It’s amazing how many times this summer I read Paul the Apostles words in 1 Corinthians 13 regarding love. I don’t want Paul to get the wrong idea, but I only seem to read it with a tie on. It is a wedding favourite. It is almost guaranteed that when the passage is read on a sunday morning people automatically think of it in terms of marriage. Ironically in marriage it is a beautiful passage, but in terms of our pedestrian relationships it actually is troubling. Huey Lewis must have been reading this passage when he wrote the power of love. It’s the soundtrack that plays in my mind as I read it.
When you listen to Paul describing the way love desires to manifest, you can’t help but feeling that the list is exhaustive. He rhymes off a whole gamete of gestures that pretty much make love the most amazing thing. It’s obvious why he ends the passage with Love is the greatest.
Unfortunately though when dealing with difficult people in our life we look at this list and think ‘yah right’. But I think this endless list of gestures that embody love are clues to starting movement in our relationships that are at an impasse. Some of the gestures that he lists actually breed each other. when one or two get together they have gesture babies. If you begin to practice one, it desire to lead to others. Love desires to grow. Exercising patience will cause you to consider other things. A kind word might elicit a kind response, or a changed behavior. Being humble actually elevates others, which make them feel great. It is amazing how it creates an avalanche effect.
I also believe that these are clues to learning to love difficult people. If you are having a hard time forgiving, start with kindness. If you are having a hard time being Patient, start with being humble. If you hare having a hard time with trust, start with hope.
Often when we struggle with one gesture, we abandon the whole pursuit with difficult people. But love is not limited to just forgiveness, or patience, or kindness. It includes them but isn’t limited to them. Our entry point to loving others might need to be a side door or a window when the door seems to be slammed shut.
So next time your impatient with someone who is being difficult, humble yourself and ask why it needs to be done your way. The next time your struggling with trusting someone, begin with the hope that one day you will. The next time your struggling with someone you can’t seem to forgive, begin with kindness. Let the gestures turn into postures, let the individual motions combine into a beautiful dance. realize that love is not a singular act but the culmination, the breeding, the multiplication of a whole series of small pedestrian gestures. And just for kicks read the Epistles with a tie on.