Let’s face it, there are people in our lives right now that are difficult for us to love. “Why can’t I feel more loving?” If you are settling back home for the summer or with a new roommate you might be feeling this tension right now. For students (and for the parents!) there are challenges to coming home after being away. Maybe the challenge is with a co-worker, a wayward child or the next door neighbor. I see my deficient love and wish I could feel more loving, act more loving and just plain be more loving. At some moments this feels almost impossible and I don’t like it. I think I would have gotten this lesson down by now, but once again I find my reservoir of love is not that full or overflowing. Do you know what I mean?
It is always easiest for me to love those who love me first, who cooperate or who are like me. It is not until there is conflict, someone is not doing what I want, or feels difficult to be around that I find myself deficient in this area. Why can’t I love my husband, friends, or even, strangers better? Where is the love? Who, right now, are you having a difficult time loving? With whom and where is God wanting to increase your love?
Pick a bloom
There are so many things I would like to grow in– good things I want produced in my life. There are many qualities and characteristics I would like to have or be stronger in. If I had to pick just one thing this summer though, it would be love. I would pick love and ask for it to grow and bloom in my life over the summer.
Take this test and see if you need to grow in love this summer also (There are no guarantees to the accuracy of this test!). See if you can relate to any of the statements below. Is there someone in you life in which…
- It seems easier to be annoyed than to try and understand them.
- I find myself retreating or withdrawing when they are around. Or I would rather avoid them altogether
- I keep things shallow or give short one-word answers– keeping them at a distance.
- I think about how I can change them. I think, “If they would change, then I would feel better.”
- My words can have an edge or hint of sarcasm to them.
- I don’t have the best thoughts towards them.
Recently, I was hurt by someone. Now this isn’t the first time (and probably, not the last) to be in this type of situation. This person is close to me, and I will be seeing them again, over and over. At times, I get tired of being in this familiar situation; and I would really like to, once and for all, escape from it. Other times, in my mind, I have a conversation on how I would “fix” things. Do you do this too? I would tell them this or that. If they would change in “this way” things would be so much better. Then there is the desire to just avoid them. It seems like if I avoid them, then maybe they will get the hint and begin to change their ways. It is embarrassing to see what I concoct in my mind!
What is your tendency right now, with the person who is difficult to love? Do you avoid? Are you angry or bitter? Do you think or talk poorly about them? Do feel like if you fix them then things will be better finally? Are you hoping that you will just soon feel loving?
Summer lovin’, more than a feeling
When I was a kid the movie, “Grease,” came out. In the movie there is a song sang by Danny and Sandy about falling in love over the summer. It sings something like this:
“Summer loving had me a blast.
Summer loving happened so fast.
I met a girl crazy for me.
Met a boy cute as can be.”
Often I treat love like this, that it will just happen. I will just feel it. Sometimes this happens, but not always. I want a feeling of “niceness” to overcome me. Maybe you just want to feel like being around your family or talking with them. Or maybe are you hoping you will feel more loving when your roommate moves out or get a new job.
My fair love
While reading through 1Corinthians, I hit the “love passage.” You probably know the one,”Love is patient, love is kind…” As I read it, I was of course struck by my need to “grow in love.” I so desperately want to be more loving. I stopped and reflected on it. “Lord, let this be personal.” And that was that; close the bible and on to other things. A few phrases from it though, ended up striking me:
If I… do not have love, it profits nothing… love never fails … but the greatest of these is love. (You can read more in 1Corinthians 13)
I read this the morning before the hurtful situation. I want to just feel loving. I also want love to just given to me. I want love to always be natural. After being struck by those verses, I found myself in several situations in which I really did not feel like being loving. My love is fair (not great) and I do need to pick love.
I thought about those phrases again. I thought about this: “If I do not have love, there is no profit. There is no gain. All other gifts fade away, but love abides.” Love is lasting. Love is an investment made, that lasts. One of the most profitable investments I can make is to love. Yet, I feel more comfortable retreating, holding back, stewing, or being angry. But love is not just an investment, it is something to be spent. The profit comes as we spend it on people that we feel undeserving of our love– profit by spending. It is not something I just “know” about, feel, or can explain. The best way to grow in love, is to spend love. But before we talk about this, what is love? What am I actually growing in?
One day, I was reading about the fruit of the spirit (in Galatians 5) and it read similar to the “love passage.” As a believer in Christ, we are filled with His Spirit. As we are, certain fruit is produced in us over time, growing in us over time– making us more like Christ.
For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… Galatian 5:22
I discovered from something else I was reading that some think this list should be written with a colon after “love.” It would then read like this:
“For the fruit of the Spirit is love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
In other words,
- abiding love is produced through the Spirit
- love is found in those qualities
What is love? It is found in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That is what love looks like.
If we are growing in these qualities, then I am growing in love. As I show kindness with a difficult person, I am showing them love. As I display patience, I am loving them. As I share myself and my goods with someone, I am loving them. This kind of thing grows like fruit on a tree or a garden full of blooms. As the branches or stems stay connected, fruit or blossoms grow. As I am connected to Christ, as I walk with Christ, this kind of fruit is going to grow in me– the fruit of love. It is grabbing on to His hand and walking with Him. As we hold on to Him, He will be producing the fruit of love.
Probably like you, I do want to grow in love this summer. But growing in love is so much more than just knowing about it,being nice or waiting on a feeling. First, It helps to remember what love really is. To have this love, it needs to be produced in us. Second, love is an investment we make. It must be spent. Yes, love is what I want to pick.Next time- see what love produces in us and others.