"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
God gave me a plan for encouraging myself and others to use the 1 Corinthians 13 model of love to strengthen one particular relationship (or in my case 5 - my relationship with my kids). I was amused by the idea as it struck me during my drive to church. I was thinking "how might I" as I sat and listened to my pastor's inspiring message. That is when I knew it was God's idea. When I realized the pastor was preaching very much on what I was planning, I knew God was behind this. God wants you to read this, and God wants me to write this. I believe God wants all of us to do this.
I've developed my own version of the "Love Dare". It really isn't intended to be taken from that movie, but the term fit so well that I decided to borrow it. I want to encourage, even dare you to walk with me over the next days and weeks. Try each of the things with an open mind and an open heart. Listen to what God is whispering to you. See if these things help, if even in some small way. I can't imagine any way in which they can hurt.
First, I want you to identify a person (persons) with whom you feel your relationship needs strengthened. I've chosen my children. It is important to identify a specific relationship to work on. In the end, I believe all your relationships will benefit, but you must focus on one. I decided to consider my children one relationship since what I am really doing is working on how I relate to them more than their individual personalities.
Let's look at what the bible says about love. It is one of the most famous passages in the bible. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Boy, that's a lot. It is too much to try at once. We are going to take this one item at a time. Today: Love is patient. There is an old saying in the christian world "Never pray for patience." What we are going to pray for today is that God will, in his infinite grace, show us what patience is, what it looks like in this particular relationship. For example, my prayer for today is "God, please grant me the grace to see and understand how I am to be patient with my children today." It may be your spouse, your coworker, your sister or your best friend. Ask God to show you today how you can demonstrate patience in that relationship. If you mess up once, don't feel like you blew it. Take the next opportunity to do it right. Keep praying.
A note, if you know your spouse has read this and is working on their relationship toward you, pray for God's guidance on how to receive. Even if you feel things are perfect, it is possible your spouse feels that he or she is not fully demonstrating the love God calls him/her to show.