I can’t tell you how many weddings and sermons I’ve sat through where the “Love” chapter is read. The words of 1 Corinthians 13 read so easy; they sound so perfect. “Love is patient, love is kind…” But living it when you’re in the middle of everyday life is a different story.
So what does real love look like in everyday life–practically speaking?
That’s a question I asked several families. For the next two weeks I’ll share some of their real-life stories, including a few of my own. I hope they encourage and inspire you!
“My mom remarried when I was twenty, and I’ve always had a strained relationship with my stepdad. In some ways he’s kind to my mom, but he doesn’t do a lot.
“Last summer my mom was having a heart attack. We called 911 and they rushed her outside into the ambulance. Instead of reassuring my mom and staying by her side, my stepdad said, ‘Well, I’ve got a phone call I’m waiting for,’ and he walked back into the house.
“I was so angry! Didn’t he realize it was possibly the last time he’d see her?!
“Slowly the Holy Spirit has shown me that I can’t control what my stepdad does and says—but I can control my reaction. What he does is his responsibility, but what I do is on me.
“The other day I dropped something off at their house. My mom invited me for a lasagna dinner. We all sat down together and had a good time. As I left, I realized I had to remind myself of the good times we had, not keep track of the bumpy times.
“Learning patience for me hasn’t been a one-time “aha” moment. Instead, God continues to remind me to be patient.”
You must clothe yourselves with…gentleness and patience – Colossians 3:12
“I’ve worked and volunteered with children and families in our church for years. My husband has always been supportive of the crazy creative ideas I get. He often gets up early or stays at the office late to create a craft template for me or thinks through the logistics of an object lesson I want to do.
“One Easter I had the brilliant idea of telling the Passover story (Exodus 15:22-23) with a doorframe I could “paint” with real branches and red tempera paint. My husband went to Home Depot to buy lumber and constructed a six-foot-high doorframe and a stand. Then he hauled the whole thing to church for me and back again when the lesson was done.
My husband shows me that kindness can be shown in practical ways.”
Be kind to each other, tenderhearted – Ephesians 4:32
“My older son, Jake, had been in cross country skiing for a while when his younger brother started cross country too. Jake always had the upper hand until his senior year when his younger brother passed him up near the finish line. He continued to improve, and for the rest of the season Jake never did beat him. Still Jake cheered his younger brother on and complimented him to others, without any sense at all of envy. In Jake I saw someone who knew how to celebrate the gifts of others.”
Be happy with those who are happy – Romans 12:15
“In my second year of college, I volunteered at a ministry that helped women struggling with substance abuse. One day a lady came in who was dirty and smelly. Her hair was tangled and her nails long and dirty. Her feet were filthy, calloused and cracked from walking barefoot. I was shocked. She wasn’t the kind of person I would naturally feel love toward at all.
“Several of us helped her clean up. As we soaked her feet in warm water and cut her long toenails, a wave of love and compassion came over me. I was amazed how God helped me love her. We helped her shower and brushed her hair. She got a good meal and a warm bed to sleep in. But what I got was an understanding of how it was to love someone in need without expecting something back.”
God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love – Romans 5:5
“In all of our years of marriage, my husband has always preferred me over himself. I could go on and on, but I’ll narrow it down to one area—vehicles. He always gives me the coveted garage parking spot, even in the subzero temperatures of Minnesota or the scorching blaze of an Arizona summer sun.
“It took me several years to figure out how to use the gas pump because he would go out late at night or early in the morning to fill up my gas tank for me. And he drives for every road trip because I prefer to not drive, even though he’d prefer to not drive :)”
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves – Romans 12:10
What does 1 Corinthians look like in your family?
How has God challenged you to love like he does or how has someone shown you love the way God does?
Thanks to all the women who shared their testimonies this week and those who will tell their stories next week!
© Carol Garborg, 2021