Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I write this sitting in a hotel room in Zurich, attending a conference on trauma and transformation. Others attending these lectures are therapists who work with women who have been sexually abused, most by members of their families who tell them that they love them. Most have mothers who, while telling them that they love them, look the other way as abuse is taking place. I can’t avoid thinking, and not only in this context, that many of our messages about love, cultural and familial, are troubling; conflicted at best, evil at worst.
Paul’s list includes love which bears all things and endures all things. All things? Really?
How many women have heard these words as problematic in their own lives? How many men?
I’m also aware that healing the wounds of such traumas, when it is possible, requires not only skill and wisdom, but love of a particularly patient, kind, and hopeful sort. Parsing out what is love and what is not is not only complicated and difficult, but essential.
Does Paul’s “list” help us out with this? How might what he says be destructive? How might it be healing?
What passes for love in my life, in yours? How do we know when we are looking at the real thing? What comes up for you when you hear the words, “love is…”? What’s on your list?
– Beth Harrison