October 16, 2020
And quite frankly, depending on the day, the answer might be a resounding ‘no.’
Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not easily angry and keeps no record of past mistakes. You may be familiar with this paraphrased Biblical scripture in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, NIV.
Just the other day, my loving partner of two years, visited my home after work. He’d worked nearly 10 hours and decided to come over and cut my front yard. Just as the sun was close to setting.
It was a sweet gesture and act of service, one of my top love languages.
I peered out of my kitchen window and watched him swiftly walk back and forth, criss-crossing his tracks to ensure that every blade of grass was in order. He knows me well, recognizing that the tiniest uneven patch might just send me into a tailspin. So it is along the grief journey – unpredictable, emotion-laden, and intermittently intense.
As the clock approached 7:00pm, I wondered when he might finish. For the past hour, I’d worked hard to make dinner for the two of us – grilled salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, and steamed asparagus.
I found myself watching the clock, obsessing over the place settings in the dining room, and observing him engaged in what seemed to be a never-ending task. What I’d originally seen as hurried effort, I now perceived as lazy strolling throughout the yard.
Hurry up, my mind began to complain. Don’t you care about my effort to make dinner?
And as each minute passed by, I grew increasingly frustrated, ready to abandon the entire dinner. Clearly, it didn’t matter to him!
By the time he finished the yard and came inside, I was sitting in the dining room sulking like a toddler. And I shared some pretty unkind words with him, blaming him for ruining what could’ve been a perfectly delightful evening.
Friends, this was a classic stress response.
See, stress creates a chain of events in our bodies that can affect how we perceive situations. Psychology Today defines ‘stress’ as ” … the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body’s response to it … ” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/stress).
How do you love when experiencing stress?
Clearly, I perceived pressure in that moment and unfortunately acted it out in raw fashion. The pressure of time racing with no end in sight. The pressure associated with not eating at just the right time. Oh, the pressure!
What I hadn’t considered on any level was the impact of my day. My week. The entirety of 2020. An ever-changing year. COVID-19. My dad’s death. Community death. Social, racial, and political upheaval. Work demands. Venturing out on my own in business. Insomnia.
Love was not patient that day. Or kind. Not only was it easily angered, but it was also self-righteous and unapologetic in its actions.
If I could return to that moment in time, here’s what I might do differently.
Consider the ways you might love well in the midst of stress.
Friends, love is beautiful and complex on any ordinary day. And when stress is added to its complexities, loving well is quite a challenge.
I hope you’re able to glean from my recent missteps, as well as consider how you might mid-course correct so you’re loving well in the midst of stress.
Love is patient. Love is kind. It is not easily angry and keeps no record of past mistakes.
Doing your part to manage personal stress goes a long way in cultivating the love you desire and need.
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