Today is our nine year anniversary, which just seems so crazy! Nine years - It’s a weird place to be because I still feel like we’re newbies at this whole marriage thing (and we are in the grand scheme of things) but I also feel like we’ve covered a lot of ground and faced a lot of giants, so that’s gotta be worth something, right? Anyway, we’ve reached nine years, and while I don’t feel like that qualifies me to be giving marital advice, I do think I’ve gained a little wisdom about love...all kinds of love and not just the romantic kind. In fact, aside from this paragraph you are reading, I’ve had the following post written in my journal for several months, but I never felt the time was right to share it publicly until now. In light of our anniversary and the recent events in our nation, I think it’s an appropriate time to talk about what the world needs most...love sweet, love! It’s not a traditional anniversary post, but I hope you enjoy!
This past weekend we attended a beautiful wedding for Eric’s cousin, and along the center aisle was a beautiful display of pallet art with the familiar verses from I Corinthians 13, “The Love Chapter.”
I may be the only person on the planet, but I don’t get all gushy when I read this passage of scripture. I’m fairly certain it’s because I fail daily at this list:
Love is patient.
Love is kind
It does not envy
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It is not rude.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
Love keeps no records of wrong.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.
I’m gonna keep it real here and go ahead and admit that before I leave the house, I’ve already failed at most of these for the day. I’m not patient when my people are moving slower than a herd of elephants in peanut butter. I am not kind when the whining starts over something like teeth brushing or who gets the cherry Pop-Tart. While I’m straightening my frizzy hair, I may or may not envy the ladies with long, beautiful locks, and I sometimes boast at my mad parenting skills on the rare occasion that we make it out of the house on time. I don’t even want to talk about the whole being rude thing. Let’s just say that we choose not to conversate in the mornings at the Watson house.
Easily angered? Who could possibly lose their temper in the middle of searching for shoes, comparing schedules to see who will pick up the kids, drop them off, and feed everyone all within a 45-minute time span while simultaneously trying to find something in the fridge for lunch that doesn’t have mold on it? And even though I can’t tell you where my keys are at the moment (true story) I can rattle off at least a few dozen less than glamorous moments from a decade ago, so the whole “no record of wrongs” things isn’t my strong suit either.
So, yeah – the “Love Chapter,” doesn’t leave me feeling lovey-dovey. It leaves me feeling more like a big, fat failure!
But as I sat there under the beautiful, sunny sky watching a precious couple begin their life together, something started to shift in my heart slightly as I looked down the aisle and saw the artwork with one simply phrase painted on it…”Love always perseveres.”
All of the “does not” statements of love faded as I stared at the word “always,” The verse says, “Love always hopes, always protects, and always persevere.”
That’s an interesting way to end the “Love Chapter.” Love perseveres. Why couldn’t it have ended with something like, “And they lived happily ever after...The end?”
The word perseverance doesn’t do much for me, especially in the context of love. Yet, the author put it in there. At the very end. As a final reminder.
As I sat there staring at that simple piece of pallet art, the Lord started stirring a truth in my heart…love always perseveres.
I should have been focused on the couple standing before me or the sight of my sweet daughter in her flower-girl dress, but instead I started mentally recalling every passage of scripture I could think of that had to do with perseverance.
I can’t help but think that the Lord knew what love would cost us. After all, love cost him his son on a cross. Let that sink in. He loved us so much that he was willing to suffer the sacrifice of his only son so that we could spend eternity with him.
He knew what love would cost on this side of glory, so maybe that’s why he chose to end the Love Chapter with a final reminder that love perseveres.
Love isn’t a feeling or even an emotion. Love is an action. It’s a choice - it’s a choice to lay down one’s own life to serve another. To love is to persevere through the pain because of the promise waiting on the other side.
It’s the child who perseveres through the peer pressure to stand up for the friend being bullied.
It’s the teenager who perseveres through the ridicule of his or her counter-cultural choices because of their relationship with Christ.
It’s the college student who perseveres through the mockery of choosing a mission trip to India over a week in Panama City.
It’s the young adult who perseveres through the financial strain to donate to those in need.
It’s the mother who perseveres through the exhaustion and post-partum depression to give comfort to the tiny newborn.
It’s the couple who persevere through the broken trust and shattered dreams because giving up is never an option.
It’s the family who perseveres through the devastating diagnosis, endless medical treatments, and broken hearts because no matter what the outcome, their legacy will live on for generations to come.
It’s the mother, father, sister, friend, or widow who face another lonely day staring at the empty chair and persevere through the pain because they grieve with that hope that one day they will see their loved one’s face again.
Love always trusts, always hopes, always protects, and always perseveres.
My favorite bible verse has become Romans 3:3-5 “ Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame.”
I may fail miserably at the long list of “love does not” statements in I Corinthians 13, but I pray that I never grow weary of persevering through the hard seasons of life because when we persevere, we are in essence loving - and what’s what our world so desperately needs right now.