Monday, August 16, 2010

What is Love?

What is love? Is it the butterflies we get when we see the guy or girl we are attracted to? Is it the warm feeling we have when we hold a newborn baby for the first time? Is it the look shared between a couple married for 50 years? Or maybe it’s the stories shared over coffee with two best friends. I think love goes deeper than this. In Radical Wednesday (Bible study on Wednesday nights with Coach F. for those of you who don’t already know), we’ve been doing a word study on 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. For those who don’t know that passage, I’m copying it here. “Love is patient, love is 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.”

I think it’s also vital to look at the opening verses in that chapter, as they set the tone for this passage. “If I could speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but had not love, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but had not love, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I own to the poor and sacrificed my body to be burned, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others I would gain nothing.”
Love, according to the Bible, is vitally important, and it goes so much deeper than the things I mentioned at the start of this entry. Even having all knowledge, without love, would mean nothing. That’s a hard concept to realize. Because there are days when, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences this, I don’t feel like loving someone. Someone’s hurt my feelings, or I don’t like the person in question, and it’s hard for me to try and show them love. But yet, God tells me that even if I have everything else together, I still have to have love.

Love is patient…this is something I struggle with personally. This means that we do sometimes have to be willing to wait. After all, patience is a fruit of the spirit. It’s hard to sit there and love someone patiently. This means that even if the individual has no interest in your loving them, you still have to patiently show them that you will be there for them.

Love is also kind. It’s easy for me to be kind to someone… but, unfortunately, sometimes it’s not really sincere. I’m kind to them because I have to be, or because the Bible tells me to, not because true love is characterized by me being genuinely kind to them. Something Coach mentioned when he was talking about this trait is that is also means being able to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness. It’s hard to be kind to someone that you have wronged. And, as Christian brothers and sisters, this is vitally important. This also requires that we humble ourselves in order to accept that we have done wrong.

Now for the four things love is not. Love is not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. When Paul wrote this, he could have simply said “Love is humble.” Instead, however, he chose to give us four traits that, while similar, are also slightly different. There’s a good kind of jealousy and a bad kind. This took a while for us to understand when Coach was teaching it, but the kind of jealousy Paul is mentioning in here is when you wrongly want something of your neighbors for yourself. It’s a lot like coveting. Paul tells us that boasting is absolutely bad, but in one passage he tells us to boast if we must, but only in our weaknesses. This will help us to maintain our humility. Being rude is just downright annoying to most people.

Pride…that one word is mentioned many times throughout the Bible, always in a negative way. The Bible says pride goes before a fall and the Lord detests the proud. Those are just two examples of many. This is also something that I struggle with, and I believe most Christians probably struggle with this as well. We tend to think ourselves better than everyone else….we have been given God’s gift of life…which we often promptly forget was a gift and we start looking down on everyone who is not “like us.” Likewise, I think it’s something that any of us who didn’t attend the public school have a double dose of. You see, we had what we might consider a “better education” than those who didn’t have the opportunities that we had. Therefore, we might be tempted to lord that over our friend’s heads. This can even be boiled down to simply having something more than someone else, whether it is a car, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a new CD, or a vacation. Love is not proud. That cannot be said enough. Therefore, true love can only be reached when an individual completely humbles themselves.

Love does not demand its own way is basically another way of saying love is not selfish. It does not want for itself, but for others. It’s difficult to love unselfishly, because there’s always going to be a part of us, as humans, that are self-seeking. We want things for ourselves. But true love is willing to sacrifice everything they own for another individual. This I also struggle with. Some days, it’s so easy to not want to do something for someone else. If I’m tired, or stressed, or just want to spend a day in bed relaxing, it’s hard for me to love someone enough to talk to them if they’re having a rough day, or go out and pick them up from the airport. But yet, I am told I must.

Love also is not irritable. This is a huge whammy for me. If I’m tired, stressed, upset, or just in a bad mood, it’s so very easy for me to be irritable. Snapping at people seems almost natural, especially if they cross my path at the wrong times. Sometimes if all I want to do is write something, or read a book, and someone interrupts me, it’s so hard for me to show them true love. But love is not irritable. Love is calm, and so if I were to act in true love, I would take a moment before answering someone and ask God to give me calmness and love in my answer.

Love keeps no record of wrong. I’m not one of those people that can hold a grudge; in fact, I honestly can’t stay mad for more than an hour or so unless someone seriously pushes my buttons. Yet, this can be an issue for people. It’s hard to let things go sometimes. If our mom wrongly accuses us of something, if our boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with is, or if our best friend spreads rumors about us, our first default emotion is anger and holding a grudge against that person. But we are called to forgive them…and to forget the wrongdoing. You know when people say “I’ll forgive you, but I’ll never forget what you did?” Well, that’s not showing true, Godly love…and it’s hard to follow, I know. God wants us to love this way for a reason. When we keep records of wrongdoing, we are susceptible to develop all the other negative traits that Paul mentioned.

“It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.” This statement goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. By keeping no record of wrong, we are not able to rejoice in injustice. Rejoicing in injustice would enable us to develop a prideful spirit, and a hurt air. But rejoicing when truth wins out requires us to remain humble. Also, if boasting becomes an issue, we would be boasting in the truth.

Finally, love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Every time I read that passage, I think of how many people give up on love. When a marriage is rough, how many times do you hear about couples getting divorces? If a friend hurts your feelings, how many times are you willing to forgive them and give them another chance? If a girl you are interested in ignores you, how many times are you willing to be a man and pursue her? My guess is not much. But Paul says love NEVER gives up and is always hopeful. Love never fails. Those three words are so powerful, and I believe Paul saved it until the end of the passage for a reason. To let us know that true love, even when we mess up, will never fail and is always willing to persevere. And that, my friends, is true love.

Sometimes it’s hard to do this. I know I don’t have all the qualities of love, as much as I would love to have those. But I’ve learned that love takes time. This will be something that I will be forever growing in and learning about. In my 20 years on earth, I’ve already learned so much about love, and how to love like Christ, and yet I’m still nowhere close to perfection. In fact, I’m pretty far from it. But the more I spend time with my Lord, reading his word, and trying to practice what He wants (with His help of course) the easier love will be for me to practice. And so I ask again: What is love? I believe love goes deeper than what I mentioned at the start. True love can only be earned or given through Christ’s love.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just for fun

If you want to do this, leave a comment and:

1. I'll respond with something random about you.
2. I'll tell you which song or movie you remind me of.
3. I'll say something that only makes sense to you and me.
4. I'll tell you my first memory of you.
5. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
6. I'll ask you something I've always wondered about you.
7. I'll tell you my favorite thing about you.
8. I'll pick a new name for you.

Silly, I know. :)

And yes, Abigail, I am copying you. ;)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Years!

So I've thought about a few New Years resolutions. It's hard for me to come up with ones that are actually a) followable and b) benificial. My list is as follows:

1) Cultivate my spiritual life more: I feel like this needs to have top priority. Oftentimes, I'll find myself putting off my spiritual time to do other things. This is something I desperately need to work on

2) Becoming a better servant: It's not easy for me to be willing to serve others (ie: at Christmas when there's sooo much more fun stuff to do than cleaning dishes), but I intend on working on this.

3) Actually practice more: My piano playing is not horrible, but I don't spend the amount of time on it that's needed to keep the skill alive. My goal is to spend time each week practicing.

4) Spend more time studying: It's easy for me to procrastinate, whether it be by facebook, texting, hanging out with friends, music, books or whatever. I'm going to try and cut some of this down and get myself on a better study schedule.

5) Categorize and catalog my book collection: I have over 5 bookcases of books in this house, and oftentimes don't know what I own. My goal is to organize these, categorize them, and catalog them.

That's the extent of my list (for now). Happy New Years!!!! !:)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in a nutshell


My 19th birthday (and getting stranded on the side of interstate 40)
Trips to Wilmington
second semester at Meredith
Jamie found out she was pregnant with Charlie. :)

Nana and PawPaw's 50th wedding anniversary party
Spring Break spent in bed with a bad case of the flu
Jeff Corwin came to Meredith

Naam's birthday and movie party
Still taking trips to Wilmington.
The month in which I THINK Ally and John started dating....could have been February
Josh Gracin concert

Fire and Water Dinner
Music Man
I went on Crutches for my knee
Shopping Trip and photoshoot with Lizzie, Sarah, and Jess

Matthew's race
The Smothers Brothers
Semester ended
Figured out what I did to my knee and started treatment
Sarah's wedding

Field of Dreams weekend
Summer swim meets start
Shopping trips with Lizzie and Sarah
Week in Richmond helping grandma Barbara move

Seahawks have another undefeated season!!!!!
Sound of Music at Memorial Auditorium
Fun Meet and swim team banquet
Tales of the Kingdom summer theatre camp

William and Jamie's baby shower
End of season water polo and swimming 2 week session
Father/Daughter Dance
School Starts up again
The Getty's show

Contra dancing!!!!
William and Jenn's wedding
Declared my major
Sleepover with Jess
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus show

Mary Katherine's 14th Birthday
Charlie is born!
A Day at Abigail's. :)
BA homecoming
NC State Fair with the best friends.

Village Night
Cornhuskin' in which the sophomore class beat out the juniors!!!!! :)
Blind Side movie with Katrina and Jennifer
Hokies win the UVA/VT game....again. :)
Barn Dance

TSO concert
Phantom of the Opera
Christmas with the family
Emily's 16th birthday celebration extraveganza

It's been an amazing year!!!!!! I can only hope 2010 is as awesome!
New Years Eve at Lizzie's. :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Psalm 104

Praise the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.

He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.

You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.

You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.

He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.

The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the pine trees.

The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the coneys.
The moon marks off the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.

You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.

The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
Then man goes out to his work,
to his labor until evening.

How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

These all look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.

When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.

When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works-
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the LORD.
But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.

Praise the LORD, O my soul.
Praise the LORD.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Learning to be content

One thing most people should know about me is that I am NOT a person who enjoys change. This week was no exception. I love snow, but unfortunately Raleigh didn't get more than an inch. This meant, however, that Virginia got a TON. Particularly where my cousins live in Manakin-Sabot. As of last night, they had 2 feet. Because of this little snow problem, it meant a change of plans. Our annual family Christmas party was last night. Because we don't have a four-wheel drive vehicle, like my Aunt Betsy, and we're not going to rent one like my Aunt Martha did, Daddy decided we would not be attending this years party.

For a few hours, I struggled with a lot of emotions. I finally realized that I could either let this setback ruin my weekend, or I could try and make it a fun weekend despite the setback. So I convinced my parents (who hate ballet) to go to Field of Dream's production of The Nutcracker. It was a VERY fun night. The ballet was fantastic. One of my friends, Matt, played piano during intermission, and was amazing as usual. Afterwards, we all stood around talking, and Lizzie and I decided to start singing since they do it in musicals all the time, and we thought it was time we were part of a real life musical. :)

Jessica rode with me from my house, so when we drove back we sat outside in the bed of my truck (in the cold) and had lots of deep conversations. And of course, one prank call (sorry, Neil!!!!). I love deep conversations. Somehow, I think they're a necessary part of life. All that to say is that this weekend wasn't entirely ruined... in fact, I think it might have been better than going to Virginia. I have the best friends in the entire world. I don't know what I would do without Lizzie, Sarah, Kara, Matt, Nathan, Jess....and everyone else that I'm leaving out. :P

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thoughts on relationships, love, and flirting

I've been pondering this a lot lately. I've made some mistakes in my life when it's come to guys....most girls have. I, being the typical teenage fool of a girl, fell for a boy when I was about 14. That lasted until I was 18, believe it or not. Then I had a random...well, I guess it's best to call it a rebound summer with another guy. Nuff said on that one. I learned a lot throughout this whole situation. The entire time I was "in love", or whatever you so chose to call it, I realized a few things. The first is that I learned how much time I had taken away from God, and put into this guy. It became almost an idolatry thing for me. And I realized that a lot of relationships are like this, if you don't constantly check yourself and make sure god is the head still.

The rest of what I learned ties into a lot of what I've been thinking recently. I've watched as several of my close friends lately have either ended a relationship, or had their respective boyfriends or girlfriends call the relationship off. And I've seen the pain, and I remember the pain that I went through. And the more I see it, the more I realize that it's pointless....God created our heart for one person. Not for multiple. So when we're constantly "falling" for guys or girls, slowly we're giving away pieces of our hearts. A lot of times, this occurs without knowing whether or not the respective person is interested...and more likely than not, they aren't. It's like an illustration a guy I know used one time when talking about this. Say you have a nametag, one of those sticky ones. And you stick it on your shirt once, and then remove it. It's still sticky enough to use again. But the more you do this, the less sticky it becomes. Until it's hard to make it stay anywhere. This is what giving part of your heart away is like.

I'm not saying this path is easy to follow. NOT liking a guy is significantly harder than liking a guy, I know. But though it's the path less traveled, and takes significantly more work to do, it's a less thorny path. Now don't get legalistic with this, in that you can never like a guy ever. But like Jane Austen said in Northanger Abbey: " for if it be true, as a celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman's love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her."

Onto my views on flirting. This is something that has annoyed me for years. I've always disliked it when people flirt, particularly when the flirting isn't returned, and it's obvious that the (typically) girl is throwing themselves at the guy (typically....sometimes this is reversed). But after a conversation with Lizzie (what are best friends for?) I've realized that even so much as singling another person out over others can have the same vibe as flirting. It's not as severe, but it is still a form of flirting. And the only time this should occur is when the person in question is serious about starting a relationship.

Once again, I have to caution against taking this to the extreme. I have quite a few guy friends, I always have. But there's a difference between having guy friends, talking to them, and spending time with them, and flirting. When it's evident that they are the first person you go to before your girlfriends, especially if you are not related to them or they are not your boyfriend/fiance/husband, then there is a slight problem there. And I think this is where so many girls and guys end up getting their heartbroken.