Love is Not…Easily Angered

I used to be irritable to a fault:  Everything and everyone irritated me.  At the end of the day I found myself angry for reasons that seemed important at the time.  But when I sat down and prayed, God (love) helped me identify the root cause of my anger and to develop a different perspective.  I remember listening to a sermon from a preacher in which he reminded the congregation that it was not in God’s will for us to fight every battle that presented itself.  What appeared to be an attack on me was simply a distraction from my true purpose.   More importantly, my negative attitude only alienated the people who were dear to me.

Anger definitely has its place.  But I encourage you to do what I have learned to do. Store up your anger for what is important in life: like when someone in your household deletes one of your DVR recordings to make space for their own.  Or when you ask for light butter on your baked potato, but when you get it, there is a thick dollop of the artery blocker perched right on top of the potato.  Now that is a reason to start flipping over tables.  Ok, I’m kidding (not really).

I will put my facetiousness to the side and get back to really addressing anger.  I am not saying that it is a bad thing.  In fact, anger is an important emotion that lets us know we have been harmed in some way and need to be healed.    But keep in mind that anger is typically a secondary emotion used as a defense mechanism when you cannot handle or understand your feelings.  If you are easily angered, take some time to sit down with someone who you trust, respect and can be objective so that you can sort through your feelings.  This does not have to be a drawn out therapy session.  The goal is to practice identifying your true feelings, which will, in turn, help you make choices from a place of pure love.

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Love Is Not…Demanding or Self-Seeking

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-5

It was nearly a year before I realized that I had ignored a critical section of the scripture reference above: Love does not demand its own way.  Was it a mere oversight?  I think not.  I think my eyes intentionally glossed over this part of the scripture because it is my biggest area of weakness.  Let me start off with a story that my mother loves to tell to substantiate my capacity for over the top demands.

At the tender age of two I took one glance at the sand in the play pit, decided it was dirty and outright refused to walk in it.  The problem was that the slide, which I had deemed to be acceptable, was in the middle of the play pit.  I was so demanding that my father carried me up the slide and then raced around to the front before I made my way down so I would not touch the dirt.  I had my role (princess) and he had his (princess defender).

While I doubt I am still as big a brat as I was back then, it was not too long ago that I genuinely believed the world and those who directly impacted my life were supposed to act a certain way.  And by certain way I meant the way I deemed most fitting (Man this sounds even worse when I put it in writing but I must tell the truth or there will be no growth).  My mother was supposed to drop what she was doing and pick up the phone when I needed her (yes I know I’m almost 30 years old).  My friends were supposed to be excited to see or hear from me the same way I was excited to see or hear from them.  My man had a laundry list of things he was required to do on a regular basis, which was too long and too personal to include in this book.  But I think you all get the point.

When one of these cherished loved ones failed to perform their duties as I saw fit, it bothered me.  No…it pained me.  My psychological response ranged from sadness, to disappointment, to boiling rage.  For example, if my friend did not make it a priority to spend time with me, my spirit would be pained with feelings of sadness.  Being sad was not a bad thing.  The issue was that I was focused solely on myself and my demands for attention.  Maybe she was busy.  Or maybe she just did not want to talk.  Regardless, I had to learn that I was not the center of every action my friends and family took.   Ok there…I said it.   God…thank you for helping me to believe it – eventually.

Love is selfless and expects nothing in return.  Anytime you expect something in return you are doing it out of fear and not love.  Love allows you to freely give of yourself because you know that God has already given you everything you need.

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Love Is Not…Proud

Boastfulness and pride are two sides of the same coin you flip to convince yourself you are worth something.  On either side lies a false existence.  With boasting you decrease the value of others.  With pride you increase the value of yourself.  When you walk in pride, it is like stepping into that house full of mirrors you find at the state fair.  When you look forward, backward and to each side – all you can see is you.  And you get so wrapped up in yourself you do not realize you are stuck in a maze with one true path (cough, cough – love – cough, cough) and about fifty dead ends of delusion.    Our pride can lead us so off course that we forget who we are and what we really want out of life.  Even worse, it can poison a beautiful relationship faster than anything else.

  • The cheating spouse – pride
  • The friend who will not apologize – pride
  • The husband who will not admit when he has made a mistake and is too stubborn to listen to his wife when she knows she knows what she is talking about – pride

Ok, sorry.  That last one was a little personal…and maybe a bit proud in and of itself.  So I will add one more

  • The wife who knows she knows what she is talking about and instead of praying about the situation, chooses to nag her husband until an argument breaks out – PRIDE

There are endless examples of choosing pride over love.  You may maintain your pride, but you will certainly lose the moments, relationships and life you should be enjoying.

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Love is not…Boastful

There is a fine line between confidence and boastfulness.   Confidence is emotional security that exists independently of external validation.  It is a self-assurance that you are right where you need to be – saying or doing exactly what you need to say or do.  Boastfulness, on the other hand, is an emotional imbalance.  It is usually accompanied by a big, neon Look-At-Me-Being-Great sign desperately crying out for the attention of others (If you’re guilty of this, your denial should be starting in 3…2…1).

This is when the art of self-awareness becomes most critical.  Take the time to examine the roots producing your boastful thoughts, words and actions.   You really want your credit when it’s due, don’t you?  I know I do.   But if we can humbly use our talents to simply bless others, our obnoxious longing for validation will actually be fulfilled.

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Truth

“Nothing can happen – I say to you, nothing can occur – in your life which is not a precisely perfect opportunity for you to heal something, create something, or experience something that you wish to heal, create, or experience in order to be Who You Really Are.”

– Conversations With God: Book 3

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Love Is Not…Jealous

You know you are jealous when:

  1. You find it difficult to support or encourage others
  2. You are insecure
  3. You suffer from the “Me Too” syndrome and either copy or do your best to upstage the people in your life
  4. You tear down others faster than you take your next breath

The bad thing about jealousy is that it is sneaky.  It saunters up behind you and taps you on your left shoulder – only to dart away as you turn around to see what just pricked you.  The next thing you know, it is walking beside you as you approach your Honda Civic that is parked right next to the luxury SUV.  All of a sudden it starts speaking for you through backhanded compliments to your best-friend or petty gossip about the co-worker who just got your promotion.

Before you get defensive and try to justify your actions, just stop for a moment and accept that you are guilty of being jealous from time to time.  I am sure we all have been at some point so this is not about beating yourself up.  This is an opportunity to identify a potential area of emptiness in your spirit.  As you commit to filling your spirit with truth and love, you will find the strength to discard your favorite pair of emerald-shaded glasses.

Every now and again it is easy to look at other people and wonder why they have the things I think I want and deserve.  Then I think to myself “I don’t know what they had to go through to get what they have right now and I don’t want to know.”  The jealousy begins to dissipate once I begin to contemplate the myriad of life events both good and bad surrounding the person I am coveting at the moment.   Then I am left with myself again.  And myself is pretty awesome…don’t be jealous.

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Love Is…Kind

When I think of loving kindness, one word springs to the forefront of my mind: mercy.  Showing mercy can range from helping someone pay their bills to simply saying hello to a lonely person.   It can turn the ugliest situation into an opportunity for healing, peace or happiness.  Simply stated, you provide relief.  Your soul warms the soul of another and you create a divine connection regardless of how minute or grandiose the act of kindness seems to be at the time.  And it is so beautiful.

Sounds exquisite, right?  Well, it can be hard work.  It is hardest when you are in need of a little kindness yourself and no one seems to be in a giving mood that day.   But I had to remember that what I do to others, I do to myself. That is why kindness is equally extolled in a multitude of religions:

 Buddhism

“Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception.” (Gautama Buddha)

Islam

“Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished[i].” (Prophet Muhammad)

Christianity

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35)

My aversion to extending kindness became increasingly evident as I meditated on love.  It all boiled down to whether or not I felt the person on the receiving end deserved my kindness.  I believed I had been so unjustly victimized by many people that I found it difficult to give unless someone gave to me first. Not only did I find it difficult to be kind, I found it effortless to be mean most of the time – especially to someone close to me who had disappointed me.  The best example of this is the way I treated a man I once claimed to love.  Anyone who has ever been in a relationship can understand what it feels like to be disappointed by your partner.  Sometimes our issues would lead to arguments, but most of the time I used my silence to be cruel.

One day tragedy struck…and literally overnight…I found myself alone.  No family, no friends, no man – just me.   I had no one to be mean or kind to that night.  Whenever I think about it, I am reminded of how quickly things can change in our lives, yet the world keeps spinning.  Time keeps moving.  The present moment keeps turning into history.  How many of those moments were filled with kindness from one soul to another?

God made it a special point to set aside kindness as a fruit of the spirit because it makes us better human beings.  Kindness is our life line!  Think about a time when you were desperate.  No one owed you anything.  But someone was kind to you when you needed it the most and as a result, you survived.  Do not hesitate to harness the power of kindness and pay it forward.  It is probably the best boomerang you will ever throw.

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