4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails.
The other day I was playing “catch” with Noah – which essentially means that I try my very best to throw a baseball directly into his half-open stiff baseball glove despite him occasionally jumping out of the way when he judges that the ball could possibly touch him. Throw after throw, I reminded myself that “this” is what it means to be patient…and suddenly the 1st Corinthian’s verse (13:4-8) popped into my head. And I began to wonder why it is used in almost every wedding ceremony I know to describe the love of two adults….
…..when clearly it was written as encouragement for parents.
Love is patient – and that’s not just in playing catch, it’s in repeating 3 times “do not spill the water, Do not spill the water, DO NOT spill the water…..ahhhh! You spilled the water!” Right. Big breath. Patience.
Love is kind – it is going out of your way to do things for your kids. For example, we’ll just say that maybe the chocolate flavoring was empty and the other night I ran to Target to get some chocolate for Noah’s morning cup of milk….just because I know how much he likes it. Wow – that was nice of me! (boast)
It does not envy – okay, let’s be honest, sometimes it does envy the single friends who go home and sit on the couch, have a quiet dinner, watch some TV and sleep in late on a Saturday morning….
It does not boast. It is not proud. – I certainly don’t boast (too often) about my “love” for my boys – but I love to “boast” about my boys! There’s something so delightful in being proud of your children. When they take their first step. Pedal on two wheels instead of four. Ride a roller coaster solo for the first time. Jump off the diving board. The heart flutters and the mouth wants to scream “that’s my boy” – and you know that usually the only one who understands the depth of this pride is another parent (or grandma!).
This though – this is a hard one. “It is not easily angered.” This one can be a struggle for me. We had a lovely day at Idlewild Park today – just perfect – and I knew we should probably have left around 4pm for the hour drive home. But we were doing “just one more ride” and letting Noah get on the roller coaster for the first time….and it was closer to 5 when we headed to the car. By that time, though, Micah had surpassed his coping threshold and sat on a bench refusing to walk to the car. Threats. Bribes. Cajoling. Tons of energy and finally he dragged along behind me as I pushed the stroller and kept Noah beside me.
When Micah picked up a handful of rocks, though, Noah began nervously looking over his shoulder – I knew he was wondering if Micah would throw them at him. We got to the car, I opened the doors to tuck Seth in….. Micah showered the rocks against the back of the van. I flipped….long streams of meaningless words….got him into the van, demanding that he get in his seat and buckle up. It took 15 minutes and two stops alongside the road “to rest” before his tears and my anger subsided.
“It keeps no records of wrongs” – oh yes it does! Actually, the behavior (“that was really a bad decision, Micah” – substitute in the word “stupid” a couple times, though I keep trying not to) receives consequences (no TV for the next 3 weeks unless you earn some time back), but I have to be able to let it go. I have to work through the frustration of “you ruined a perfectly good day by having a fit at the end.” I have to think through how I could have helped that transition go more smoothly. I have to figure out how to not “flip out” the next time myself.
I sit here still this evening, saddened by the darkness that reared in ugly fury. Frustrated. A true dragon.
Yet, I cling to these words – for these are the words of a parents’ love: “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Read them again.
We hug. We snuggle into bed. Kiss goodnight.
Tomorrow we will do better.
Love will not fail.