If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal....Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Yesterday I startled myself with the sound of my own voice, sharp and exasperated, volume rising with every word. I don't even remember what I was yelling about, only that it was maybe the fifteenth power struggle of the day and I was so over getting lip from my stubborn six year old.
After our collective meltdown, I kept hearing that passage in my head (yeah, that one, the "love chapter", the cliche wedding reading, the one I like to quote to my kids when they aren't being nice to each other). And somewhere in the hours that followed I came to a humbling conclusion.
I don't love my children. Not consistently. Not the way I should.
Sure, I adore them and enjoy them. I find them delightful at times. I would go to any length to protect them. I'd die for them, if it came to that.
And what's ridiculous is how I say I'd give my life for them, yet I struggled to give my daughter just thirty minutes of my Sunday to play doll house. (Have I mentioned how I hate playing doll house?) I became irritable and resentful when their needs and requests conflicted with my own. And I'd rather not give examples, but suffice it to say: my heart wasn't patient, and my voice wasn't kind.
(By the way you guys, falling flat on your figurative face? So not fun. I don't recommend it.)
I can correct their behavior, even quote verses while I'm doing it, but have not love. Clangity clang clang. I can feed, clothe, read, drive, teach, listen, speak. But if I do it resentfully, irritably, impatiently, without love at the center. Yep. Clangy McClangerton.
So I asked my little girl to forgive me. I told my son I'd messed up, that I hadn't modeled what love was supposed to look like, that I 'd been selfish and impatient.
They forgave me, like they always do.
I told them I loved them, so, so much.
And then I played doll house.
Just writing today, with Heather.