This well-known verse is likely recognized by all Christians, and quoted by just about everyone, across religious lines. It is easy to remember these lines and recite them. It’s commonplace to have wedding photos with the Bible open to this verse, and a wedding band propped on top. It’s been written in Hallmark cards a million times, and plastered on photo frames and wall signs. We hear them and see them so much that they become white noise in the background, devoid of their real meaning. They sound so pleasant when we hear them, but do we really understand them? Do we know what it means to love with patience and kindness?
Love is patient. Patience has never been my strong suit; I want it, and I want it NOW! My marriage was riddled with me nagging for things to be done right away, without consideration for my husband. If he was late from work, even a little, I would become impatient and call and text him, angrily reminding him of the dinner that was getting cold, or the plans that were being put off. Even Sunday mornings were not safe from my impatience, as I tapped my foot and gritted my teeth trying to get everyone into the car for church! When we separated, sadly, I was still impatient. I couldn’t let him heal or change his mind because I was demanding him to come home, I could not wait patiently for him. My husband would tell you that I have an abundance of patience… because I’ve never used any of it that God gave me!
In a way, patience is the opposite of control. When we stop trying to control, we learn to be patient.
Love is kind. Kindness is not simply an act or a one-time deed, but a lifestyle, a character trait that defines who you are outwardly, to the rest of the world. Both before and during our separation, my husband had a tendency to make snap judgements on my motivation for things, and react according to what he thought was going on. He would speak and react to me out of that misunderstanding, in a way that was both harsh and unkind. Love does not act this way, instead, love would seek to understand first, rather than choose unkindness as a reaction.
What is desirable in a person is kindness. Proverbs 19:22
Separation and divorce create unique situations that demand patience and kindness from us in order to gain favor in our spouse’s eyes. There is a saying that goes, “Be like the flower that gives its fragrance even to the hand that crushes it.” This is exactly what is required of you during this season in your life, as difficult as it may be. While stepping back for a while is best in order to give your spouse a chance to miss you, your reactions to their negativity, neglect, harsh words, or vindictive behavior are crucial.
Love is patient. When the desire to jump in and rush reconciliation comes, remember this. When your spouse doesn’t seem to be making strides in the right direction, remember this. If your spouse isn’t spending time with your children as agreed, remember this. Let go of the control, and focus on the patience.
Love is kind. When your spouse says something hurtful, let this be your first reaction. Even under insults, threats, and accusations, keep this at the forefront of your mind. Kindness as a defense isn’t just reacting without anger or harsh words, but being proactively thoughtful and kind in your words, deeds, and even in the tone of your voice around your spouse.
Do you struggle with showing patience or kindness right now?
Think of some situations this week where you didn’t show patience or kindness.
What are some better reactions to those situations?