“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
It never fails! No matter how many times I kindly ask Sam to pick up his dirty socks and put them in the hamper, or not to leave junk mail and boxes piled up around his chair in the living room, or to not pee on the floor in front of the toilet he still does these things. I don’t know if it’s laziness or stubbornness or just plain near-sightedness; but every Monday morning I have to dig under his side of the bed to make sure I’ve got all the dirty socks in the hamper, and check under his chair for stray catalogs and envelopes that need to go to the bin, and I have to take the Pine-Sol to the floor in front of the toilet to get all the pee up so it doesn’t ruin the hardwood. And nearly every week I can do these tasks with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
You read it right. Because of the love I have in my heart (and head) for him I can put a smile on my face and go about my chores. I’m not going to say it never annoys me to have to continually scrub up the floors around the toilet, but I choose not to hold a grudge or get angry with him or constantly nag at him because he won’t turn the light on or step a little bit closer or just sit down to do his business.
I’ll be the first one to admit, I haven’t always been this easy going. It has been a long and difficult road for us both. When we were first married I quickly discovered that Sam and I have very different ideas of what a house should look like. In those days, I would have said that for the most part he tended to lean toward slobbishness, and he would probably have said that for the most part I tended to be an obsessive neat-freak. And this major difference created a number of stressful and high-volume discussions – well at least on my part it did! Over the years we’ve both toned it down a bit and found a more middle-ground approach to the house. Where I am weak, he tends to be strong, and vice versa.
The Bible tells us that true love does not keep a record of wrongs, meaning it doesn’t keep score. True love does not present itself as a constant nagging reminder of how other’s have failed to meet our expectations.
In our marriage, I would not be showing Sam true love if I was constantly griping about how many times I have to get down on my knees to search under the bed for his socks. Or worse, I just stopped looking for the socks and waited until he ran out of socks completely before I went into an accusatory tirade about how I’ve asked him for the past 12 years to put his dirty socks into the hamper if he wants them washed.
In the same way, true love in a friendship does not continually bring up all the ways in which your feelings have been hurt by the other person. Or how much you’ve done for them, and yet they never seem to be appreciative enough. True love says, “Yeah, you hurt my feelings when you did or acted this way; but I’ve forgiven you, and therefore I’m going to continue to treat you with love and respect, and we’re going to move past this and not bring it up again.”
In the real world this is a tough concept to practice. In many cases we can’t forgive ourselves, so how can we begin to forgive others? It’s that whole ‘self love concept’ which also applies to these Bible verses. As humans we choose to hold onto things. It’s not that we like the hurt that comes from the clinging, but we do relish the leverage it gives us over the other person – even when that leverage is only perceived.
Forgiveness is often a misunderstood action. In our minds, forgiveness is for the offender, when in fact it is for the one who has been offended – that’s us. My forgiveness of Sam’s laziness is not for Sam, but for me – so I don’t become bitter toward him and his actions. Frankly, whether I forgive him or not will not change what he does as he will most likely continue to drop his socks on the floor and kick them under the bed. However, if I do not continually forgive him for doing it I will become angry and bitter toward him and I’ll just stop washing them. A life without forgiveness leads to a vicious cycle of anger and resentment – and it will destroy you.
Love keeps no record of wrongs, so let it go and get over it. Any relationship can be strengthened and restored when we stop wallowing in the misery of the past and start living in the light of today. Now, I’m off to scrub the bathroom floor…