Do you think loving someone is simple and easy?
The way we use the word love suggests most of us think that way. But that is so far from the truth! Love is hard. Because love requires patience, endurance, a self control over one’s angers, fears, frustrations. It requires compassion, kindness and respect for the ones you love. Love does no harm to the other. It does not envy, or boast, it isn’t proud. It keeps no record of wrongs, as the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 says from the Christian Bible.
So take a look at all of your loving relationships. Maybe look at the one you hold most dear. How is your “loving” that person being expressed?
Are you kind and patient or do you shout at them in frustration for not understanding you the first time around?
Are you having an affair? That is in no way a loving thing to do to anyone, including the one you are having an affair with. You are there because something has slipped or changed in your marriage or committed relationship with your partner and instead of doing the work with your partner in love, you went somewhere else to get your ego soothed.
That isn’t love. That is an empty soul no better than a clanging cymbal or loud bell.
To be in relationship, a loving relationship, we are best off if we start with Love, Godself. That is what our faith and scriptures tell us, God is love. In being in relationship with God, we open ourselves to being loved by God. It is that love that heals, encourages, emboldens, strengthens us to resist those behaviors that will tear ourselves or another down.
Love in faith is not empty. Far from it. Love in its truest form is full and complete. It allows us to own when something is wrong in our relationship with others and empowers us to work with them on setting it right. Without violence or manipulation. Without fear or insecurity taking over.
In God’s love we find the courage to see what is really going on in ourselves, name it and do what we can in kindness and patience, to heal the rift or alter the course that the relationship had taken which wasn’t based on enduring love.
Love is not an emotion, it is a way of being, a truth, a spark of God that is in each of us. We were created by and in that love by the ultimate lover of our souls.
So as we live forward, let’s agree to take the better path, one of loving our neighbor as ourselves, as we are loved by our God, and turn our relationships and the world into a gentler, kinder place that is safe for all to be who they were meant to be, beloved of God.
Rev. Karen Martin Tichenor is pastor of Soldotna United Methodist Church, 158 S. Binkley St., Soldotna, 907-262-4657, Sunday Worship at 10 a.m., Soldotna Food Pantry Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.