So I missed a day of writing yesterday. It was one of those days, one that imploded on itself due to a complete inability on my part to back down after an altercation with our youngest son. Even though I was following through on consequences as a result of his choices, I could have walked away sooner than I did. But I didn’t. Because I was right, he was wrong, and I had to make sure he knew that.
I made it all about me.
‘it is not self-seeking’ (1 Cor 13:5 NIV)
‘isn’t always ‘me first” (1 Cor 13:5 The Message)
‘seeketh not her own’ (1 Cor 13:5 KJV)
How often do we do this in our relationships? With our spouses, kids, family, friends, work colleagues, general acquaintances? I would so like to say “I’m really conscious about recognising and acknowledging the needs of the people around me, and putting them before myself because that’s what really loving people means”, and to much of a degree, that’s true. But the reality is, I fall short of this every day in all of my relationships.
Learning about what real love is in relationships has shown me that loving someone isn’t about what they’ll do for us, who they’ll be for us, how they can make us feel better, but it’s actually the opposite. Loving someone is about finding out who we can be for them, how we can serve them, how we can make them feel better about themselves. How we can help them – even if doing all of the above means putting aside what we want, what we need for a time, for the moment they need us more than we need them.
And if we all loved each other the same way, we’d all be meeting each other’s needs, all the time. But we know that this isn’t what happens in reality. And that’s when it gets hard – when people don’t show us love in the way we do them, or the way we think they should – for whatever reason – we take it personally. Then if we’re not careful, we can let it affect how we keep loving them. We can let our wounds become a barrier to living love for real.
But we don’t have to let that happen. We can choose to keep loving them when we’re hurt. We can choose not to take things personally, and to look deeper into why people do what they do, to see their hurts and wounds and meet them in that place. Even if it means going somewhere that’s painful for us. That’s real love.
As I’ve said before, I’m not talking about letting people take advantage of you, rolling over and letting them deliberately hurt you, manipulate you. That’s not love, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m talking about looking past people’s defensiveness and anger and lack of consideration and asking, why? Why are you behaving like this? Who hurt you? What caused you pain? How can I help you? How can I love you?
That’s love lived for real.
How does this happen for you in your life, your relationships?