In his letter to the early church at Corinth, Paul sets out how love shows up in the world in his effort to help them get along. It is a frequent text for weddings:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.
To those about to marry, an interesting exercise is to substitute the name of your beloved each time the word ‘Love’ appears. And an even more interesting exercise, for all of us, is to substitute our own names instead of the word ‘love’:
I am patient and kind; I do not envy or boast; I am not arrogant or rude. I do not insist on my own way; I am not irritable or resentful….
How did you do? For many of us, this simple recitation shows us the exact ways and times we are being less than loving and calls us to consider those actions. Must we insist on our own way? How do we know what is right? Isn’t it possible that someone else may be right, too? Are we becoming impatient with others? Can we take a minute to rein ourselves in, breathe deeply, and begin again? Are we holding grudges? Can we let the past go and try to make our present the best possible? And so on.
These checks we can do to measure our progress and monitor our moods against the ideal of love can be very helpful to keep us on track showing up in this world as close to lovingly as we can get.