I didn’t let them read 1 Corinthians 13 at my wedding. You know the whole love is patient, love is kind, etc. It seemed too cliché at the time. Everyone reads that one.
Recently I read it for a study I am doing, and I tried to not just run over the familiar words. Love. Agape. The expectations are too great. Who is ALWAYS patient, ALWAYS kind, ALWAYS trusts, ALWAYS hopes, ALWAYS perseveres, NEVER envies or boasts or is proud or rude…..I could go on. There is an obvious Sunday School answer to that question….but it’s not what I am getting at. I love my husband in a way that I know he is home, but I am often proud. I love my son in a way that I don’t think can go away. EVER, but I’m not always patient. I love my friends and family in ways that there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for them, but sometimes I fail them. That is my biggest hang up really. The last, love never fails line. It does. Often. I have learned the hard way, that it is even supposed to. Well, at least the kind with skin on. If it didn’t we wouldn’t turn to the love that meets all the requirements.
The Greek word for fails is ekipipto, which means to be without effect, to be in vain. In other words love is never in vain. This I can handle. I mean, I told my loser high school boyfriend that I loved him. And I meant it, as much as I could at 18. Love is like advanced Calculus. It takes practice. It builds. Not too many people can do it properly. We make mistakes. My 2 year old loves me, but if I neglect to give him his snack or don’t let him watch Cars ( again) he will turn on me fast. When I was in grade school I had a new best friend every few weeks. In junior high I had a new crush that I was “so in love with” even more often than that. In college it was friendships I tried to balance. I loved them and I knew what that was supposed to mean, but we started to spread out across the state. I started forgetting birthdays, writing fewer emails and missing events that I should be at. I was failing. Others were failing me. They weren’t there when I needed them. I broke up with boys, friendships faded. If we failed --- did this mean I didn’t love them. Or vice versa. I don’t think the tense ( past or present) of the verb matters so much as that none of it was in vain. That it had purpose. That we had meant it.