Inspired by the comments in my last blog post “If love is the answer, what is love?” I had this bright idea to write a blog post about what I was raised to believe “love is” and I kept hearing that bible verse going through my head… you know the one, “love is patient; love is kind” my kids had to memorize it in grade three I think…….. so I looked it up.
And my brain was flooded by so many abuse memories and SELF abuse memories that I felt breathless and a little sick to my stomach. Originally for this post I was going to write a list of what love is not, but it was nothing like this list at all. This verse is a foundational teaching, not just in Christian circles, but in many circles. This has been recited as poetry. This verse has been a standard guideline in the world and many don’t even realize that it has a biblical foundation. As with many other teachings, I made it MY guideline and used it to beat myself up with. It became the whip of “not good enough; no wonder I am not loved”. I am not angry with the Bible or with God. That was not the source of the deception. I am angry that I was taught this standard that NO ONE of significance in my childhood ever modeled for me and yet somehow I was supposed to grow up and “know this”. I even expected it of myself.
Here is the verse:
“1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud it is not rude it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
I used to love this verse when I was in the fog of compliance and obedience. Did I ever really understand it then? I certainly never thought about it the way that I am thinking about it today. I didn’t apply it to myself in the way that I suspect it was meant to be applied to me. Here is how I “read it” to myself back then; The translations are how I “FELT” about the definition. How it translated to me. How I used it to keep myself down, right where “they” wanted me to be.
Love is patient, love is kind: Translation: I must be patient, I must be kind. I must accept all mistreatment, disrespect and abuse and I must treat all abusers with love and kindness to prove that I am “good enough and worthy” (to be loved by THEM)
Love does not envy ~ Translation: I should be grateful just for the fact that I am allowed to take up space on this earth and NEVER wish that I had anything good that someone else might have.
Love does not boast, it is not proud~ Translation: How dare I think that I have anything to boast about. Nothing that I have comes from me, I cannot accomplish anything, I cannot have any ideas on my own, I have nothing to contribute in this world. I am hopeless.
Love is not rude~ Translation: NEVER speak up against mistreatment or in defence of myself for that would expose someone else and paint them in a bad light and no one but me is ever wrong
Love is not self seeking~ Translation: Love is not for ME. I should not seek to be loved but only to love. I can make such a great difference in someone else’s life if I love them so always try to love them with no expectations of love in return no matter HOW they treat me.
Love is not easily angered ~ Translation ~ I have no right to be angry. I deserved all the bad things that happened to me. No one is really wrong except me. Anger is a sin. Anger is wrong. Anger is NEVER justified. Something is wrong with me if I am angry and because I don’t want to accept mistreatment.
Love keeps no record of wrongs ~Translation: Forget immediately the harm done to me by everyone else and NEVER bring it up again, never speak of it or reveal it or bring attention to it. If I ever do reveal those secrets, I am no better than the one who did it. Also see the forgiveness rant that I wrote a few weeks ago.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth ~ Translation: I did not really know the difference between evil and truth. No one really taught me the truth. Many taught me evil disguised as truth.
Love always protects ~ Translation: Love protects “them”. And I should protect “them” too. Love is one sided and I should not ever expect it (or “them”) to protect me because as I said above, love is not for me.
Love always trusts ~ Translation: Trust should have its own whole blog post. I tried and tried to trust people that didn’t love me by their own definition of love! I felt guilty because I didn’t trust.
Love always hopes: Translation. Love and hope? I hoped that one day I would be good enough to deserve to be loved. I hoped to be saved by prince charming. To be honest, I am not sure about this one. I hoped for love from people who by their own actions, didn’t care about me.
Love always perseveres: Translation: Keep trying harder to be worthy of love. Keep trying even with the people that treat you like garbage. Just keep trying because then you MIGHT be worthy one day. (and think about this: who did we seek love from? Even romantic love? So often we sought love from someone who (like our abusers) was not capable or emotionally unavailable)
It never occurred to me that by this definition of love NO ONE ever loved ME nor was I ever encouraged to love myself, in fact quite the opposite. (And since today I know that unless there is self love, there is no love then not being taught the true definition of love is a problem.) What did occur to me is that I was not loving THEM and therefore proving to myself and to the world that I was not good enough, I WAS the one to blame, I was BAD.
Everyone is welcome to contribute your feelings and thoughts about this topic.
Stay tuned as I continue in my next post with how I learned to love myself by finding out the truth about how I arrived at NOT loving myself.
Bright blessings wrapped in real TRUTH