Alea was a colicy baby. Very colicy!!! I was still working, and she cried from just before I got home from work around 3:00 in the afternoon, until around 3:00 in the morning - with a couple of scattered hours of blessed sleep in between. I was sleeping between 2-4 hours a night EVERY night-for months. I gave up breast feeding because she would just thrash and beat against me as I would try to nurse her. She could not stand to be still. When I went grocery shopping I would put her in a sling or front carrier, and every time I would stop to read a label or get something off a shelf, she would start screaming again. When we would be driving through town, every time we stopped at a red light her tirade would begin, and continue until the light changed, and we rushed forward. I remember thinking about running the light. Surely everyone would understand! I would sit there frantically waiting for someone to let me go when waiting to turn. I remember rushing into an opening, and having horns blared and harsh words spoken. I just wanted to cry out "You just don't know what I am going through. If you did, you may understand! Maybe you have been in my shoes. What do I do?"
We all have those moments. We are going through something difficult, and still people react harshly to us, with no understanding of the the challenges we are faced with. Or maybe we have reacted harshly to others. I know I have. The person who cut me off on the freeway. The mother of five paying with five sets of WIC vouchers - in the express lane. The folks at the mall who took the parking space I had been waiting patiently for (pregnant, with a toddler, and in early labor, I might add) and then taunted me about how the exercise would do me some good anyways. I remember wishing I could find another space quickly enough that they would see me laboriously and dramatically exit my car with my enormous belly, pained look, and toddler on my hip, and slowly make my way all the way from my distant parking space, pausing now and then as a contraction hit.
1 Corinthians 13
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Wow! What an incredible lesson Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul's letters frequently mentioned the importance of unity. He tells us in his letter the importance of love. It will endure forever! Without it our actions are meaningless. He instructs us to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to clothe ourselves in patience and kindness, and throw away the robes of jealousy and rudeness.
When Darrell and I were married, our pastor read and explained this passage to us. Then he told us something I will never forget. He told us that our marriage vows were a vow to God, not a vow we made to each other. That really changes the way you see a vow. It really helps you to persevere when you hit rough roads. It is no longer between me and this other person, it is about the relationship between me and God.
Isn't it the same thing when we make a vow to God regarding living our life for Jesus Christ? We commit ourselves to following the commandments God outlined for us in the Bible. We are then told that all of the commandments can be covered by the command to love God, and love one another. Just in case we wonder where to go from there, Paul steps in and teaches us what love is. So, if I don't show patience and kindness towards others, I am breaking my promise to God? I hurt my relationship with God when I am rude and irritable toward one of his children. Don't get me wrong. God is full of mercy. But my witness is damaged. I think of the story of the woman with all the Christian logos on her car, who was stopped by the State Trooper. He saw her yell and 'gesture' to another driver when she was cut off, and assumed the car was stolen.
My goal, of which I constantly fall short, is to capture 1Corinthians, and store it throughout my being. I pray that whenever I face challenges in dealing with other people, that I will pull this passage to the forefront of my thoughts. I pray that I will then move outside myself, stop thinking about how these people are affecting me, and try to see behind the masks they are wearing. I desire to see them through Christ's eyes. I desire to see them with the love that He has for them. I will never know what challenges they are facing, but I pray that God will constantly prompt me to see them as children of God, hidden behind their masks.