I took a poetry class in college that was a crossover graduate/undergraduate class. One of the graduate students came in with the tiniest poem one day, and we were supposed to workshop it. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember the poem. It went like this:
Please bury me
In this hole.*
There may or may not have been more to this poem, but that part always stuck with me. We conversed the entire class about how even though the title of the poem was “Love,” the rest of the poem was anything but loving.
And a couple of days ago (yes, apparently that poem had a huge affect on me), that got me thinking about Love as a concept. We expect Love to be something we feel, and often it is. Falling in love, loving my coffee, I love this weather, Love of my Life, Can you feel the love tonight?, I love you Mommy, I love you more.
But Love isn’t always a feeling to me. Sometimes I just can’t muster up the tenderness that we associate with motherhood. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I really, really can. But sometimes….like when I’m being spit up on while one kid calls for help from the stinky bathroom and another starts screaming about being alone? I can’t really feel it in that moment. Or when I’m trying so hard to just get dinner on the table and I’m being followed by the whine crew and fit throwers? Nope. How about when the kids conveniently forget how to obey? Hmmm, not those times either.
This brings me exactly to where the poem left me. Love wasn’t feeling anything. Love was asked to do something. It reminds me of that verse in 1 Peter, which says, “love covers a multitude of sin.” In the back of my mind, I used to kind of imagine that verse meaning that if I love someone enough, that feeling of love would always “cover” the bumps in our relationship, like laying a blanket over a fire. Everything would be ok because, hey, we love each other.
Oh, little naivete, how sweet.
No, my friends. This verse isn’t talking about sweet feelings of Love, just like that poem wasn’t. This verse means that Love actually does. And what’s the action? Love covers.
I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean Love glosses over a sin and makes everything ok. It doesn’t mean that Love ignores the wrong and covers up a problem. It doesn’t mean that Love puts up with an ongoing sin because it’s trying to hide the fact that there’s an issue. It definitely doesn’t mean Love is passive aggressive.
It does mean that Love, contrary to being a sweet feeling, is an active participant in a relationship. It actively seeks to forgive.
It means that Love closes the record book and wipes the scorecard clean.
It means that Love pursues peace and restoration of relationship.
It means that Love hopes and believes over again.
It means that Love is patient and kind in her patience.
It means that Love speaks out of humility.
It means that Love chooses to not be selfish.
Much like when we put our kids to bed, pulling up the covers to tuck them in and kissing them goodnight, Love decidedly looks our relationships in the eye and declares its steadfastness. Love covers because its nature is tenacious, fighting for the good of our relationships. Love covers because its nature is tenderness, gathering us back to restoration.
Sometimes I don’t feel a river of love flowing out of me. But that’s ok because that’s not the depths of what Love is. Love is an action, and when we act rightly toward our kids in the middle of their temper tantrums, we allow Love to cover their sin. When we act rightly in the middle of the argument with our husbands or wives, we allow Love to cover their sin. And when they act rightly toward us, they allow Love to cover ours.
So next time our children throw themselves on the floor screaming or say something that hurts our hearts so bad it stings, let’s actively turn from our knee-jerk reaction and act rightly toward them.
Let’s remember. Love Covers.
*I honestly don’t remember the name of the student who wrote this poem, but if you know her, by the most random chance in the world, please tell me so I can credit her properly!