Monday, November 30, 2009

Dearly Beloved

At the wedding, the pastor read from and expounded upon 1 Corinthians 13. Love always trusts. Always hopes. Love endures. In his exposition, the pastor treated the passage as a text for marriage counseling. “Debbie, ‘love always trusts’ means that you always look for the most loving, most positive way of interpreting Doug’s behavior. When he’s late, rather than becoming irritated and angry and possibly even jealous, think, ‘he’s probably gone to buy me flowers’”

My first thought was “How simplistic! It’s one thing to love deeply, another to make oneself into a doormat, a fool!” And then I heard my own thoughts and was ashamed. Love believes all things and is never deceived. Love hopes all things and is not put to shame. Love requires complete vulnerability all of the time, forever. Love means being willing to never harden oneself against the beloved. Love loves the beloved even when it is unclear just how to go about doing so.

Love means not – ever – scolding my mother
Love means endless patience, no matter how infuriating she is
Love means pretending to be cheerful
Love means pretending to love her

It is so much work. And it is lonely. Extremely lonely. Once cannot very well call up a friend and say “Had the worst time of it pretending to love my mother today.”

We missed the reception. My mother felt unwell. My sister and I were, for various reasons, unable to drive. We missed the reception.

My aunt called my mother and accused her of ruining every family event, of having planned to avoid the reception, of lying about her health; she said she wished my mother had never been born into their family; she said she was sick of having to put up with my mother and was finished with her.

Love means it doesn’t matter whether I am loved. It doesn’t matter whether I am happy. I don’t get to count myself. Even if no one loves me, I have to love my mother (for example).

Love means becoming an eternal wellspring for the beloved, even if/when there is no one who can or will do the same for me.

How I wish, though, that there were a shoulder somewhere in this world with my name on it!

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