“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
Our Labrador has interacted with people of all ages her entire life. It’s her interaction with children that always gives me pause to watch, wonder, and learn.
From the moment Adi arrived in our home as a wee puppy she was surrounded by children. First by our own two girls, then their friends and cousins, and finally their soccer teammates and all the siblings that line the sidelines. She quickly learned that children bring with them
Cuddles and kisses
Pets and praise
Sticky faces and fingers to lick
Running and racing
Fun and games
Adi has also experienced the accidental tromps of the paw, tugs of the ear, and mishandled leashes that come with their youthful eagerness. Time and again she chooses to ignore these offenses, for she senses in the children who approach her the desire to love and receive love. She also overlooks these momentary discomforts because she seems to innately understand that there is more to their story.
Like the child who’s had little interaction with animals and proceeded to pet her by rubbing her fur the wrong way.
Or the under-the-weather preschooler who used her body as a pillowed place to rest.
Or the toddler who lost his balance and grabbed onto the scruff of her neck as a means of steadying his steps.
Or the school aged boy whose limitations in life rob him of his ability to speak so he greeted her with loud squeals while firmly patting her head.
Adi’s gentle, longsuffering nature exemplifies the type of love I want coursing through my heart and mind as I interact with the people in my life. The kind that focuses on the good in each person. The kind that is described in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6:
"Love suffers long and is kind Love does not envy Love does not parade itself, Is not puffed up; Does not behave rudely Does not seek its own, Is not provoked, Thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth."
Fun and games.
On my own, I cannot manifest this kind of love. Rather it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that grows in me as I abide in Jesus (John 15; Galatians 5:22). It is the kind of love that bubbles forth with the prayer, “Jesus help me love this person” when their words of misunderstanding tug my ears, their opinion rubs me the wrong way, their indifference tromps my toes . . .
From watching Adi, I’ve also learned that love suffers long because it understands that it doesn’t know the whole story. My human perspective is two dimensional, but God’s perspective is three dimensional. He knows the whole story from every angle and from every point in time. Therefore, if the Lord places me in a person’s life and keeps me there then my love needs to
“Bear all things
Believe all things
Hope all things
Endure all things.”1 Corinthians 13:7
In a culture that allows us to cancel relationships at a click of a button or swipe of a finger, the need for longsuffering love is greater than ever.
© 2019-2023, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan. All Rights Reserved.