Lately I’ve been taking more walks, the kind where I put on shoes and go outside and refuse to respond to the ping. It takes more work than it should, at least for me, to release an hour of productivity and replace it with something unknown.
Will I feel refreshed after? Will it really clear my head? Will I regret this wasted time later?
These questions are always a good sign that narcissistic Emily is threatening a mutiny and it’s time to get into the woods and be small again.
I generally go empty-handed, although sometimes I tuck my phone between my skin and the elastic waist of my yoga pants so I can monitor how long I’ve been walking and how far I’ve gone. My measuring ways are hard to overcome. And so is my lack of cool technology and arm bands and tiny, invisible iPods.
But on a recent walk, I took nothing with me and within minutes began to think on things above rather than the things on the earth, thinking about love, about what it really is. And as any believer thinking about love might be apt to do, I began to mumble the verses from 1 Corinthians 13, relevant in an obvious sort of way. I didn’t have my Bible or my phone, so I had to rely on memory to consider what this passage said about love.
And I whispered the verses to the rhythm of my footsteps, Love is patient, love is kind.
Love sits with.
As I continued, I was prepared to recite a list of all the adjectives describing what love is, but instead I heard the words as if for the first time. In the entire chapter about love, it only provides two words for what love is—patient and kind. Aside from those two words, everything else in those verses is either what love isn’t, what love doesn’t do or what love does.
Love isn’t jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Love isn’t a jerk.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love moves toward.
And finally, as I rounded the corner near the wooden walking bridge, I began to whisper the three words that describe what love never does.
Love never fails.
The words brought tears, partly because I know they’re true and partly because I don’t always see the evidence of their truth in the world. What does it mean that love never fails in light of the pain around the world—Ferguson, Syria, West Africa, our own hearts?