1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (NIV)
“Love is patient,” Paul writes, “love is kind.” (v. 4). But Paul, “Love” just left the toilet seat up for the one hundredth time! “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs,” he says (v. 5). Clearly, Paul has never experienced the feeling that comes over you upon discovering that “Love” has eaten up all the snacks and left the pantry empty, right at the very time you get the urge to munch on something.
1 Corinthians 13 sounds so good in theory. It’s read at so many weddings as a sacred reminder of the commitment that the (usually) naive and unsuspecting couple are making to one another. Paul makes love sound so noble–and it is. It is also painful.
Fulfilling this scripture, continually applying the healing ointment of love over the scabs, bruises, and sometimes even gashes, that arise in a marriage is hard work. It’s not flowery and poetic. Loving someone for real often means doing the hard work of loving them through their faults and allowing them to do the same for you.
One thing that I’ve learned in this married life is that if love is an ointment, then forgiveness is the band-aid. Every married person will offend or hurt their spouse at some point; that’s just the nature of being in a relationship. You’re two different people trying to live one shared life. There are bound to be hurt feelings. Hurt feelings though, if they’re stockpiled and not healed by forgiveness, create blockage.
In talking to my therapist (yup, I have one), I realized that I hadn’t fully forgiven my husband for some of the hurts I’ve experienced over the course of our marriage. What struck me most is that I realized that I was stubbornly and willfully choosing not to forgive. I have been choosing to hold on to my hurt and nurse it because that’s the safe thing to do. There is no risk involved in keeping my husband at arm’s length because of my hurt feelings.
But alas, love is a risk (just ask Jesus). If I let go of my hurt and truly forgive (which is a command from the Lord, by the way), then I fully open my heart back up to my husband again. This full and open heart allows me to give and receive full and open love, but it also essentially places me in a position of vulnerability again. As risky and intimidating as this vulnerability may seem, this is what the God requires of me if I am choosing to stay in this marriage and be the wife the Lord has called me to be.
And when forgiving seems like it’s just too hard, or like I really just don’t want to do it, I need only to remember Jesus. Ah, my buddy Jesus, who loves me through my faults and forgives me repeatedly for my offenses toward him. If he can do it, then so can I.
Jesus is patient, he is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. He never fails. In this life, in our marriages, love (and forgiveness and Jesus) is enough.
Image Credit: Susan Adams