As a pastor, I talk a LOT about love. And honestly, I wonder if it ever really sinks in, not just in those who hear the words about love, but in me too. Love is hard. Love is so very hard.
Love is hardest when I don’t want to or when I am feeling hurt or angry or tired. Love is hard when I feel like I’ve already given and given and not received anything back. Love is hard when I can’t see that it is making any difference at all.
So after a long day that had a full schedule and big attitudes (others’ and my own), love seems extra hard. And yet, love is exactly what those big attitudes need. Love is exactly what my heart needs to give to prevent it from turning to stone. Love is exactly what I need to allow myself to receive to keep from just being a loudmouth.
“If I speak in the tongues of humans and of angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”1 Corinthians 13:1, NRSV
Cymbals in a drumline are great, but a bunch of clanging cymbals in my home and heart are annoying and just too much.
And so, at the end of a long day that had a full schedule and big attitudes, being asked to braid hair seems unreasonable. I mean, don’t you know I’m tired? Don’t you know I don’t want to? Don’t you know I’m feeling angry? Don’t you know I just need quiet time by myself? Don’t you know?
“And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”1 Corinthians 13:2, NRSV
And then I hear that still, small voice reminding me to love. Reminding me that love is not earned or deserved. Love is not always a warm fuzzy feeling. Love is a choice. Love is a verb. Love is action.
And so I sit down and part the hair and hope my hands hold out. And I remember once hearing a kid answer when asked “How do you show respect to your parent?” with the words “I ask her to braid my hair.” And so that night, more nights than I probably want to remember, love looks like braids.
And then, when the braids are done and it is finally time for bed, a cup of hot tea is already waiting for me.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable; it keeps no record of wrongs; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NRSV