1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
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.
By Terry Carter, Editor
To me, love is the eternal feeling we get when another person accepts us in totality for who we are — and who we can be. And no, your loved one doesn’t want to marry the status quo individual, who is still playing beer pong at age 60 as they did in college.
It may have worked at age 21, but you are wiser now. Right?
The challenge is the agape love so popular in church does not translate smoothly into the real world — without Major League discipline. I have heard many parents and spouses using the “I will love you if… ” phrase in an attempt to manipulate their loved one. Conditional love is a cruel weapon centered around withholding love if the person making demands does not get his/her way. And it typically falls from the lips of someone who was hurt themselves or was threatened in a similar way as a youth.
Don’t be that person who says, “I don’t love you” for any reason. It’s an immature and selfish thought prompted by anger. While many people inspire rage, it’s better to let God work on them. Follow a better path, and you can be loved even when you make mistakes as we all do. And, no, I am not condoning cheating idiots who don’t deserve a second chance. Let common sense rule for the cheaters who don’t realize a good relationship when they have it.
Most of you have seen a parent chastising their “loved one” about some bad decision and concluding with a rant like this: I cannot believe you did that. If you love me, you better do what I want — or else! If you don’t, you will be sleeping in the backyard forever — you ungrateful, fat cow!
It’s the battle of the selfish children at that point. The biblical verse above defines a more mature, selfless view of love. And I and very thankful I only dive into this cesspool on very rare occasions when my blood sugar is below 60. For non-diabetics, I pray you never have to resort to such conditional threats.
If your lover truly loved you — and you knew it in your heart, mind and soul — unconditional love would be your only inspiration when speaking. It’s a shame we all thought we were in love at age 12-16 when our brains had not yet conceived what makes love work. Fact is, most teenage guys think they are in love when any girl walks by. And teenage girls are not far behind. But that is not love. It’s a bit less long term.
Just proves that one sign of puberty does not a man nor a woman make. The maturity required to thrive as an adult male or female takes another 8-25 years to decipher. Many of us still have our child-like side intact — just in case a ball game or a temper tantrum breaks out.
On to signs of true love then. Is love truly patient and kind? Yes. Does love really meet all of the descriptions listed above? Yes.
Do men and women meet those strict rules when they fall in love? Seldom. But it can be done if you follow My 6 Simple Rules of True Love:
- Remember, you are always on a first date with your loved one — even if you have been together for 80 years. Show the courtesy, respect, interest in and admiration for that special person you did when you had to dress to impress and be on your best behavior. We know that won’t last all week, but it’s a good impression that counts first. After that, good taste can lead you elsewhere.
- Love is a verb. Show love in all of your actions. Don’t start a food fight, leave garbage on the floor and ignore the dirty dishes. Lighten their load by helping, easing their mind, and doing more than your share. Going the second mile was not a recommendation just for Jesus. It works miracles in marriages too.
- Be more powerful than you realize. I remember hearing a tale of a woman whose husband left her for another woman years before. The dedicated wife mourned in a unique way: She set out a plate, the best silver wear and glasses she had for 2 people each night — and ate dinner alone for more than 1,000 nights. She set out clean, pressed clothes for her long-gone husband, but he did not pick them up. Then one day, he arrived home about dinner time. He saw a shining plate, silver wear and a goblet, and a well-cooked meal, waiting for him next to his spouse. Pleasantly surprised, he entered the home, sat down and began to eat. He stayed because he was anticipated at home and welcomed when he arrived back. He never left again. With a vision of what you want to happen in your life, not even a deserting spouse can stop you from achieving your goal. Athletes visualize great plays, great shots. This woman visualized a happy husband eating dinner with her every night. It can be done.
- Dream big dreams. Make your days together special and memorable. I don’t mean just the first year either. Try dance classes together. Try skydiving. Try golf, tennis, snorkeling, different clothes, food, haircuts. Variety — even with the same person — strengthens relationships. And no one can say they are bored.
- God gave us hope, faith and love to get us through the hard times. So hope for the best in your date, your relationship, your spouse. Have faith that God will grant you a life of adventure, character-building exercises and fun together. And love each other because every mountaintop and every valley is better when you arrive with someone you love. Enjoy each moment knowing that love is the absolute greatest gift you will know in this life. And thank God for that.
- Remember, most of all, your love will only be eternal if you make it so. Make it happen each moment and each day. And in 50 years, both of you will want to do it all over again. If you do it right, I promise you will want more time together. But it is a 2-way street, and both parties must be willing to go the second mile for each other. Fear, stubbornness and hatred cloud the purity of love. Clear a path and run toward each other — do not hide in your own inadequacies.