What is love? (baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more)
In this post, I am going to talk about my favorite passage in the Bible. It is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. For those of you that don’t know, it is all about the way of love. It has been my favorite for a long time because I saw that my grandfather tried to live by its tenets throughout his life with my grandmother. I’ve read this passage over and over and it is my daily goal to treat my loved ones like this. That being said, we all fuck up. Nobody can adhere to the word of God all the time. Hell, nobody can adhere to their OWN word all the time. We make mistakes by nature. Sometimes we repeat them over and over until life kicks us in the balls (or ovaries) and tells us to get our shit together. I digress.
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4 & 5, it reads, “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.”
This is my personal guidebook toward relationships. Though I am imperfect and most definitely have lost sight of this at times, it is a pretty good guide to follow. We should be patient with the ones we love and recognize that they may not be able to be everything that we need all the time. We need to be understanding of their needs, as well, and recognize they may be different than our own.
It seems obvious that we should be kind to those we love. So often, we think we are. But how do you react during an argument? Are you defensive? Do you lash out at your partner’s insecurities? Do you disregard their concerns as if they are irrelevant? There are so many ways that we can be unkind to each other. It could be as simple as calling someone an idiot when they are, in fact, being an idiot. Disregard for a loved one’s feelings, concerns, and self esteem can be painful. These are just the little things that everyone does from time to time. We all get into that cycle because we are uncomfortable with the idea that we aren’t perfect, that we could be at fault for something.
Love does not envy. In the context of love and relationships, this means that we don’t covet something that our loved one has attained and get jealous. If your significant other is more successful than you, or has a more active social life, we shouldn’t want to take that away from them. We should rejoice for them and be happy that they have those things.
Love does not boast. This one is a bit obvious. If you have something your loved one doesn’t, don’t go being a shitbag and rub it in their face. But let’s break that down a little. You’re not better than anyone. We are all imperfect creations that manifest ourselves in the form of a bipedal humanoid who all walk, talk, shit and slurp. So, get down off your soapbox if you think you’re better than someone you claim to love. This post isn’t about you.
Love is not proud. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Don’t get me wrong, we all want a partner that has a strong sense of pride about them, but that isn’t what this means. Have you ever let your pride get in the way during an argument or a conversation? Maybe someone you love was calling you out on a certain behavior so your pride jumps in and you go straight to denial or defensive tactics. It stops the flow of communication. If someone is asking you a question about your behavior, check yourself, examine it and be honest. You’ll be a better person for it.
Love does not dishonor others. Simply put, don’t be rude. Don’t do stuff to embarrass your mom. Don’t cheat on your girlfriend. Don’t walk around with your ass cheeks hanging out or your pants around your knees so that your father is ashamed. There are subtler things, too. Don’t make jokes at a loved one’s expense. Don’t insult them. Don’t lie to your boyfriend. Stay within the boundaries you agree to, and don’t insult them for feeling insecure about it. Pretty simple shit. Goes back to the golden rule that we all learned at a young age. And in case you didn’t, it is this: Treat others like you want to be treated.
Love is not self-seeking. Listen, everyone is selfish. It’s a survival tool. You want to protect yourself because you’ve been hurt in the past, so you are scared to trust your current partner. It can be hard to turn over 100% of your heart to someone. Don’t skip out on date night to go to a hockey game with the boys. Don’t go blow $150 on another new pair of shoes when your kids’ shoes are literally falling apart. Don’t think of your own needs as superior to your partner’s. Recognize that we all have needs and that we all can be selfish and that sometimes, we can all be assholes.
Love is not easily angered. This one, right here. If I could highlight this, point arrows at it, and make it sparkle like King Midas’s shit, I would. Don’t overreact. I’ll tell you like I tell my 8 year-old son. “Think about what you are going to say before you speak. If it isn’t nice, then don’t speak at all.” This doesn’t mean ignore something that hurts you. It doesn’t mean disregard the pain you have been dealt. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t throw it away. Your feelings matter. But don’t lash out. Don’t roll your fucking eyes and say “OH MY GOD” and just tear off into a rant. Stop. Put your lips together. Think. Understand what your partner is saying or asking. Realize that they are likely concerned about something. Don’t take it as an accusation and run with it. Calm down. If you need to hold up your hand, take a breath. Tell them you need to think for a moment, but don’t ignore them either. If they are upset, or something happened that they tell you about or they ask a stupid ass question, realize that there is likely a justification for it. It may not be a good one, and you have every right to be angry, but calm your ass down and handle this like a grown-up.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. This is important. Take a deep breath. What I say next might upset you. That’s ok. It is ok to feel like shit when you’ve been a shitty person. And you know what? We’ve all been there and nobody gives a damn. If they do, then to hell with them. LOVE KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. Now obviously, this doesn’t mean to just let abuse go by and take it. If someone is intentionally hurting you, they don’t love you and they don’t deserve your love. Move the fuck on, and get the hell out of that situation. I can tell you from experience that I KNOW it isn’t easy. That’s not what this verse means. Let me explain.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Take out your pen and write that down. Write it again. Write it down next to that laundry list you keep of things your man did wrong, or things your woman did wrong, or mistakes your kid made, or whoever it is, whatever it was, get rid of it. Cast it out. We are all human. We are all imperfect. WE. ALL. FUCK. UP. Accept it. Own your share of the responsibility. Accept that maybe they don’t feel good about the time they forgot your birthday because they were working until 4 in the morning and you slept until noon. Maybe they don’t feel good about the fact that they put themselves in a compromising situation after defending it over and over to you. You can bet your kid isn’t happy with that D on his report card. And I bet you a dollar that if your dad loves you, and he forgot you were at soccer practice and didn’t come pick you up on time, he feels guilty. Don’t punish them. Don’t bring it up over and over. Stop. Relax. We all screw up. I screw up all the time. Sometimes in spectacular and God-awful ways. You fuck up, too.
In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 6, it says, “Love does not rejoice in wrong-doing, but rejoices in the truth.”
BAM. Dropping love bombs. Pretty basic stuff. My six-year-old has a better grasp on this shit than most adults I know. Love does not rejoice in wrong-doing… Don’t cheat. Don’t lie. Don’t hide things from your significant other. If you betray their trust, then you are scum, and you do not deserve them. Don’t get me wrong. We all are susceptible beings and can sometimes fall subject to animal urges. Sometimes people do stupid shit for stupid reasons, and I will never be the one to justify their decisions for you. Not me. But mistakes happen. And if they feel guilty, if they truly know they did wrong, and they take responsibility and ownership of it and feel like ass for it… That is a good thing. I’m not saying forgive them. Only you can make that decision. Only you have the relevant information to know if they will do it again and again and again and who knows, maybe someday it’s with your sister. But, if they feel justified in being unfaithful, if they feel justified in blowing the paycheck on video games or porn sites or anything frivolous that takes away from your relationship… That’s neglect at best, abuse at worst, and none of those things shows love.
Love rejoices in the truth.
That sentence stands alone. Write it down.
In verse 7, we see, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This right here, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful messages in the Bible. I say this because everyone can and should appreciate it, regardless of your creed or culture or religion. Read it over and over to yourself every day. Understand it. Believe it. Love can survive nearly anything if you both are willing to put in the work. And it is a lot of work. Sometimes it is just months of the two of you slogging through three feet of shit uphill just to get to a dry spot. You’re still covered in shit, but at least you are out of the shit. Sometimes it gets hard to carry on, to move forward with your lives. Sometimes you need time to heal, and you just want someone there to hold your hand. But you have to reach out too. It can’t always be the other person. Love requires teamwork.
The first half of verse 8 says simply this, “Love never ends.” I can tell you that this is fact. 8 and a half years ago, I lost my grandpa to colon cancer. It was a long, slow, and painful road. When he passed, I was grateful that his suffering was at an end. I still love him. I still show my love for him by trying to emulate how he was in his marriage. I have always wanted that playful and devoted relationship. Love never ends. It speaks for itself.
I have been doing a lot of reading lately, and I came across something that, paraphrasing, says something to this effect: Instead of asking What do you want out of life, ask yourself What are you willing to suffer for? We could apply this to career advice or family advice or studies, but we aren’t going to dive into that today. I just hit 2,000 words and I need to reel this in.
Ask yourself what you are willing to suffer for in regards to a relationship. Are you willing to suffer through the bickering, the nagging at each other, the annoyance that comes with cohabiting with another human, the difficulties that emerge when you try to merge two different and independent lives into one seamless couple? Are you willing to suffer through worrying whether or not she will call you back when you know she needs space? Are you willing to suffer through his insecurities and anxieties, and be patient and understanding of each other? I am. I am willing to suffer through many things for love. I won’t suffer abuse or neglect, but when I know the other person loves me and we can devote our lives to each other, whether it is my girlfriend, my best friend, or one of my children, if we are in this together, I will suffer through every turd-filled shit-heap in my path, just to come out the other side holding your hand. With love, all things are possible. But it takes two of you. Swallow your pride, listen, discuss, trust. Don’t be a douche-bag. Remember the golden rule. Own your mistakes. Respect that the other person has reasons (even if they suck) for whatever they said or did. Recognize you aren’t the only one that has needs. Be patient. Forgive.