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  • Writer's picturethewelltherapy

Is it Love or Anti-Love?

Live long enough with other humans, and you’re likely to experience the pain of a relationship that does not feel loving. Relationships stop feeling loving when anti-loving words or actions become habitual. #love #anti-love #fights #relationships

Heck, if we are honest, some of us don’t even know what real love – perfect love – should look, sound, or act like. (I'm sorry if this is you.) And truthfully, we as humans are incapable of delivering perfect love without occasional hiccups and outright failures. It’s true. #perfectlove

Here’s a checklist from the 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (ESV) of what perfect love is:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

Let’s take it verse by verse.

Love is patient and kind – love waits its turn to speak, listens well, uses gentle words, believes the best, and gives the benefit of the doubt (in the absence of evidence or facts indicating otherwise).

Love does not envy or boast, nor is it proud – love comes in humble; love seeks to understand the other’s position and feelings. Love is not bragging about own superior contributions; it is not jealous or comparing to anyone else’s relationship. Love, in its humility, sees own failings and seeks forgiveness and makes earnest efforts to change thoughts, words and behaviors that do not align with love’s standards.

Love does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs – Love does not name-call; love honors others. Love seeks to please the other. Love does not threaten divorce. Love does not get all puffed up with pride and try to make itself look better or right in the face of an argument. Love does not get angry easily – sometimes anger is righteous and justified, but it should not be the go-to for love. Love does not pull out every past wrong in the middle of an argument and sling it like dung.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth – love does not physically, emotionally, or verbally berate or abuse. Love seeks the truth and soars when God-instilled identity (Imago Dei) is affirmed; love can be restored when truths are revealed – there can be no real love living amid lies, deceit, and gaslighting.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Someone who loves you will always protect you, always trust you, always hope for you, always preserve your relationship above all else. Likewise, if you love someone, you will be the same toward them. True, perfect love never fails.

This is God’s love that we seek to emulate with imperfect results. And because we humans do love with such frailty, forgiveness and reform are needed to repair relationships when we make relational blunders or when others harm us. We must become self-aware and self-reflective and honest enough to admit when we’ve done wrong and make the repair efforts. We must forgive others when they’ve wronged us. It’s a mandate, not optional. Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV), “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Forgiveness and love are not the same as maintaining proximity, though. When hurtful words and behaviors are habitual – when the repair efforts are followed by the same cycle of anti-love words, behavior, and cruelty – it may be time to seek help evaluating the relationship with a neutral party or to seek counseling to obtain external help and safety. It is not and has never been God’s desire for one of His beloved to remain in relationship that is emotionally or physically abusive or unsafe. Sometimes these relationships can be repaired, sometimes they cannot. When they cannot, forgiveness and love are best practiced from a distance. #safety #abuse #forgiveness #repair

Whether it’s friends, partner, spouse, kids, or parents, we have all received, experienced, and doled out anti-love. Tragically, some of us have been taught that anti-love is love.

We are each responsible for our own behavior, and are responsible to evaluate ourselves, and take action to grow in emotional, spiritual, and relational health. Galatians 6:4-5 (NLT), “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.”

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