“I think that possibly, maybe, I’ve fallen for you…” As the song played in the background of the quaint Italian coffee shop, people ordered their café lattes and pastries, walking mindlessly past the young couple. To the passersby, they were two regular people having coffee — nothing noteworthy. That’s a fair judgment, though, seeing as how they felt the same way.
“No one understands me quite like you do…” The song kept on, as though hand-picked for the scene, fitting perfectly as they sipped their lattes and let their eyes do all the talking. The only words that seemed to fit were occasional compliments about facial features they enjoyed about each other, and, when curiosity really got the best of them they’d ask, “What are you thinking of?”
And so it went, all summer long — days filled with laughter and conversations about dreams, inspirations, love and poetry. The coffee shop became a tree house of sorts, where, like love-stricken teenagers, they shared secrets, prolonged stares and pastries. She often thought to herself how curious it was that her heart did back flips whenever he was around and hoped he couldn’t hear the irregular pounding in her chest. She could see it in him, though. His breathing noticeably accelerated, his face was flush and his cheek would quiver should he try to speak.
By midsummer they were inseparable. Friends would try to caution them about “guarding your heart” (Proverbs 4:23), and about how the “heart was deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9), but this was all too good, the feeling was too amazing, too real to be anything but soul mate material! This, they thought, is what dreams are made of, what true love is! It was this numbing feeling that completely envelopes and consumes you to the point where nothing else matters, except the two of you…right?
Who wouldn’t think that’s what love is, given what most of us are taught? We’re taught (ladies, in particular) that if an experience with another person clears the following checklist, it must in fact be “true love”: Butterflies in your stomach? Check. Can’t eat, sleep or function like a normal person? Check. IQ point drop? Check. Willingness to do anything for the other person, even if it’s something totally out of character? Check. C’mon, seriously? How many flags went out on that play? The only thing that list should be telling you is to slow your roll!
In 1 Corinthians 13, the first characteristic of love is that it is patient. That is an interesting first description. Where relationships are concerned, this is God’s way of not only telling us to be even-tempered, but also that love takes time. It takes patience to foster it and allow it to grow healthily. It takes time to get to know someone, to understand what they like or dislike, to see their reactions outside of their comfort zone, to know what they’re like with family and friends etc. People often put on masks and pretend to be something they’re not for varying reasons, so heed the warning and “guard your heart!”
Love may very well begin with warm and fuzzy feelings, but it is not sustained by them.
The chapter goes on to say that “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (v.7). This is important because relationships aren’t always poetic encounters in coffee shops. There will be difficult times and you need to know that whoever you’re with won’t bail when the going gets tough.
Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians goes on to describe love in many other forms, none of which are the insect-infested, malnourished and sleep-deprived fool we’re taught to strive for. Let go of your preconceived notions of what you think love is. Dig deep into the love of Christ, for that is true love — sacrificial, unrelenting and incomparable. The right person is out there, and when we are diligent in seeking God above all things, everything falls into place in due time (Ecclesiastes 3:1).