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Sitting at a wedding recently, the ‘love chapter’ was read.

1 Corinthians 13 is a pretty common passage read at weddings, after all a wedding is all about love, and this passage certainly fits the bill.

There is a portion of the reading that always catches my ear, my thoughts …

“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”
(v. 4-7)

Whenever I hear those words read at a wedding ceremony, my ‘experienced’ married brain of twenty-three plus years, thinks, ‘they have no idea what love is, no idea how difficult it will be to keep loving.’

Now I don’t mean to be so negative at such a special event. It’s just that … well, after twenty-three plus years in the marital trenches I understand that soon the firing will start and both of those individuals who ‘love’ each other will be experiencing what it is to be shell shocked.

Let’s unpack this!

“Love is patient,
Other than the fashionably late bride, has there really been much practice of patience before they say ‘I do’?

love is kind.
Being kind might be more difficult when he is sick, and she is PMS’ing (so I’ve heard).

It does not envy,
What happens when one is experiencing great success at their career, and the other is experiencing a time of stagnation?

it does not boast,
Sometimes this is heard in phrases like, “my mom makes much better turkey stuffing” or “my dad always filled the gas tank for my mom.”

it is not proud.
“my chair,” “my remote,” “my chocolate,” “my money,” “my body” … just put ‘my’ in front of it and you’ve got pride.

It does not dishonor others,
They have not had time to tell their private stories, of the other, to their girlfriends, their guy friends.

it is not self-seeking,
Lets face it, in the beginning, a relationship is truly born out of self-seeking. They meet the needs of each other, and it is in the meeting of needs that their attraction for the other grows. The difficulty is that we often ignore this part of the passage, as soon as it is said. When, in realty, it should be on our lips, and in our minds from sun up ’til bedtime at night. I really believe that if we can drop self-seeking in the early days, we might have a better chance of staying together. How many couples, years (or months) after the marriage say, “but, they don’t meet my needs anymore …”?

it is not easily angered,
On the wedding day, it is easier to not be easily angered … there has been no anniversary to forget, or in laws to insult.

it keeps no record of wrongs.
This is sooooo much easier in the beginning, when there has not yet been enough time to have wronged each other, when there is so little baggage to make you say things like, “but, you always do …”

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
At the beginning of a marriage both individuals are filled with hope for the future (otherwise why would they do it?), they are not anticipating the negative, the nasty.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
These are the optimistic four! Can the couple keep protecting, trusting, hoping … can the couple persevere through all of the stuff of real, honest to goodness living together … ’til death do them part?

I’m not saying a newly married couple knows nothing of love, just that newly married love is often untested, untried. It is only as the years pass that love will really be defined and purified in how they love each other …

and the greatest of these (faith, hope and love) is

love.

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