"What's love got to do with it? As I've prepared this post, this song has been playing nonstop in my head. And now it's stuck in yours, you're welcome. A little 80's love for you. But I digress."Love has everything to do with everything!
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
We need love. Love produces compassion, friendship, creativity. If we talk without love, we're just flapping our lips...no one is listening to you. If we have 3 PHD's and are uncontested in our field (I think of Dr. Temperance Brennan here) but don't have love we are worth nothing. If we give away more money than Bill Gates and die for the sake of mankind but don't have love than why did we do it? All of these are good things, but pointless without love.
Have you ever looked for love? I have and it is a bumpy and painful journey. Can all my fellow romantics give me a big AMEN? I've looked high and low, chased it around and around, and still love has seemed to elude me. It is always so easy in the movies right, wrapped up within 90 minutes. A little challenging, but predictably so, and love wins in the end every time. Has anyone seen this pan out in real life? If you say yes, let's talk about your obvious coffee-induced hallucinations.
Recently, God gave me the answer I had been begging for. Plopped it right in front of me while the angels sang a high C note "AAAAAAAAAAAAAH" in the background. (does anyone else play this note in your head like an 'aha!'? how about sing it aloud? just me then...ok carry on)
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23).
How many times have we heard this as kids in church? I have a kid's song that bounces through my head, reciting every word of this verse. But you know what didn't stick from those Sunday School lessons?
All the attributes listed are fruit of the Spirit.
This fruit definitely did NOT grow on my tree. I grow Anxiety Apples and Shame Strawberries and, the most common, Prideful Papayas. Never once, no matter HOW HARD I TRY, have I ever been able to produce love, joy, or peace out of my own workings. Ever tried to love something or someone you absolutely do not like, by yourself? Sans Jesus? I wish you well on your journey, because I am off that crazy train. It's just not possible.
As my husband said recently, "I wanted to be a good man, a good husband, a 'godly man', and so I tried to do the things that a 'godly man' would do. But I never realized that I was trying to change from the outside what was broken on the inside. I was trying to take the good fruit of God and staple it to my dead tree. But despite my struggling, God released me from the torture of trying to be good and gave me a heart that desires to let him do his work in me, and to accept the things that He alone can give."
I want love and demand it like a 2 year old temper tantrum but not so great at dishing it out. When you're single, it's easier to get away with that. Then you get married and all of a sudden you HAVE to love someone else. More than yourself. I'm great at loving me, fantastic really. Loving my husband is too hard. I tried conjuring up some magic love potion...I would have been more successful trying to grow a mustache.
God is teaching me that love is something I can't produce. He gently tells me
"Lean into me and I will give you what you need. Let me turn your unloving heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Surrender and allow the Spirit to convict, lead you to repentance, and redeem your relationships."
Sometimes God repeats it with stronger wording when I'm being a real pill.
When my love tank runs on empty, it means I haven't been leaning into the Spirit at all. It's a big red flag, a loud fire alarm to signal "Hey! You're isolated from the Source! Mayday!" When surrendering and trusting God are a daily/constant part of my life, my love tank never runs out. Rather than sputtering around on empty, wreaking havoc in my relationships, I should stop and look to the One who created love.
When I don't feel loved, Christ reminds me that He first loved me.
When it's hard to love someone else or I simply don't want to, Christ reminds me that He loves me despite my ickiness.
When I don't know how to love, Christ reminds me that He is the Rabbi, my Teacher.
So, this is where I want to live, right here, in the revelation that God redeems with His love what I break with my lack of love and gives me a new heart to love those around me.
Sarah is married to Curtis and is a brand new mom to Elwin Ransom, who is currently 3 months old and lovingly referred to as "giant baby". Sarah nannies during the week and bartends on the weekends while Curtis works in IT and leads worship occasionally at Mars Hill where they are members. Blah blah blah. Ok, thats the boring part. The really real part is this: Curtis and I are two broken people who got married 2 years ago and tend to make a mess of things and each other. For some reason God has blessed us with great community to challenge our sin, a beautiful baby to draw us closer to one another, and continual, bountiful grace when we sin against Him and each other. I write about those simple truths that make you say "Duh" but for some reason I'm always forgetting. So if you want to follow me (I'm warning you, sometimes I am a hot mess) I'm ontwitter: @shelaughsprov31