How to Love Well
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 3 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love the ones you’re with.
Not only are these cool song lyrics, but also definitely a catchy notion. For me, singing those words is far easier than doing the hard thing of loving well. More than Valentine’s cards and candy, I’ve been thinking about how I can love my family better.
Some days I’m pretty good at it, especially on Saturday mornings. It’s easy to encourage my family on days when I feel good, am well-rested, and have the energy to pour into them. It’s not so easy on wintry days when I haven’t slept well, have a million things on my plate, and mountains of mundane to do. Those grays days are when I’m reacting to the overwhelm and responding with a harsh attitude to the people I claim to care about most. Love the ones you’re with? Maybe tomorrow.
Full disclosure - there have been some grumpy folks around our home lately. I’m not naming any names, but let’s just say it’s not the dog. I know I can be a jerk too, so I’m not passing the buck. Truly, I want my default setting to love as Christ loves me. Loving no matter what. Even when I have every reason not to, I want to choose love anyway. I know this requires more of me, requiring me to love big and forgive big.
Perhaps the greatest vision of loving well is found in 2 Corinthians 13:4-7. You probably have heard this scripture at every wedding or anytime a sermon is shared about love. I find when I know a passage well, I don’t truly read it thinking I can’t learn anything new. Yet when I take my time, I always see something fresh. Reading slowly over these words reminds me of the kind of love I long to create for my family. My hope is reading these familiar words inspires you to consider them for your family too.
“Love is patient and kind;” (2 Corinthians 13:4)
I’m grateful this verse starts out with the best reminder of all, patience. Loving unconditionally starts with being patient and kind to myself first, so I can radiate that to my family. I know when people show patience with me, it gives me comfort. I want to be this patient comfort to my loved ones.
“Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
My tendency is to repay bad behavior with more bad behavior. True love requires more. It requires me to be better than that. I am learning to trust that God is a big enough God to bless us all specifically in the way He decides. I don’t have to make someone else feel bad when I feel bad. God redeems all of it.
“It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)
This passage invites me into a deep breath moment. There’s a whole lot of freedom in not having to have my way all the time. I don’t have to be right to feel right. I can let go of the need to have it all figured out, to demand life is fair, or claim the victim if I’ve been wronged. God defends me. I can rest in His promises and His care. I can hold things lightly to allow room for those I love to be who they are. There’s room to breathe for everyone.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (2 Corinthians 13:7) This last line gives me such comfort to know that love will always remain. What I’m angry or fired up about right now will be forgotten in a year. Probably by next week I won’t remember that thing that made me so upset. The people I care about are where my heart comes to rest. Love will endure if I tend to those important relationships. Love always wins.
When in doubt, love. Because love never fails.
Diving deeper into these scriptures reminds me of a vast love that never fails. In His great wisdom, God paints a picture of what loving well looks like. We don’t have to do more research or sit at the feet of another wise academic to tell us how to love. We can read three sentences from scripture and get it. I want to love my family in ways to inspire and encourage their hearts. I know there are a lot of things I get wrong every day. Yet, loving my family well is what truly matters. They are worth the kind of love this scripture invites us to live. They are worth my dedication to get it right.
Loving my family well is a worthy pursuit.