How To Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a verse we are all familiar with “Love is patient, love is kind….”. I’m sure most people are familiar with that verse. A few months ago the Lord started using this verse to really change my perspective on relationships – specifically my marriage. We always are told to love one another – but then no one even thinks about HOW to love each other. Seriously – stop for one second after you read this question and answer it to yourself before you continue reading:

How do you love someone? 

There are so many people and entities that effect our outlook on how to love one another – movies, the media in general, romance novels, what we saw growing up – but here is what I found to be so crazy once God put 1 Cor 13 on my heart. The answer on how to love is spelled out word for word in His word and it is a verse we use often but don’t actually seem to apply. We know that the greatest commandment of all is to love one another but then we never take the next step to actually use His word to figure out how to love one another or how to love ourselves. If we want to love ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies, our children, our mothers, our fathers – then we need to learn how to love them, they way Christ called us to love. There is not ONE relationship in your life that cannot at the least be effected by loving the other person like Christ. Loving like Christ changes people, changes circumstances, changes relationships can even change marriages. I saw something that Joyce Meyers said once and it went like this “Everybody is always searching for a word. LOVE EACH OTHER. There is a word that will last you the rest of your life,” and I don’t think she has ever spoken truer words. Now let’s take a look at this “word” that we can study on for the rest of our life and break it down verse by verse so that we can understand how to apply this to our lives. I pray that as you read this you will feel led to leave your comment so  you can share the insight God lays on your heart. I’m just going to use the KJV here but I think it is always helpful to study other versions as well. (This verse from Corinthians is the first verse that I, on my own accord, took and broke down piece by piece – and if you have never attempted this on your own I strongly encourage you to do so. It is a profound and fun experience!)

1 Corinthians 13 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up

  • Charity suffereth long.  So I took the first sentence of the first verse I had ever analyzed and was BLOWN AWAY. Charity suffereth long. The first word, Charity, took me aback a little because I expected it to say love of course. But as I researched I found that Charity first of all did not have the same meaning as it does today when the KJV was translated – but it is used from the Greek word agape – meaning to love in a selfless way that is above and beyond anything sexual or physical. And in the KJV when charity is used it is mean to separate itself from Phileo love which is an affectionate love – the type of love that we would show to someone in our family. So in the first word, of the first sentence we are told that we are getting a lesson that extends beyond the boundaries of our family relationships. This lesson on love is a lesson on all love – the greatest love. The next word suffereth took me back as well. That is not a word with a positive connotation, definitely not as positive as the word that preceded it. So I looked up the definition. Suffereth is Third-person singular simple present indicative form of suffer. Since I had absolutely no idea what that even meant I looked up the definition of suffer, which I thought I pretty much knew but even that surprised me, here is the definition from Merriam Webster:   

1 to submit to or be forced to endure <suffer martyrdom> to feel keenly : labor under <suffer thirst> 2 : undergoexperience : to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable  : to allow especially by reason of indifference <the eaglesuffers little birds to sing — Shakespeare> 1: to endure death, pain, or distress : to sustain loss or damage : to be subject to disability or handicap

Looking at this definition is where my mind really (I have to go get my kids from school. Will finish this later!)

                             

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Bits and Pieces from the Beginning

Today is one day along the journey of this walk I am on with the Lord. Before we can go any further I want to share with you my testimony – I pray that someone will read this and get something out of it.

When I was three I started going to an Episcopalian Pre-School that I attended until I was in 3rd grade. That is where the foundation for Christ began. I learned bible stories, chapel was part of our weekly routine. I learned songs of praise that have stuck in my head til this day (All creatures of our Lord and King, lift up their voices let us sing, hallelujah). My parents never really took me to church and though my mother would speak of God at times it wasn’t something our life seemed founded upon. In third grade I moved to public school. This is also the time when my parents separated for the first time. This left me incredibly lonely. Not only had my father, who I adored with my ENTIRE heart, moved out of the house but my brother who was 11 years older then I was suddenly was in a new relationship and almost never in the house. This same older brother gave me a Bible for my birthday that year and when I was lonely at night I would read my Bible and I began to pray to God. I said the same prayer every night and it is so entrenched in my mind that I found myself a couple of months ago mindlessly repeating it one night as I was trying to fight sleep while praying in my bed (Dear God please watch over Mommy and Daddy and Jimbo and Len and Ivory, [our dog] and all the rest of my family and keep them healthy and safe. Please forgive me for all my sins know and unknown to me…..). I also would lay there at night and talk to God. And I felt God comfort me – I felt his presence. He comforted me and wrapped his loving arms around me when I needed it the most. Then  my parents got back together, I was in public school and I pushed God to the back burner in lieu of friends and sports. Somewhere along the line I was involved with a youth group not because I was trying to have relationship with God but because they did cool things like go on ski trips and most of my friends at the time were a part of it. This youth group took us to a place called Windy Gap where we were able to come closer to God in an environment that was completely focused on Him. One night after praise and worship we were told to go to a quiet place. I went somewhere near the tennis courts, in the middle of these gorgeous mountains and laid on the ground, staring at the stars in the crystal clear sky and gave myself to God. Right there among the stars and the trees and cold, crisp mountain air I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. I remember the Christian artist who was at the retreat, I had his CD but have since lost it and I have wanted to find it but never have been able. However I remember the words to his songs – he said “and I just want to raise my hands up, and scream out loud, let the whole world hear my cry, for no other reason then the freedom I found in Christ”. I didn’t realize what that trip would mean for my life or the meaning those words would evolve into.
After that trip as I went through my years in high school I continued growing further and further from God. I ended up doing things I never thought I would have done and being around people I never would have before. I started believing the lie the devil wanted me to believe about who I was. He is cunning and the master of deception and he even knew how to use my own mother to plant this seed inside of me and keep it watered and growing. Deep down I believed I was a bad person, a liar, a manipulator – just a plain bad kid. After becoming a mother I quit focusing on this but the lie never moved far from the surface, ready to float to the top anytime I allowed myself to be alone with my thoughts, or to evaluate all the bad decisions I had made that resulted in the life I was living. I was in a depression that was so deep I couldn’t even see it. I had slowly started drifting and by the time I was able to get my head above water and take a look I couldn’t even see the shore. Before I knew it I was 23 years old with three kids, married to an alcoholic and drug addict. All my true friends had moved away and were busy with college and easing themselves into adulthood while I was trying to deal with raising three kids, while finishing raising myself, with essentially no help, no friends AND trying to keep an addict on track (which we all know is an impossible task). To top it all off – God was nowhere in the picture. I was even baptized and going to church with my mom – hoping it would rub off on my husband but meanwhile feeling pretty sure that it was a pointless endeavor because there wasn’t even a God in first place. Let me tell you – it is a crazy thing to stand in front of a church and let a Minister baptize you when you don’t even believe in God.
Fast forward two or three years later and I found myself giving out – literally. I couldn’t hold everything together anymore and was breaking down, physically, emotionally and especially mentally. I just felt like I couldn’t keep fighting against my husbands addiction. Chasing an addict around is  not only a fruitless thing but it WEARS YOU OUT and I was worn ALL the way out, not only from chasing an addict but from chasing three little children. Suddenly everything that every fiber of my being had been against I found myself succumbing too – and as I buckled under the pressure of living with an addict I found myself in the middle of an addiction. This is not something I share with people – but it is the truth and part of my testimony and sharing it here I hope will help me to share it where God needs it to be used. In a book I have, which is the basis for this blog, called Victory in Spiritual Warfare there is a line from the author where he says “The devil knows how to use exactly what he needs to take you places you thought you would never go,” and that rung so true with me because he did. He used the exact things he need to use, my inability to keep my house anything other then ABSOLUTELY FILTHY and my weight gain to make cocaine appealing to me – and one night, after my husband was telling me how I wasn’t even a woman because I couldn’t even clean a house….I went back in the bedroom where we had cocaine we had been selling (my bright idea to get us out of the desperate financial difficulties that most people with lots of children and essentially no education find themselves in) and I did it, my first few lines in our bathroom. Luckily for me my children mean enough to me that after the first two months I knew that wasn’t for me and did everything I had to overcome that. And I did. It took me over a year to do it and through that time I cried out to God over and over again and thought he had forsaken me. So it was back to SCREW YOU GOD, YOU DON’T EXIST ANYWAY.
Fast forward again to the tail end of my addiction and I found myself ready for a relationship. At that point I had been with my husband for over a decade and anyone who knows anything about addiction knows that it can be a very isolating, lonely existence, not only for the addict but for their spouse as well. And I was lonely – I had always been lonely. I realized it wasn’t that I couldn’t clean my house but that I had been so isolated, lonely and depressed that I was living in a fog so thick, I could barely move. And I was ready to break out of it – so I started working out. That gave me confidence and one thing led to another and long story short I ended up telling my husband I wanted to separate and finding myself in a relationship with a guy. I thought that he was really special and we were so in love but the truth is love was the furthest thing from what was going on. I needed a relationship with someone who was present and not lost to the fog of addiction and he fit the bill. Being with him was a chance to live in a fantasy world where I didn’t have to think about my addict husband, my kids without a dad, how to pay the bills, how to clean my house, how to survive. That was the blessing and curse all in one – I didn’t have to THINK. That relationship didn’t last very long but I wouldn’t take it back because God used it to bring me back to Him. I literally went up the road on a Saturday night up to no good and ended up in church Sunday. But not just any church, a REAL church where God is the center and there are certainly hypocrites but our leaders are for real. I could feel the Holy Spirit when I walked in the church – the same way I felt Him when I was lay in my bed praying as a little girl. And slowly, as I continued to go to church and God continued to grant me relationships that I so desperately needed with people who were HEALTHY and bringing me closer to God – I brought my head above water and was able to see the shore – and not just see it but realize that my world was no longer spinning and I was finally standing on solid ground.
So here I stand today, a year and a half after finding my way back to God and a lot of changed – but a lot still remains the same. My husband, my family, are still in the middle of one of the biggest fights of our life – his addiction. I have faith in God and I hope that he can overcome. But I am not sitting around waiting for anyone anymore – I have taken off my shoes, cleansed myself and prepared for battle. And the crazy thing is that even though I am in the biggest battle of my life – I am so full of joy. It is the oddest feeling to watch your world fall apart around you and still be OKAY. To see everything going to hell in a hand basket but still be okay BECAUSE “of the freedom I found in Christ.” And I just want to raise my hands up and scream out loud – let the whole world hear my cry, for no other reason then the freedom I found in Christ!