At age twenty, planning our wedding, we chose 1 Corinthians 13 as one of our readings:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We had been through a lot together and had some sense of the depth and breadth of our love. Protects - check! Trusts - check! Hopes , perseveres - check and check! Kind? Of course! Patient ... well, mostly. Our love was solid. Unshakable.
Enter children, lifestyle choices, work, financial issues, and all the stresses of adulthood. Add in mental health issues and physical health issues, which sent our seemingly vibrant family on a downward spiral.
Faith, hope, and love were put on trial.
Through those turbulent times, love was sometimes lost to easy anger and keeping tally of wrongs. It was never out of reach, we just needed to put aside self-serving opinions and reach out for it. We needed to pull it to us, wrapping ourselves in its comfort and warmth instead of instead slipping into the icy cloak of rage. At times anger seemed easier than caring, but anger sees no future, only recalling past hurts and serving selfish now. Anger sucked the life out of our marriage.
But ... but!!!! love was still there. Love didn't disappear. We didn't instantly hate each other because we'd disagreed. Love stayed with us, expecting good things from us. Love expected us to let go of anger. Love expected tomorrow to come, and with it a new beginning.
When we were able to let go of anger and work toward a better understanding of each other, we were able to cultivate our love. Love, in its infinite capacity for patience, forgiveness, and kindness, infused life into our marriage.
Now things are different. We've grown in love and learned a lot about each other and about life. I'm not saying that I don't still get angry - I do. I'm not saying I don't fly completely off the handle sometimes, either. But I am able to reach out beyond anger to love. I'm able to feel love more and anger less. For ...
In love is patience always found, for love kind hearts make common ground. From love conceit and pride take flight and jealousy is banished. Love keeps no score of what's gone wrong nor sings a pessimistic song, nor lets regret and guilt prolong, for love expects tomorrow. ~John Bell, "A Song of Paul"