I've been thinking a fair amount about love lately, and thought I'd blog some of my thought (while I still have them) I have a lot to learn and so I hope I will have more to add to this in a future post, but I will think about that later. As I was contemplating the end of my 40 year marriage, I thought of the many times we had sung the words of I Cor. 13:
1 ¶Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 ¶Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 ¶Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
I asked Leroy if we might both meditate on these words, and memorize them...but of course, he declined. Not, I suspect, because he rejects the Bible...but because the suggestion came from me... and he did reject me. I memorized it anyway because it is so full of truth and beauty, even though I struggled with verse seven..."Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." ...because I knew I had given up hope...and was very discouraged about bearing and enduring all things.... This chapter of 1 Cor. will always be the best description of what love looks like...but how rare it is to find it in ourselves or in others. "...seeketh not her own...is not easily provoked...thinketh no evil..."
Then I read something which made stop and think (still thinking) I can't find the quote again...so am unable to cite it's author here...but it was to the effect that ...
"It's not love if it knows the reason why."
Does this not fly directly in the face of so much of what is written about love? A notable exception is Elisabeth Barrett Brownings poem, It's not about reasons...but ways...
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."
If love has a reason...are not motives to be questioned? If we love someone...doubtless there will be things about them that we love...but perhaps if our love is dependent on those attributes, then motives come into question, and it's not true love, because if the attributes...say wealth or good looks....are diminished, then the love is also diminished. So was it love or was it selfishness? I have heard it said, "What must I do to make her believe that I love her?" and this was rolling around in my head for a long time. Eventually, it occurred to me that, it should be unneccesary to do anything to prove your love. That it should be more a question of "Who is my love compelling me to be?" You see, if the love is not there, there really is nothing that can be done to prove that it is. You can't give what you don't have. It's not possible. But where love is, there is no proof required, because all our life, and all our actions flow out of that love. It is like faith and works.
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
These are the verses that the "got to do" people will quote, and perhaps they do provide a balance to the verses in 1 Cor. 13 that the "get to do" people stand on. James speaks to those who are all talk and no action. 1 Cor. speaks to the futility of even the most dramatic action without love. But in a way they are saying the same thing...that the deeds flow out of the love, but without the love, our words are sounding brass...just noise..and our righteous deeds are filthy rags.
Here's another quote that resonated with me this week...(perhaps a little off track...but I'm adding it here to remember it)
"It is very difficult to create authentic relationships between people with such disparate power."
This quote is from an article in a Christian publication about short term mission trips, but it resonates with me in terms of all love relationships. Sometimes love will begin between people with disparate power, but either the power will have to be relinquished or the love will be perverted. In order for love to flourish the superior/subordinate relationship will have to be voluntarily suspended and replaced with a respectful consensus. This is why relationships are frowned upon between people working together as superior and subordinate. This is why relationships are frowned upon between people in a position of power and those under their authority. Love does not go single file or back to front... it goes side by side or face to face.
So...This is more of two fragments of posts...but I will leave them so for now.