My dear Jil, this thing we call love, it’s not feelings you know. Feelings are like thermometer. It can measure heat but it is not heat. The palpitation of the heart you have – that’s not love; it’s just the INDICATOR of your emotions. And thank God for those palpitations. They interpret our feelings for us.
Note however that emotions can be fickle. One minute you’re having palpitations and the next he says something cruel and your emotion changes. And so you move from exhilaration to depression in less than it takes a Lamborghini to accelerate from 0-60mph.
About 57AD a gentleman named Paul penned a very powerful description of the attributes of love. That penmanship remains a classic. I’ll share some of the verses with you and maybe I can contextualize them for you. I’m going to treat them like scholars treat the sayings of Heraclitus; comment on them. I’ll use a modern translation.
“Love cares more for others than for self.”
This means you can’t love someone and be selfish towards that person. It means being considerate, thinking of your partner’s needs above your own needs. It means being sensitive to the needs of your partner. It means being caring, kind. It means not using harsh words in a relationship, words you can’t retract, words you will regret. You can’t love without caring is what Paul is saying. And you demonstrate care and affection. Love is a verb.
“Love is not always… “Me first.”
In a way that’s actually the operative principle behind men yielding the way for women, and vice versa. But what that verse is really talking about is about self-centeredness. Love is not self-centered. Everything can’t be about you in a relationship. Even if you hold all the advantages.
“Love doesn’t force itself on others.”
It means there’s no way someone can claim to love you and rape you. Means love does not impose. It makes room for the feelings of others. Love is civil, not barbaric. Love is a gentleman.
“Love doesn’t fly off the handle.”
You can’t claim to love someone and be emotionally abusive. You don’t bawl on someone you love. Neither can you claim you love someone and physically assault the person. That’s extreme expression of anger. Love doesn’t yell in anger. Love is not temperamental. Love modulates its emotions. If your lover has to work on egg shells around you, afraid of your temperament, that’s not love! A temperamental person can’t maintain a healthy relationship. He’ll induce fear, intimidation and cowardice. Or fights. Your partner should not be afraid of violence. That’s not love. There’s no fear in love.
“Love always looks for the best.”
You’ve got to believe the best of your partner. Believe the best about him. If you love someone you can’t be an accusing spirit, essentially playing Satan’s role. Satan means accuser. You’ve got to give your partner benefit of doubt, believe the best of him, even when he does it wrong. You believe the best of him in such circumstances because you know his heart is right. Anything could have gone wrong. He might have assumed a set of facts. And it may just be an innocent mistake. Love doesn’t assume a partner is guilty and so must prove himself innocent. He’s innocent until guilt is established. No one wants to live under a pointing finger. No one wants to live under a regime of accusation, spoken or unspoken.
“Love puts up with anything.”
Means love has absorbent capacity. If your partner were perfect you won’t be praised for loving him. Love presupposes imperfection. He’s human. He will make mistakes. He will do wrong sometimes. It’s that absorbent capacity of love that eventually makes the man appreciative of you. This is not a license for bad behavior. Love cares, remember! He must be absorbent too. If love puts up with anything it means we all have excesses. A relationship is a perfecting platform not a platform for the perfect. On a humorous note, if love puts up with anything it means it can put up with two hours of make-up! Successful relationships are absorbent. Successful relationships don’t point out faults incessantly.
“Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.”
This should answer those who say they forgive but don’t forget. Love keeps no record of wrongs. If you find it hard forgetting wrongs done to you just ask God to take away the memory. He does! If He has the capacity to bring things to your memory He has the capacity to remove things from your memory. Some people can’t forgive. That’s a miracle: The unforgiving forgiven. If you keep a spreadsheet of your partner’s faults and at every quarrel you do PowerPoint presentation something is wrong. Unforgiveness is a sin.
Now you see how deep love is. You can actually use Paul’s writing to determine if you should marry someone. Do you care enough about this man? Can you put him before you? Can you forgive his mistakes? Do you love him enough to absorb his imperfections and shortcomings? Do you love him enough to believe the best of him in all circumstances, to trust him? The elements of love are care, faith, trust, forgiveness, truthfulness, selflessness, mercifulness…
Do you love this man, or are you just emoting?
© Leke Alder 2014