i want out

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That night is very clear in my mind.  She sat down with me, Bible in hand, turning the pages to 1 Corinthians 13.  She wanted us to read it together.  And so I read this passage about love with my (now ex-) girlfriend.  To make a long story short, she said Paul’s interpretation of love was not an accurate description of our relationship, or of me and what I offered.  She wanted out.  And so it was over.

Allow me to take some liberties with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Brett is patient, Brett is kind.  He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud.  Brett is not rude, nor is he self-seeking.  Brett is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs.  Brett does not delight in evil, but he rejoices with the truth.  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.  Brett never fails.

You know, I’m still not all of these things.

I’m reminded of a different girlfriend, though — the one who is now my wife.  And I’m no longer remembering a single moment, but several.  My wife sits down with me and acknowledges full well that I am not all of these things.  But she sees my heart, she knows my intentions, and she recognizes my direction.  Most of all, she is merciful and she is gracious.  And in her great love (empowered by God himself), she keeps (or tries her best to keep) no record of wrongs.  She perseveres.  And she loves me.  Just as love doesn’t give up, Christie doesn’t quit.  She’s not perfect, but she loves me.

And isn’t that the point?

If all spouses were perfect, there would be no temptation to keep lists of wrongs.  Why would one need to persevere if there were no obstacles to overcome?  If every individual I knew was both steadfast and reliable, where would be the difficulty in trusting?  I’m not suggesting love can only exist in an imperfect world.  Rather I’m proposing that love is able to overcome an imperfect world.  The answer to an imperfect relationship is not to run and find a perfect one; the answer is to love.  And God, much like Christie (only better), demonstrates it time and time again.

Allow me again to take a few liberties with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

God is patient, God is kind.  He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud.  God is not rude, nor is he self-seeking.  God is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs.  God does not delight in evil, but he rejoices with the truth.  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.  God never fails.

While there may one day be an evening in which God and I sit together reading the words of Paul, I am both confident and thankful he’ll never point to my many imperfections, while saying these words:  I want out.

He loves me.


This post is the last in a series on love from chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians.  You can find other posts here:

  • monkey love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
  • i want out (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
  • the God behind tinted windows (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
  • faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

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    26 Comments

    Filed under family, love

    26 responses to “i want out

    1. Pingback: monkey love « aliens and strangers

    2. Zee

      wow, well put, Brett.

      I’m not suggesting love can only exist in an imperfect world. Rather I’m proposing that love is able to overcome an imperfect world. – love this (heh…)

      thanks for the reminder.

    3. Zee stole my thunder James. Those were exact same words that caught my eye. Whether referring to human love or to God’s love for us, they hold true. I believe that Christie sure holds the greater understanding of these few verses than your ex-girlfriend. She was looking for perfection. Christie is showing love. Well put post!

    4. if spouses were perfect marriage wouldn’t be a challenge, and it wouldn’t grow us. it might actually be quite dull.

    5. It is quite an humbling experience to insert one’s name in the verses as you have. I suspect the place where many find their theology further stretched, though, is in the phrase, “God keeps no record of wrongs.”

      Do we really believe that? Really?

      • john, when typing that bit about God not keeping a record of wrongs, i actually reread it two or three times, making sure it was “theologically” true before i published it. i know in my head it’s true, but i don’t think it’s penetrated to the rest of me yet. there is some small part of me that finds it hard to believe, and harder yet to feel.

    6. — “when typing that bit about God not keeping a record of wrongs, i actually reread it two or three times, making sure it was “theologically” true”

      –Ha!

      I needed this post today. Thanks!

    7. I don’t really feel like I’m good enough for God to love me at all.

      I feel like my son did yesterday when I yelled at him and he said I was making him feel like I didn’t love him.

      That hurt. But it hurt because I know it was true.

      I feel like if I could just be a little better, God would love me more. But I’m not very good. And sometimes, I give up on even trying, and that makes me feel even less good. Which means that I feel even less like God loves me.

      Yet. God is love. There is no more improved model. He is perfect and He is love.

      If He does not love me, then there is none that does. Thus, I allow myself to feel abandoned and alone way too often.

      I must learn to come back to the Godly promise and definition of love, I must learn to trust what He tells me that He intends toward me.

      My son questioned my love because of my imperfection and failure to properly communicate my desire for him to change His behavior. I question God’s love because I do not fully trust what He has said. I simply don’t see HOW He can love me as much as He says He does, because I’ve not been a good enough son to deserve it.

      Even though I know that I will love my son always and forever, no matter what he does.

      God’s love is even stronger and more perfect than mine.

      I just wish I could truly understand, believe, and trust that. I’m pretty sure I don’t.

      • bernard, i hope it’s okay if i pray for you on here (if you’d prefer me not to, let me know and i’ll delete this comment):

        Father, i pray that you will bless bernard to know and feel your love. i pray you will enable him to no longer feel he needs to act in order to gain your love — but rather that he will act out of your love. i pray that you empower him to be a father to his children as you are to him, and i pray that you’ll allow him to trust you more each day. give bernard greater faith, and bless others through the blessings that you pour onto him. amen.

        bernard, i want to thank you for your honesty. it’s both refreshing and encouraging to me.

        • That line about “give bernard greater faith” is extremely appreciated.

          There’s a whole post lurking in my head that I don’t have the nerve to write, called “The Night My Faith Died.” It’s about the night that, in the pouring rain, during the construction of our house, that the struggles of building a home combined with a wife in her first pregnancy (yeah, with the son that I yelled at), drove me to near insanity and I sat in the dark screaming at God. Tears running down my face, rain pouring all over me, feeling totally screwed up, forsaken and alone, I lost every confidence that I could pray and God would answer. I don’t remember the particular issue that broke “the camel’s back”, but I have been almost certain ever since that night that a kind of death had happened. Perhaps that God would never care for me again, that everything I touched would be cursed, and that I would never know the moments of intense fellowship with God again. That was almost nine years ago. Since then, I’ve had heart surgery, some significant depression, and a long season of intense struggle with the issue of “am I even ‘saved’?” Hard stuff for me to deal with. I’ve felt incredibly alone, even while in the presence of a family I love dearly, and the ill temper has been much closer to the surface than I would like. The happy-go-lucky, always fun guy that my sweet wife married in 1998 has disappeared and been replaced with a person that I absolutely cannot stand.

          In my heart, I am still able to convince myself that God does love me, because I grasp at enough faith to believe the Bible and I believe that the only way to salvation is Jesus Christ, and He was my sacrifice because God loves me. But I all too often feel as though it’s God versus Bernard, and that I’m losing.

          And that’s probably enough of my sob story; I have no idea why I decided to share it here and now. Just sharing a little bit of the heart. I think Christians tend to hide their real thoughts a lot of the time and play plastic mask games. We’re scared that somebody will curse us to hell because we don’t believe as fully and easily as they do, so we claim that our faith is strong even when it’s not.

          My faith is stubborn, but it’s not really strong. Much like a blade of grass in the wind – it bends and flexes, but it’s harder to break than the oak tree. I bet I’m not alone. 🙂

          • i believe God will honor that request for greater faith. and i will continue praying it, bernard. i promise.

            thanks again for your honesty, and for your struggle. lots of people aren’t willing to struggle; instead they give up.

          • Ike

            Bernard,

            Depression can take a person in a very dark hole. Instead of just being depressed…..we tend to “spiritualize” it…..which makes it even worse. What you have described and how you felt about the Lord is very typical when being clinically depressed. The good news……it will lift. Some people need medication and many of the newer med’s work great. I feel for you brother……I can testify that there is light at the end of that dark tunnel.

            “Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ. Never look back at your sins again. Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the blood of Christ.’ That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you.”

            Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, page 35.

    8. BekaD.

      Powerful! I love your way with words. Thanks for the reminder!

    9. I enjoyed that. Good thoughts.

    10. VERY well said. I think that is what I love about love – or how we are told to love in 1 Cor. I love that example and sometimes I even like that it is not so easy, that I have to work at it. By working at it, I can feel and see it grow stronger in me. Like you (and all other humans on the planet) I am not all of those things, but I sure do enjoy trying to be. To love someone like that is wonderful, not only for the love-ee, but the lover as well.

    11. David Robinson

      A few months ago I was in trouble with the wife (don’t even remember what i did?)… in the dog house buddy.

      I ended up studying and using this passage with the “I will” statements. Really helped me a lot. Same idea as inserting your name, but it helped me make a better decision.

      When I say, “I will be patient, I will be kind…” I realize the power of this Godly anti-selfish-culture being suggested.

      • i’m glad i never get in trouble with my wife. but if i ever do, i’ll give your 1 cor 13 “i will” statements a go. actually, it’d make more sense to do it before, i guess.

    12. Carley

      Thanks. Needed this today. 🙂

    13. Pingback: the God behind tinted windows « aliens and strangers

    14. Pingback: gripping thoughts from john 2 – part one « your best life later

    15. I think its interesting that your ex looked at YOU and used your supposed failures as a reason to breakup… I had the same 1 Cor 13 conversation w/an ex a long time ago, but in our conversation I was able to confess to him that I was not any of those things (nor did I want to be with him because he was not the person for me and I knew it)… and it was that scripture that really helped me see that the relationship I was in was not where I needed to be.

      I can’t imagine using that scripture to beat someone over the head with though – that is so unkind. 😦

      • it was unkind, maybe. but i also deserved it, i’m sure. but it’s nice that God doesn’t give me what i deserve. and i’m gonna’ say you’re the exception to a rule with confessing and not pointing out faults…

        thanks for coming by.

    16. Pingback: men are from mars… | aliens and strangers

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