It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (ESV)
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (NIV)
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (KJV)
[Love] does not act unbecomingly; itdoes not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, (NASB)
Love is not easily exasperated.
This aspect of love really gets to the heart of what a mom faces day in and day out. The force of the (Greek) verb actually suggests being driven to a point of exasperation. Words like “irritable,” “touchy,” “frustrated,” come to mind.
Love in the moments of exasperation.
What are the factors that drive us to this point?
- We want our own way, but it’s not happening.
It is tempting to thrust the blame onto our children for driving us to the point of exasperation. Often the real problem, however, is that our love hasn’t been able to endure. Love of this kind has an impenetrable quality — it never reaches the point of breaking. When love exists in these moments, it is patient and it is kind.
Love is far more than moments of tenderness and gestures of affection. It is a hardy resilience that fails to blow up when things come crashing down–an inner peace that is slow to result in anger.
Love That Lasts
Love must, of course, last for the long term — years, generations, etc. But love must also stick through the short-term trying times — when every kid seems to be screaming, everything seems to be burning, everything is being destroyed, and all you want to do is join in the screaming. Love is about lasting through the day, even when your nerves say no.
It’s helpful to take a long term view of love — seeing it as a journey. But it’s also helpful to see love as a short-term project — something to be carried forward for the next two hours, or two minutes, or two seconds, or whatever it takes to get through that moment of exasperation.
Motherhood is made up of millions of points of potential exasperation. Yes, it’s tough. How in the world do we keep going? Love is the oil that keeps the engine running. It helps us to last. It’s the only way.
Love Thinks Ahead to Prevent Exasperation
Part of our responsibility to practice love that is not exasperated is to take an active role in preventing possible points of exasperation. There are practical loving things that we can and should do to avoid being tempted, as it were, to exasperation. Here are some possibilities:
- Doing your best to get enough rest
- Ensuring that your children get good food
- Maintaining some semblance of a schedule throughout the day
- Getting your kids to bed at a decent hour each night
- Anticipating and preparing for moments that might prove to be particularly exasperating. For example, if lunch preparation is typically an exasperating time, do your best to prepare your heart, give yourself enough time, and perhaps talk to the children before you begin making lunch.
- Anticipate transitions
- Provide your children with a rest time, snack time, or nap time.
- Leave pauses in the day to take a breathe and release some pressure. If a day is a go-go-go-go kind of day, with no stop, break, or release, it’s no wonder that we get exasperated. Do what you can to take a brief moments to release pressure — to pause, pray, think, or just sit.
- Sometimes it is a deep breath and moment of prayer, asking God to help us appropriate the grace He has made available to us.
Love that defies irritability.
Irritation or exasperation is one of the hardest things to hide. You know how your husband or good friend just know when you’re having a bad day. You tried so hard to hide it, but somehow, people can figure it out. Our children can figure it out, too. Even if we’re trying to hide it, it’s often easy for children to spot.
Love, in all its full-faceted 1 Corinthians 13 glory, is a love that refuses to be irritated. In other words, it’s not that we’re trying to hide our irritation. This is not a denial of emotions or a fake happy face. It’s not suppressing anger. (And anger is not wrong in and of itself! Paradoxically, repeatedly suppressing anger and denying its existence often leads to this type of irritation.) We must not just detach ourselves from our children in order that we don’t have to react ourselves. It’s that we are refusing (Or, rather, the Spirit working in us is creating this miraculous peaceful reaction) to be irritated.
It’s more than a mind trick at work here. It’s the grace-filled pursuit of a love that we can’t dish up on our own. It’s the admission that our love tank is empty, our exasperation gauge is high, and something’s about to blow. At that moment, when irritiability threatens to make a bad situation worse, love steps in and calls for peace and patience. This isn’t natural. This is only something that God can do — that God is able to do — for moms.
As moms, we face exasperating moments all the time. This little phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:5 is a powerful tidbit of explanation. But it’s more than just an explanation or definition of love. It’s a commission to love. God enables us with the love that we need — a love that is not exasperated.
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