But God...He's Not Very Lovable Right Now
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
My emotions swirled in frustration during a particularly difficult season of my marriage. My husband's disillusionment with life, God and our marriage had taken him to a place of rock-bottom depression. It was one of the darkest seasons I'd ever experienced.
"God, show me what you want me to do," I whispered in desperation.
"I want you to love him." I heard deep in my soul.
Immediately I responded, "But God ... he's not very lovable right now."
"I know, Jill. Sometimes you aren't either," God whispered back.
"Okay, Lord. I get that. You love me when I'm not very lovable. Show me how to do the same."
That conversation with God launched a much-needed lesson about what real love looks like in everyday life as a wife and a mom.
Love is a blend of affection, devotion and loyalty. It is part emotion and part commitment. Real love — unconditional love — is hope blended into the reality of life.
Two years after that hard season of marriage, I found myself in a difficult season of parenting. As a mother of five, we'd faced plenty of parenting trials, but none quite as challenging or long-suffering as this season with one of our children. I knew God needed me to respond in love to my child who was anything but lovable in this hard time.
Our imperfect family members need to know that our love is never in doubt. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.
When God is the leader of our lives, He asks us to deny ourselves and follow Him. That means resisting the way we want to react and instead choosing to respond the way God wants us to respond.
There's a battle that happens inside of us between doing things our way and doing things God's way. When we let God win that battle, we take a step of maturity in our faith. We also get to experience a sense of joy when we experience the victory of handling things God's way instead of our way.
I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and began to perform a parenting love audit as it related to my child:
Love is patient. Am I patient with my child who is so different than I am?
Love is kind. Am I kind when it takes my child twice the amount of time to do something than I think it should?
Love does not envy. Do I wish my child were more like someone else's child?
Love does not boast. Am I quick to share what my child does well or hide areas when my child doesn't seem to measure up?
Love is not proud. Am I hesitant to share how I'm really doing or how my child is really doing out of a fear of what people will think?
Love does not dishonor others. Do I ever dishonor my child, demanding that he be someone other than the unique person God has made him to be?
Love is not self-seeking. Am I ever selfish in my interactions with my child?
Love is not easily angered. How much energy do I waste being angry at my child?
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Do I have an ongoing list in my head about everything my child has done wrong?
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Do I keep my mind focused on God's truth about my child?
Love protects. Do I protect this unique human being God entrusted to me even when he challenges my authority?
Love trusts. Do I trust that God has a bigger picture in mind for this child's life?
Love hopes. Do I hope and believe the best for this child, or do I dread what tomorrow might bring?
Love perseveres. Do I keep my mind on the future possibilities rather than focusing on the difficulties and challenges I'm dealing with today?
Thank You, God, for loving me with all my faults. And thank You for the imperfect people I live with. I know You use their imperfections to help me mature and mold me to be more like You. I also know You use my imperfections in that process, too. Help me to keep Your Truth embedded in my heart, so I can love without stopping, even when they don't feel so loveable. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14, "Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping." (MSG)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Which family member most needs your unconditional love right now?
How could applying 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter," to your challenge equip you to respond God's way rather than react your way?