What all kinds of love have in common
From 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
This story was written by a family member and read by Laura Schlessinger on her radio show:
“When I was growing up, I used to wish my parents would divorce, and we would go live with my dad. My mother was manic depressive schizophrenic, so she was not mentally capable of raising my brothers and sisters (six in all)….My father played both mother and father. He would go to work, come home, fix dinner, clean the house and then play with us. I never heard him complain about his life. She was extremely hard to live with and unrelenting because of her disease. She had very few good days (as we called them) but my father always treated her with love and respect. Everyone who know our situation said he was a saint.
“I once asked my father why he didn’t leave her because of all the pain she caused all of us. He expressed the following: that she, before her illness, was an amazing woman whom he loved dearly. When she was at her worst he thought very hard about leaving (this was about 1961), but decided he couldn’t because we would all be put in foster care and no one would take care of her. He said he put his trust in God to help out on the bad days. It was truly for better or for worse….
“My mother in the last few years of her life had mellowed more and had more better days than bad. They lived in an assisted living facility for the last two years of their lives. The nurses told us they had never seen a more loving couple than my parents. When the nurses woke them up each morning, they were cuddled together. My mother worried about my dad as much as he worried about her. They were married 55 years until they both passed away within two months of each other.”
charity envieth not;
You cannot make someone love you, make them change, or control what others say and do. Envy can come into play when you see something someone else has that you want. Envy is also when you want someone to do something different or love you differently. Loving relationships are full of contentment and approval.
charity vaunteth not itself,
Some kinds of love have strings attached. If there is an expectation of appreciation, admiration or attention, the kind or loving action is being used to elevate the giver. It is also not loving to expect a loving action in return. Love should not be used to buy, manipulate or form friendships or alliances.
Real love doesn’t debase the self either. If the love given to others means neglecting yourself, the gift is not good. Love comes from the overflow of good things not from emotional poverty.
is not puffed up,
Overvaluing the self is a protective strategy in which a person inflates their characteristics, actions and accomplishments. This strong need to protect oneself hurts intimate relationships because admitting mistakes is really important in diffusing anger and frustration. Sometimes being puffed up leads to feelings of superiority but other times it leads to jealousy and envy. It’s better to give admiration and attention than to seek it for oneself. When I feel love for myself and others I appreciate my own worth and the the uniqueness of others.
Doth not behave itself unseemly,
“The misuse of that procreative power in degraded acts of perversion is widely promoted as the right of consenting adults.” (Packer) Love is not enjoyed in the sexual perversions of our day.
seeketh not her own,
Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. “Seeking your own” can be any action that demands the world treat you as special or try to make someone love you. Sometimes people seek their own by mentioning their exploits or brilliant moments. Sometimes people constantly point out the faults and weaknesses of others. In any situation where you compare yourself to others, you are not being loving.
is not easily provoked,
“Imagine you are happily eating breakfast, and your partner suddenly criticizes you for burning the waffles….you might say something like this: ‘You’re really upset that I burned the waffles again.’ Your partner might then respond: ‘Yes, I am!’ … [If you didn’t defend yourself but instead said] ‘I’ll get an extension cord and bring the waffle iron into the dining room, where we can keep a closer eye on it.’ your partner [will be] disarmed by your rational tone of voice and…ability to think of an alternative solution.” Staying engaged in the face of anger and showing that you are an ally by acknowledging the emotion and suggesting a remedy is real and constructive love. (Hendrix)
thinketh no evil;
How can you think evil and be loving? If there are pornographic images in your head, your ability to love a real woman is impeded because the images portray an impossible reality.
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. ” (Packer)
When love is challenged, the truth will overcome the negative attitudes and behaviors limiting it. Studying the truth in God’s word guides us to the most effective changes we can make.
Beareth all things,
Love endures discomfort for the sake of connection. Some of us need to bridle our passions and other need to awaken the passions. Either way, we bear with the inequality of the passions as we work to strengthen our relationships. "When Alma said, 'bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love,' he did not say we should suppress or eliminate our passions but rather bridle them—harness, channel, and focus them. Why? Because disciplining our passions makes possible a richer, deeper love." - Alma 38:12, quoted and elaborated on by Bruce C Hafen
believeth all things,
Corrie Ten Boom “was very much in love and had thought her love was returned. But then one day the young man came to her door with another young woman. He wanted to introduce Corrie to his fiancée. The family rallied around to help her face this crisis. After the young couple left, Corrie fled to her bedroom, where she lay sobbing. She writes: 'Later, I heard Father’s footsteps coming up the stairs. For a moment I was a little girl again waiting for him to tuck the blankets tight. But this was a hurt that no blanket could shut out, and suddenly I was afraid of what Father would say. … Of course he did not say the false, idle words.
“‘Corrie,’ he began instead, ‘do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain.
“‘There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. … Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way.’” (Smith)
Real love encourages us to keep believing in love.
hopeth all things,
Love hopes for the beautiful fruits of a lifetime of caring, compassion and commitment. It is easy to hope at the beginning like the bride in this story. “Another bride sighed blissfully on her wedding day, ‘Mom, I’m at the end of all my troubles!’ ‘Yes,’ replied her mother, ‘but at which end?’ When troubles come, the parties to a contractual marriage seek happiness by walking away. They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they’re receiving what they bargained for. But when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through. They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God.” (Hafen)
“For some, your family life is very torn. In the musical Les Miserables, Fantine sings of her childhood dream “that love would never die.” Then she cries, “But the tigers come at night … [and] tear your [dreams] apart.” I have seen plenty of tigers tear at people’s dreams.” (Hafen) Real love keeps the hope alive despite the tigers.
endureth all things.
If you knew what love looked like at the end of a long life of commitment, you would see what a treasure it is. Here is one example from the last journal entry of John Haslem.
“The clatter of racing feet, the laughter and babble of tongues have ceased. We are alone, We two. We two whom destiny has made one. Long ago, it has been sixty years since we met under the June trees. I kissed you first. How shy and afraid was your girlhood. Not any woman on earth or in heaven could be to me what you are. I would rather you were here, woman, with your gray hair, than any fresh blossom of youth. Where you are is home. Where you are not is homesickness. As I look at you I realize that there is something greater than love, although love is the greatest thing in earth. It is loyalty. For were I driven away in shame you would follow. If I were burning in fever your cool hand would soothe me. With your hand in mine may I pass and take my place among the saved of Heaven.”
- quoted by Bruce C Hafen
Charity never faileth
Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want. Henry Holt and Co. 2008.
Nina W Brown, Children of the Self-Absorbed. New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 2008.
Bruce C. Hafen, “Bridle All Your Passions” Ensign, Feb 1994.
Bruce C. Hafen, “Covenant Marriage,” Ensign, Nov 1996, 26.
Bruce C. Hafen, “Your Longing for Family Joy,” Ensign, Oct 2003, 28.
Barbara B Smith, “Love is Life,” New Era, Feb 1986.
Boyd K Packer, “Little Children,” Ensign, Oct 1986.
Heart Hands: Flickr/Craig Edwards
Puppeteer: By Liz Lawley (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Burnt Waffle: - Flickr/Lynn Gardner
Old Couple - Flickr/Candida.Performa