What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 13

I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

 

 

One day my husband and I got in a huge argument and I do believe the “D” word was tossed around. He was sharing his struggles with me about ending the affair and he told me that he loved the other woman. Automatically, I got mad. Very mad. I told him that if he loved her, then he must hate me. I told him that a person cannot love two people like that at the same time. It is impossible. He told me that he knew what love was and he knew that he loved her. I looked at him and said (not at all calmly, but rather more like screaming), “That ain’t love. Love is not deceptive and does not lie. Love rejoices in truth.” I went on to say that love does not keep secrets and manipulate and act so selfishly or callously towards someone else. If he wanted to say he loved her, then what did he label his feelings for me as? I mean, honestly, he was treating me so harshly and kept hurting me, so he must have hated me.

I told him that I was not going to stay in a loveless marriage and he had to decide who he wanted to be with. If he did not love me or want to be with me, then HE could go file for divorce. Yes, I spoke those things, and I meant those things. But talking to my husband at that point was like talking to a brick wall. His mind was so deceived and so twisted that he could not see the truth. I really think he was in as dark and painful a place as I was, only his darkness and pain were totally different from mine. I can see all of this now, but back when I was in the midst of it, things were not nearly as clear.

However, by arguing with my husband about what love is and is not, I had to confront my own love for him. Love is patient, kind, unselfish, truthful, bears all things, believes all things, does not give up, and is persistent and hopeful (1 Corinthians 13:1-7).  I realized that I was trying to force change and truth on my husband, when he was not quite at that point yet. How much was I willing to bear? How long was I willing to fight without giving up? Was I going to believe that somehow out of this horribly ugly and twisted mess that good could come? Was I going to believe for restoration and healing despite how things looked at the present? Was I going to walk by faith and not by sight (Hebrews 10:38), speaking to things that are not as if they are (Romans 4:17)? These are the kinds of thoughts that went through my mind as I wrestled with God over staying in my marriage.

Love does not bail just because things get hard or things are not going as you expected. Love does not simply give up because your love is not some fairy tale. No, actually, it is in the hard and challenging situations in which love is tested and proven. True love can withstand tests and trials and will come out stronger because of those things. We live in a society where people walk away from their marriages and families so easily. The word “love” is thrown around so haphazardly. Frankly, I do not think we really know what love is until the love has been tested and proven. I do not think we can truly realize the nature of love until that love has been tried and gone through some times when the other person is unlovable, when it would have been so easy to just walk away and find someone or something better. When I spoke my marriage vows before God, I took them very seriously. I realized that the part “for better or worse” was now being tested. An adulterous affair is the “worse” part, and I had made a promise to my husband, to God, and to those who witnessed our sacred vows that I would be faithful and true to my husband for as long as we both should live–no matter what.

Love may begin as feelings, and those feelings can be incredible. You are deliriously happy and stay on a high. You honestly don’t have to eat or sleep; you can live on love. But, it is not possible to stay in that state. Reality steps in. We have to work, we have to eat, we have to sleep. We have responsibilities and obligations to fulfill. At some point, love must go beyond those giddy, up in the air feelings. It must become an act of our will by which we commit ourselves to someone and enter into a covenant relationship with that person. It must become a way of life in which the needs of others are more important than our own. It must enter into a place of being able to look beyond how someone is treating us and feeling towards us to choosing to love that person in spite of those things. You see, by very nature, love is unselfish and giving. It keeps going and loving, believing that there is hope and that redemption can come and will come. I guess that is why I kept going, why I kept loving, even though I felt like I was the other woman. Fifteen years earlier I would have just walked away. Wow! Where God has brought me and the things I have learned!

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