1 Corinthians 13:4-8a talks about what love looks like in action. It doesn't matter who the person is - parent, friend, sibling, significant other, co-worker, driver on the road, stranger... Love, in this scripture, covers everybody. As I was getting ready for the day or driving or cleaning, I can't remember which, I was in such a desperate place to respond differently in my circumstances, convicted even, that I thought: What if I looked at that scripture as how God loves me? And today I thought, what if I replace love with God? Here is what it would say:
God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud.
God does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs.
God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
God never fails.
As important as it is for my spirit, healing, well-being and what I am to put into practice, it is equally important for me to see how God loves me so that I can love others. God is patient with me, he is kind to me. He doesn't envy, boast or think about his pride when I let him down. Pride is a big one isn't it? I just can't seem to get that out of the way and it is pride that ultimately blocks love. Pride says, "You did x,y, or z. I cannot, will not, absolutely refuse to ignore my woundedness and ask for forgiveness or extend it. End of discussion." God doesn't have that knee jerk reaction. God is not proud. And when I love, there is no room for pride either. *(For clarity, love can be forgiveness outside of reconciliation. I don't mean to confuse love with being a doormat or ignoring boundaries. Sometimes relationships must end if they are toxic. But we can still love those people in other ways. Such as prayer, not getting even etc.).
God does not dishonor me, he shows me respect. He isn't just not about himself either, he is all about me - this doesn't mean he doesn't deserve my worship, obedience or that he doesn't instruct me on how to love him and honor him, but when he gave me Jesus, he drew a clear line: he chose me. God puts himself aside against all the justification he has for turning his back on me and he keeps loving me.
He is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God doesn't bring up my sin repeatedly and throw it in my face so he can watch me squirm. No, he doesn't even keep a record of it. My wrongs were paid in full the moment Jesus said, "It is finished." Wow. God does not delight in anything evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God's love never fails me.
Try as I might, love as strongly as I do, I let people down and people let me down. As good intentioned, honest and bold as my love attempts to be, I fail. I fail hard. God's love never fails. He is always there, he never turns away. Why do I shove him aside so much? Why do I hold him to unrealistic expectations as to what he owes me? Why do I blame him for things that are not his fault? I don't know. But maybe if I start focusing on his perfect love for me even in the moments where all seems lost, I can keep loving like I feel convicted to. But it is only when I look at how God loves me that I am able to stay the course - to be who I claim. Love is the most vulnerable thing we can do, but I see how God is vulnerable every day with me, and how rejected his love is by me whenever I say He is not enough. But he keeps showing up every day. His love never fails because he is love.