February 14, 2020

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Feeling Disappointed

Last Sunday I woke up feeling negative. I had been feeling dissatisfied and marginalized in various ways much of that week without really taking the time to acknowledge it.  And so that morning before church I took the time. I channeled my complaints (which were mostly about other people) into my journal. Then I drove to the nearby Assembly of God.

When I walked through the doors I was greeted and handed a bulletin. I saw that the inserts were red and pink. One was for an upcoming Women's event I couldn't attend. The other was a love quiz.

The Five Love Languages, it said. A Love Language Personal Profile For Couples.

Definitely not, I thought, for me.

I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed. Not because the love quiz wasn't for me, but because it seemed unlikely that this Sunday's sermon would speak into my situation as it so often did.

But I was glad to be there anyway. A friend surprised me with a gift of several books. The music was uplifting. The pastor mentioned me by name during the service. And the sermon was interesting even it wasn't, as I'd decided, for me.

About the Sermon

I found the passage in 1 Corinthians 13 that the pastor was preaching on and followed along in my NIV, not taking notes as I usually did, until something he said caught my attention.

The pastor had been talking about agape love, as opposed to all the other kinds, and then he drew our attention to 1 Corinthians 13:5, and the idea that keeping a record of wrongs others have done to us runs counter to the spirit of agape.

My mind went back to the record of complaints (which were mostly about other people) that I had journaled on just that morning. While journaling my negativity out of my system wasn't wrong, hanging on to it most definitely was.  I opened up my notebook and began to take notes.

The pastor explained that whenever we express love in any of the ways listed in the Love Language insert we hit the general love target, but when we understand the particular 'love language' of another we hit the bull's eye.

Any other. Not only a spouse. Anyone.

When we allow our kindness to flow into the broken area of someone else's life, he said, when we love them in the way they most need to be loved we are acting as Jesus did when he touched the lepers or dined with the outcasts of society.

Then he reminded us of John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you..."

This, he pointed out, is the kind of love that heals people - including, or even especially, the people we feel least inclined to love.

By this time I was scribbling notes in my notebook as fast as I could write and  and by the time we got to the love test, I scanned the categories along with the rest of the congregation.

I didn't take the test then but even a quick scan told me, of the five categories listed (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch), I had always been partial to words of affirmation and, as much as I hated to admit it, gifts.

And then it hit me. I had received several books (my favorite of all possible gifts) from a friend just before the service started.  And I had been affirmed during the service when the Pastor recognized me.

Questions Posed that Sunday

At the end of the service the pastor asked a few interesting questions. I list them, as I remember them, below.

  • If we say we have faith, why not have faith that something supernatural can flow through our words to heal people? 
  • Why not ask the Holy Spirit to empower our words that way? 
  • Why not ask Him to show us how others need to be loved?

Why not?

Today is Valentine's Day.  A day that celebrates eros love. But what if we make today about sharing the other kind of love? The kind that heals the broken places of people in or outside of our family circle? 

And what if we ask the Holy Spirit to help us do it?
Not long after I wrote this post, I returned to the Catholic church.  But I will always treasure the time I spent at the Assembly of God.  

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