Sometimes I’ve found the best way to define something is to contrast it with what that thing is not. I’m guessing that was the Apostle Paul’s decision when he wrote his treatise on love. 1 Corinthians 13, also known as the “Love Chapter,” does quite a bit of contrasting, telling what love is not.
Verse 5 is the sentence I’ll consider today.
Love does not dishonor others. Gossip, cliquish exclusions, distracted listening, sarcasm or even disdainful facial expressions are dishonoring behaviors.
Labeling is another. Several years ago, I decided to avoid attaching “labels” when discussing people.
I desire to reflect grace by not using disparaging adjectives. I also try to avoid focusing on another’s disability, race, politics, religion, or least attractive feature, never using those the first descriptor. Although not perfect, this is one way I’ve committed to honor, rather than “dishonor others.”
Love is not self-seeking. This one makes me say, “Ouch!” In the past few months while pursuing my certification in Spiritual Direction and doing my own intensive ‘soul’ work, I’ve become aware of how important it is that others think highly of me. If not mindful of this tendency, this desire may lead me into “self-seeking” behaviors.
I am grateful for awareness such as this. An aspect of choosing a faith journey that becomes an adventure is there will always be an element of transformation—change that occurs from the inside out—in which the Spirit invites me to participate.
Love is not easily angered. Controlled anger is a worthwhile emotion, but when expressed outwardly or repressed inwardly, anger leads to hurt and harm. I’ve worked hard on this aspect of my character, but there are still times when my anger wins.
Anger is the type of issue people often discuss with a Spiritual Director. As I’ve done so, I’ve made some important discoveries. One, anger is a secondary emotion. The underlying emotions are generally fear or pain. I’m grateful for God’s grace and willingness to help me gain greater understanding. Allowing God’s Spirit access to emotions such as anger always results in freedom.
Finally, Love keeps no record of wrongs. Does this mean we must forget about harmful wrongs we’ve experienced? No, I believe only God has that capability. Instead, we can
learn to set healthy boundaries,
take proactive action steps, and
allow God’s transforming grace to weave dark experiences into a beautiful, rich life tapestry filled with depth and meaning.
In addition, concerning a “record of wrongs,” my husband reminds me not to forget Garth Brook’s hit tune lyrics and make sure I don’t bury the hatchet but keep the handle sticking out!
I close today with a prayer I wrote one recent morning:
When darkness fills my soul;
When shadows from the past dim my senses;
When cares cloud my way,
Remind me to:
Grasp the hand of faith;
Step into the light of love; and
Allow you to lead me onto the best pathway
For your glory and honor.
May your days be blessed with transformational love…
- From NIV ↑