? Taking their needs into account above my own? So why do I let those harsh, destructive words fly from my mouth uncensored? Why do I put selfish desires over the ones I care about the most? Why do I forget that it takes ten good words to replace an ugly one? Love takes patience.
Love isn’t keeping score.
What have you done for me lately? I’m guilty of this in attitude, if not in words. Like a scoreboard, if I do something nice for my husband, somewhere in the back of my mind, I expect him to do something nice back. Real love gives to give. No expectations. Love rips down the scoreboard. Love doesn’t keep a tally.
Love isn’t hopeless.
Some days my emotions jump all over the place. I take what people say, or don’t say, out of perspective and I don’t feel loved. How many times have I been the cause of that feeling of worthlessness in another person? How many times have I brushed off a moment to bring hope and encouragement to those I care about? How many times have I missed the signs of need in those around me and made them feel unloved? Love brings hope.
Loving those around us is hard. Even when the bonds and the feelings run deep in relationships we’ve cultivated. We’re human. With all the shortcomings that brings. Thank goodness we have the model of ultimate love in Jesus to rely on when we can’t be what others need us to be on our own.