Learning to Love
I have been trying to learn about love this month, partly because February seems like a good time for it, but also because love seems to be the place to start when it comes to figuring out everything from the meaning of life and greatest commandment to the fruit of the spirit and who I’m supposed to be. I have been learning new ways of engaging scripture. Lectio Divinio does not come easy to me, but I try over and over with 1 Corinthians 13 – the chapter where Paul talks about love – and by the end I’ve memorized it, though I can’t say I totally understand it. I don’t like the way that the 2011 NIV changes the word rude, but I’m still not sure what it means. I find it interesting that many descriptions of love – patient, kind, perseverant – echos the fruit of the spirit quite a bit.
I also notice that there is always one place where I mess up the citation of the verse – toward the end when it lists some final factors of love, I want to say that love “always serves, always protects, always hopes, always trusts.” But it’s actually “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” In that “always” section I invariably want to add “service” to the list of things that characterizes love. I even had to check a lot of different versions to make sure I didn’t pick it up from somewhere. Nope, that is just me, trying to insert doing something productive into a description of love.
It makes so much sense to me. Even when I’m trying to be present, my mind is racing with new projects, new productive things I can do. When a friend is sharing her feelings with me, I want to think what I can do or how I can make it better. I even get restless when someone is giving something to me and I can’t give them something back. I know that love is the greatest commandment and the beginning of spirituality, but it is so hard for me to get beyond the idea that love doesn’t “always serve.”
So I can identify a hold up, but trying to address it is even harder. It doesn’t seem in my nature to stop trying to strive, stop trying to serve, stop being Martha and sit at the feet of Jesus more like Mary. Some days I don’t know where to start trying to reform my ideas and trying to renew my mind. So I pray for God to teach me to love as I breathe in and breathe out throughout the day. I try to protect my heart and soul by not jumping into every opportunity which presents itself, so that I can have some ability to be intentional on things more internal. Sometimes I don’t know how to move forward or what is next, because the default of service is so tangible, so easy to imagine. Yet so tempting towards both burnout and a sense of self-importance. I don’t quite have a plan for how to move forward, but I think it will have something to do with trust, hope, and perseverance.