"What's Love Got To Do With It?"
by Samantha Sivils

Everything!  Love has everything to do with every situation we are ever presented with at any given time.  Whether or not we choose to act with love is our decision, but if we are not treating EVERYONE with whom we come in contact with true agape love (a love given unconditionally and not based on the worthiness of the one being loved) we are not living a life that reflects Christ.

He told us how to love others.  It isn't always easy, but we have a guide.

Love is patient and kind. 

"But I'm tired."  "But you don't know what I've been through."  "But I don't feel like it."  "But they don't deserve it."  We can come up with a million excuses.  We were cut off in traffic.  Someone jumped ahead of us in the check out line.  The cashier is rude.  Our children are running amuck and acting like wild heathens.  Still we can choose to be patient.  Still we can choose to be kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

We've all been there.  Someone has something we want...  and it may not always be an object.  Maybe it's a job, a relationship, or a talent.  We may not come out and admit our envious feelings, but we dwell on it.  We wonder how we can have one.  We allow it to consume us.   Or perhaps we are the one with the object, job, relationship or talent.  While it is tempting to flaunt it, it is not acting in true Christian love.

Love is not rude.  Ouch.  God didn't leave anything out!  He considered it all.  We aren't even allowed to be rude...even when it's justifiable.  We have all been put in situations where someone has caused a feeling to swell inside of us that our best is to respond rudely.  When I married Tommy ten years ago, he was the worst.  I remember one incident where a woman broke into the line we were in.  I was one to blend into the situation and not cause a scene.  Not so with my new husband.  He told her somewhat firmly just what he thought.  Praise God that Tommy is a different man today and would not say a thing and wouldn't let the same situation bother him at all.  These days I would be more likely to respond or react rudely.  Regardless of the circumstances...  the kids have not done their best with their schoolwork or chores, Tommy hasn't reacted the way I expected or wanted him to....  if I am acting in love, I am not allowed to be rude.

Love does not demand its own way.

We all want what we want when we want it.  It is human nature.  But it is not the nature of love.  When we act in love, we prefer to see others get what they want ahead of our own selfish desires.  As a child I learned a song that said "put Jesus first and Others second and put Yourself at the end of the line, then you will have JOY in your life with J-O-Y."  When we put Jesus and others ahead of ourself we are not being self seeking or demanding our own way.  Want JOY?  Try this formula and watch it work in your life.

Love is not irritable.

Again, I could make a huge list of "buts."  At the top of my personal list would probably be "but it's that time of the month."  I'm just being honest here.  Even when hormonal imbalances send me over the top, I am not to be irritable if I am walking in love. 

Love keeps no record of being wronged.

There is a particular person involved in many circles of my life whom I also refer to as the thorn in my flesh.  She just really rubs me wrong.  Our troubles date back many years and as time as passed I have kept a mental checklist of the reasons I don't like her.  I could go into talking about all the ways she has hurt me and my family to make you understand, but that isn't acting in love.  To respond in love would be to wipe the checklist clean.  What about the next time she does something to me?  I have to wipe it clean again. 

Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

I think of a special friend's blog from yesterday.  She had a court date involving a minor traffic accident from a few months back.  Because she was honest in her account of things, the truth prevailed.  Had she taken the easy way out (rejoiced in injustice by setting this woman up), the outcome may not have ended as favorably.  God used K to shine His love into a situation where darkness could have easily prevailed!

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

And now I'm going to get a little personal.  Life is hard.  Marriage is hard.  Parenting is hard.  There are times I wonder what I was thinking marrying a man with four children from a previous marriage and then having four more children to add to the situation.  Each of my children were highly desired and planned and wanted so much.  But I've wondered how wise it was to bring them into the situation they've been born in to. 

Dealing with the baggage of my husband's past has not always been easy.  There have been times I have wanted out.  Because of love though, I'm not allowed to give up.  There have been times when things have seemed awful bleak, but because of love, I'm not allowed to lose faith.  To love my husband is to always be hopeful and to endure through EVERY circumstance we go through together. 

Tommy has been so much better at loving me than I have been at loving him.  When I have been sick from fibromyalgia, suffered through miscarriages, post-partum depression, and PMDD he has always been patient and kind.  He hasn't been easily angered when I have been a basket case.  He has never given up on me, always had faith in me, been hopeful that I'd be bettered, and he has endured through every circumstance he's been through because of me.

Tomorrow is our tenth anniversary.  We had planned to renew our vows for our anniversary this year, but that plan fell through.  So here are my new vows to my husband.

Tommy, from this day forward I promise to always try my best to respond to you with patience and kindness.  I will not be jealous of you or act boastful or proud... even when it means not being able to say I told you so.    I will try diligently not to be rude or irritable even when I'm tired, frazzled, or hormonal.  I promise from this day forward not to keep score.  When I forgive you, I will forget too.  I will rejoice with you in truth.  Regardless of what happens in the future I WILL NOT GIVE UP.  I WILL NOT LOSE MY FAITH IN YOU.  I WILL ALWAYS BE HOPEFUL BECAUSE OF YOU.  AND WHATEVER HAPPENS WE WILL ENDURE THROUGH EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE.  I will seek to love you as you have always love me.

1 Corinthians 13 is so commonly read that sometimes it is read to be more of a suggestion or something that sounds nice than an actual guideline for how to love.  Many years ago I heard that you could take the word "love" out and replace it with your name saying "Samantha is patient.  Samantha is kind."  That never worked for me because I am not those things and I have certainly not been perfect in these areas.  I am writing this because it is what God is showing me in my life that needs to change.  Through Christ I can act in those ways.  It is CHRIST in me, my hope of glory!  In my weaknesses HIS strength is revealed. 

Father, I ask that you change my life with love.  Help me to love as you love.  I especially want to love my husband and family in this way, but not just them, Lord.  I want your love to shine through me to everyone I come in contact with.  Mold and shape me, Lord, until I reflect your SON in all I say and do.  In His precious name, amen.
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