“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him… Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-11)
Lately, I have been learning a lot about what it looks like to love others. I have been learning but not…exactly…doing. It is all over Scripture, the command to love. But more than nice gestures or kind words, love is a serious change of heart that results in the transformation of your life. I read a huge section on the topic of love in Judah Smith’s book, “How’s Your Soul?” Little did I know, there is a link between loving as God commands us to, and a peaceful spirit. That’s pretty neato…if I can somehow get myself to accept the challenge of loving as Christ loves us.
Judah Smith takes 1 Corinthians 13:7, and brings insights that I, personally, had never heard of and/or seen before. I just wanted to share those with you here because, well, I think they are things everyone should hear. And please, read all the way through for there is a pretty big…uh…update at the end.
“Love BEARS all things, BELIEVES all things, HOPES all things, ENDURES all things.”
He breaks this verse down into four parts, the obviously bolded words. I am simply going to state excerpts from his book for each point!
BEARS all things…
“The Bible says here that love bears all. It covers and protects and keeps confidential everything entrusted to it. Again, we aren’t talking about secrets here… Rather, we are talking about shielding those who confide in us from the kind of public scrutiny and ridicule that will only harm them. We are talking about believing in people so much that we help them bear their failures and cover their weaknesses until they can be healed.”
I truly never thought about it this way. I am to guard and protect those who trust in me and this communicates a righteous love.
“We can be so secure in God’s love and our identity that we don’t have to give people glimpses into other people’s business. We can be a safe place for hurting people, a place where they can find unconditional love and support- both public and private- while they get back on their feet.”
BELIEVES all things…
“But in reality, it’s the people who live their lives defending themselves and lashing out at perceived attack who lose the most… Those people aren’t going to be bothered by your bitterness. But you are. You will spend your life in a holding pattern. Looking back at the situation from every angle, trying to figure out how to get the advantage, how to get your pride back, how to prove your point… You will never get over something until you let it go. The best way to let something go is to immediately and from your heart decide not to pick up the offense in the first place. ‘He didn’t mean it.’ And move on with your life.”
This one is hardest for me. I have a difficult time giving others the benefit of the doubt. “Love BELIEVES all things…” says I must choose to believe the best of others, to believe they didn’t really mean that, to believe they were just having a rough day, or that they are home regretting their behavior now.
“If you do this, your soul will be so free…you will have a skip in your step and a sparkle in your eye because you are not controlled by the offenses of others.”
HOPES all things…
“Real love – authentic God-love – is not always easy. Especially because, as was said earlier, this is how love functions all the time. No exceptions, no disclaimers, no prenups…For love to be love, it can’t work only when people are polished and proper and generally pleasant. Love has to work with people in the rough, with people who are anything but lovable, at least on the surface. Love has to be able to say, ‘I know you’re on a journey, but I love you right where you are. Sooner or later you’re going to make progress, but in the meantime, I love you and am committed to you.’”
Even when people aren’t all you wish them to be, hoping that God will carry them through. Love is not looking at people where they are at right now, and assuming this will be how they are always. Love is hoping through all things, knowing they are on a journey, they are in process, and God will bring to completion the good work He started in them.
ENDURES all things…
“There is room in here for communication, confrontation, and restoration. But even when we confront, we do so from an attitude and an expectation that our love is not going to be withdrawn no matter what happens…And sometimes the let-downs feel intensely personal. In moments like these, God’s love is the only force strong enough to endure all things. Sooner or later, good intentions burn out. Self-discipline fails. Moral obligations and education and good manners fall short. But if we are motivated and saturated with God’s love, there is no limit to what we can endure. There is no breaking point, because no matter what happens, God’s love is bigger.”
I want to love like this. I want to be a person who embodies this kind of love. But I am not right now. I have full confidence that the Lord sees the desire on my heart and will build me into the kind of woman who can love like this. But for the time being, I have not been loving like this. And neither has Jeremy. And we both admitted it to each other; we realized as we started to butt heads more and more frequently, that something was not working. We realized that something had changed in both of our hearts, that Jesus was no longer at the forefront of our minds or sitting in the center of our relationship. We both know we want to reach a point where we are loving as Christ is loving but had to make the hard decision to take a step back. As many of you have noticed, we are in fact no longer engaged.
We want to get our hearts right, so we can better love one another. I prayerfully considered this decision and knew in my heart that I could not continue on a path I saw would only lead us away from where God wanted us to go. We are still together, we are still learning and growing. And God has brought so much peace into our lives through all of this. And yes, it hurts to admit that we may have bit off more than we could chew, but honesty is good for the soul.
I am excited for the opportunity to work with the Lord on my heart. I am excited to come out of this season fully living and loving the way I should be. Judah’s Smiths take on a verse I have read too many times to count, is now my guide as I navigate this new direction in my relationship with Jeremy. I am learning so much about him and learning how to best love him for who he is, and how to best love him in a way that pushes him to be who God created him to be. I want my love for Jeremy to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. And I know leaning on God and looking to Him as an example and a source, I will be able to do just that.
NOTE: I love you Jeremy. Thank you for sticking by my side through all these crazy ups-and-downs! I can’t wait to see what God is going to teach me through this new season of us.