This is a verse that is often used at weddings --- so often that it may seem trite. Yeah, yeah, yeah, love is patient, love is kind.
When I read it, I don't necessarily think of weddings, although it's good to have that kind of love if you're married and everything. For me, it is easy to have that kind of love with my husband. For one thing, if one of us isn't patient or kind, we have the next best thing, forgiveness.
It's also easy for me to have this kind of love with my children. They are mine, after all. I might get pissed off, but I will always love them. If I forget, I think of them as little babies, and of the absolute over-pouring of love I felt when I held them. It's a little messier, now that they talk and all, but I still love them totally, without condition.
As I have traveled on my journey toward God, I've figured something out. One thing. God loves us no matter what, and all that God asks (and this isn't a condition, it's just a Good Thing) is that we love each other as God loves us. Without condition. Without stopping. Through anger and frustration and (my worst problem) annoyance and pig-headedness.
Some people have trouble loving strangers. They don't see pictures of small boys washed ashore in far-off lands and think, damn, that kid could be mine. They don't see soldiers and babies and sad-faced women and think, that is mine. I do. I don't know why, but my heart is full of love and empathy and sympathy for people I don't know.
Some people need to know someone to love them. If they know about the person's troubles or dreams or favorite ice cream, they can find a connection and love them. I can too, I guess. But I have a harder time loving someone who I have to talk to and (heaven forbid) listen to on a regular basis. I have a harder time loving bigots and fear-mongers who I hear, right now. I have a harder time loving a neighbor who calls the pound because my cat walks in her yard. I have a harder time loving someone who likes a different kind of ice cream or religion or baseball team than I do. I have a harder time with someone who can't freaking use a turn signal, for Pete's sake.
But God didn't say, love others who aren't annoying. Love others who love chocolate and cheese (not together) as much as you do. Love your own kind. God said Love everyone. Love your annoying neighbor. Love your bigoted boss. Love your friend who doesn't love cats.
For me, I pray for something more than tolerance. I pray to think of these people as if they were my friends or my family, people who I like and for whom I cut some slack. It doesn't always work. It's a journey, right? For others, I wonder if they can pretend that the dead children, the sad women, the angry soldiers are their friends; people who like strawberry ice cream and dogs and baseball. Maybe if we pretend that the rest of the people in the world are ours, we will love them. And maybe that will give us peace.
Where have you been?
4 years ago