Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor. 13:4-7
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, it never was”. I’ve heard this quote attributed to everything from pets to people. As a young girl growing up in the 70s I used to collect sayings like these. They sounded oh so romantic to my teenage heart. I would cut the words out of magazines and hang them on my bedroom walls. I was young and idealistic and loved everything having to do with romantic passion. Love seemed easy—if it was good, keep it around; but if it got hard, let it go and if it came back, then maybe it was meant to be. It was within this idealistic framework that I began dating. When it was good, it was good, but when it wasn’t good, either I let go or was let go—after all, one doesn’t hold onto love too tightly.
Fast forward a few more years to the point where I’d experienced enough of life to learn that truth is too narrow a road to ever be subjective. Quaint sayings and easy love may have been part of the culture I was raised in but it wasn’t the glue that holds society together.
As I matured, not only in years but in spirit, love and family became something I held onto tightly. I took seriously those “love” verses from the Bible found in 1 Corinthians 13 that were included in my wedding vows. I went to church and determined to raise my son to understand the importance of God and family and keeping your promises, even when walking away would have stilled the choppy waters and stormy undercurrents threatening my very soul. I clung to those vows even as friends and family left me and thought me insane. I was convinced that true love held on.
But what if true love turns out to be a little of both? What happens when the act of holding on so tightly suffocates the very air out of the one who is loved? What if true love really is accepting someone for who they are but letting them go as well so they can discover what love is to them? What if insisting on holding onto a relationship really is me trying to have my own way and calling it love? What if true love really is letting go?
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:11-13