A No-Fail Plan for Your New Week

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Choosing Love by Holley Gerth

I ask with a bit of hesitation in my voice, “But what do I do?” I’m in a new situation and longing for someone to tell me how to get it right. To give me turn-by-turn directions, a map and a compass. To show me how to keep from messing up.

My friend shrugs her shoulders and simply replies with a smile, “Just live with love.”

Her words echo in my mind and heart for days. And as I sit down with my art journal I turn to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. I write down all the descriptions of what love means–patience, kindness, endurance. Then I get to the last line, “Love never fails.”

It’s that one line in this well-known chapter that has always thrown me off a bit. I understand the rest of it but love never fails? Really?

So I look the verse up in other translations, hoping for clearer words. But it’s the same everywhere: Love never fails.

It’s then I realize I’ve been reading this through my perspective rather than God’s. I thought “Love never fails” meant loving would never be messy or broken or hard. But I’ve come to see“Love never fails” means this instead…

Choosing love is always a success in God’s eyes–no matter the outcome or response.

Love not an emotion. It’s a series of actions {1 Corinthians 13}. That means we can choose it even when we don’t feel it. If that seems overwhelming, take heart in this: God is love and he lives in you. He can show you what to do. He understands what every person needs. He has the words you’re searching to say. He will help you make the simplest, hardest choice today…

Just live with love. 

XOXO

Holley Gerth

p.s. Whenever I write about choosing love I always want to be clear that it doesn’t mean tolerating evil behavior such as abuse. Love actually means stopping those destructive patterns. If “love” is hurting you or someone in your life in any way then please talk with a professional counselor and get help. 

 

Comments

  1. says

    I love how you’re talking that we have a choice, Holley. If we waited for our emotions to give us the thumbs up, we could be waiting for quite awhile!

    Just one choice at a time. By His grace alone.

  2. karyn says

    O I’m so glad you added that last paragraph. I love happy. Happy Happy Happy.
    LOVE never fails us.
    JESUS will never ever fail us.
    Our greatest LOVE of all, Christ our LORD. No matter how much we mess up, HE’S got us all covered by the BLOOD of the Lamb.
    :)
    As white as snow.

  3. Beverly Chong says

    Thank you again Holley. This has enlightened a clarification in my writing for our church newsletter. I also want to thank you for the P.S. note. You see, I did consult a professional….the greatest professional, Jesus, and He took me out of that pit. God bless you for your heart for Jesus. In His love, Bev

  4. Marilyn Baker says

    Your first paragraph is almost word-for-word what I have been asking. I, too, am in a new situation, struggling with what to do now….almost to the point of paralysis. But LOVE? I can do that and be confident of the success in HIS eyes, regardless of the outcome. It is no mistake that today you should write these words and today I should read them. God’s timing is always perfect. Thank you for being a willing vessel that HE can use. You are a blessing everyday!

  5. Cheri says

    Thank you for this. Exactly what I needed to hear. I am trying to help a 15 year old and sometimes it feels futile. I will give it to the Lord, if He wants me to do this He will guide me. Please pray for me and this young girl. Thank you, Holley, for being you (by being honest and you, you have given me courage).

    Cheri

  6. says

    Hi Holley,
    This weekend we finally put an end to some abusive behavior from the woman who owns the barn in which we boarded my daughter’s pony and she trained with another riding instructor. It sounds trivial; however, we have been dealing with this woman’s tyrannical attitude and passive-aggressive behavior, as well as bullying towards my daughter from hers and another child, for about 6 years. It took quite a toll on us – one in which we felt guilty that we would take income from her and her family. We kept thinking that if we behaved in a kind and loving way then it would encourage her to do the same.( always love) Unfortunately, it never did. It actually went the opposite direction. Then recently we decided that we could leave on a positive note and move forward without being cruel ourselves. This weekend we were finally able to make the move to a barn that is better suited to my daughter’s ( and our) needs. We actually have to praise God for this whole orchestrated event because it could not have happened any better. We had been praying and waiting for guidance on this particular family issue for quite a while ( the past 3 years, actually!). In His perfect timing….and I can tell you that we couldn’t have arrived at the new barn on a better day – there was a small camp going on and she knew 2 of the girls in attendance and they welcomed her in and asked her to join in the camp that day…..my husband and I got reassurance from God that it was the best move for our daughter… love never fails…

    • says

      Wow. Good for you, Kristini! What courage and wisdom this took for you, and what a powerful lesson you modeled for your daughter.

      Boundaries are not always easy to put up, and the abuser usually won’t burst into applause when we do so, But we can say ‘no, I will not tolerate this anymore’ in ways that speak the truth with respect. And move on to find others who are healthier and more respectful for us {and our kids} to interact with.

      I love God’s timing on this …

      ;-}

      • says

        Thanks Linda! It was an emotional and topsy-turvy weekend. But as Holley wrote, love never fails. And, as you said, it helps us set and enforce good boundaries. The barn owner threatened legal action towards my daughter’s trainer because of lost business (she has no legal grounds) and our leaving. The owner was still being a bully and now she has lost an excellent trainer (who is still teaching our daughter) and good clients. We are so grateful that God was with us the whole time.

        • Helen Bugaj says

          Wonderful to hear that things worked out for you, Kristin. I’ve been through similar experiences in my life which have taught me to be stronger about setting boundaries. As Linda wrote, the bully won’t applaud your decision, but moving on to healthier relationships is worth the effort and is wonderful!! Through Christ in us, we can love people who don’t love us in return, but we don’t need to let them control our lives!

  7. Sharon Brollier says

    Thanks for the encouragement. Love never fails has been my motto for quite some time. The hard part is only caring what God thinks and as you say loving no matter the outcome or response. I can only love freely when I allow the Holy Spirit to work. I truly wish I did not care whether I am loved back or there is a positive response. Your book,You’re Already Amazing”has been a balm of encouragement.

  8. says

    Holley, thank you for being sensitive to and adding that love does not mean we should tolerate abuse. By God’s grace, love never fails, but sometimes we just have to drop the seeds and walk away, leaving the fruits in God’s hands.

    Thank you for all the love words you nurture us with, Holley. :)

  9. says

    Holley I am so glad to hear you say that you, being in a new situation, were longing for someone to tell you how to “get it right”. You have a good friend who encouraged you with simply ‘live with love’. Sometimes the really profound comes across as too simple to be of value. Kind of like God’s call to us to Be Still and Know…
    Thanks for reminding me of the actions of love versus the feelings of love.

  10. Eryn says

    A little less than a year ago I found myself in a very hard, heartbreaking situation. I had every right to be angry. But I chose to love the person as Jesus loved me, unconditionally. It was not an easy choice at first, I wanted to let them know how badly I had been hurt and I wanted them to feel the same pain. But as I began to practice love, I didn’t allow my heart to dwell on the bitterness and hatred that others said I had every right to feel, I started seeing a change in myself and my growth with God. Having chosen love the feelings of vindication were completely squelched. I have learned exactly what you said, love is not merely an emotion it is an action. It is something that must be worked at. Thank you for the amazing witness you have through your openness and vulnerability.

  11. shelly says

    I needed these words today Holley. I turn to your blog when I feel tattered or a little beat up emotionally or spiritually. You always offer such comfort. It’s a gift I am blessed to receive. Thank you.

  12. Lindia Lentz says

    Thank you Holley! I’ve been discerning a change in my life regarding a new direction in my career, and “Love never fails” has been part of my “mantra” for the past several months and will be an integral part of the new direction. So thank you and the Lord for giving me another wonderful gift of confirmation that I am following His will!

    God bless!

  13. Babs C. says

    Okay, I read this hours ago and was deeply moved. I’ve had a rather important decision sort of on hold and a situation came up last night that seems to be pressing for me to choose. Though I recognize my response, my choice, must be made in love – – I haven’t figured out what love would do in this situation!! Your voice in this post and descriptions of what you’ve done in search of an answer – I totally identify. I’ve been struggling with what Love Never Fails looks like in my situation and how to make loving choices that honor God, myself and others.

    Let me say how very, very much I deeply appreciate your post script that addresses the fact that situations involving abuse are not love, but actually evil behavior, and offers help to those in abuse. My heart breaks every time I hear a black-and-white message on Christian Love, marriage, relationships, family, divorce…etc. that does not include the acknowledgement that abuse is not to be tolerated!! Many Christian men and women and children are either shunned or shut-down and incapacitated when they try to get help from churches or other believers when they want to turn an abusive situation around, or get away from an abusive spouse. I applaud you for addressing the difference even though I desperately wish there was no need to do so!

    Well, I still don’t really know what to do in my particular situation, other than choosing to live in love. But I am going to keep walking in faith that as you said…”God is love and he lives in you. He can show you what to do. He understands what every person needs. He has the words you’re searching to say. He will help you make the simplest, hardest choice today…”

    Thank you, Holley, for all the encouragement and prayers that you so freely give in each and every one of your posts! I pray that the situation that prompted you to write today’s post is one in which you will see miracles as you also chose to live in love!

    • Cheri says

      to Babs C: I admire your comments about how the church and Christians don’t always see that there are abusive situations and then help those in them deal with it. I pray that, we, as Christians have the courage to speak up for ourselves and those who are abused and help the church to LOVE all in Christ’s love.

      • Babs C. says

        to Cheri: Thanks for your comment, Cheri. I agree with your prayer for us all to have courage and to advocate in LOVE… and I add a strong Amen!

  14. Lina says

    Thank you Holley for the post and making that most important distinction about abuse at the end. I also want to make a shout out to Babs C and commend her on commenting about the church not always knowing where to stand or how to deal with abusive situations. My first marriage was abusive and I learned many a thing the hard way BUT God still continues to use that situation for good and healing for those who are still living it.
    About a decade ago I started attending a church where I had put my daughter’s in their school. Now I was the “woman from the other side of the tracks” in that situation. I was soon to notice narrow mindedly some of the “church women” were treating a young woman who was clearly being abused at home…. It seems God had put me in that situation to shine a light on what abuse does to your mind. How you learn to believe you deserve that horrible treatment. How you cannot always “just leave” especially when there are kids involved. How the psychological part comes into play long before the physical… To make a long story short God used me (the red letter woman) to show those folks a side of the situation they had no clue about. The young woman was taken under their wings, prayed over and helped out of a very bad situation (along with her three young children) because God used my “wisdom borne of pain” to help. Thus Love in action being payed forward. Love (from God) truly does prevail in all things.

    • Helen Bugaj says

      Good to read your post, Lina, that God used your “wisdom borne of pain” to teach others how to love. Sad when churches aren’t a soft place for people to land when they’ve been in abusive situations.

    • Babs C. says

      Lina, I’m sending you a shout out response! Thank you for sharing your story and it’s resounding impact on one body of Believers. I’m so sorry that you had to go through what you did personally, and yet I praise the Lord who redeemed that hard time by using you to help not just one woman in a similar situation, but hopefully even more. Your impact on that body of Believers and the growth and compassion they experienced as result will be there for other future situations as well as the one you mentioned. Truly a Love pay forward of the never-ending, always amazing Love sort! If there are things that you lost in your own experience of becoming “the red letter woman” that have not yet been restored, I pray that you will be shown evidence of how God is at work to turn them for the good in his love, and that he will multiply the new good far beyond what was initially lost in your life! Love to you Lina!! xo

  15. says

    Thank you, Holley, for affirming: “Love is not an emotion. It’s a series of actions.” It brought to mind a relationship from years ago, with a difficult man in our church. I felt guilty that I couldn’t muster up warm, fuzzy feelings for him, no matter how hard I prayed. Sometime later I came across the same idea you’ve presented in your post. Looking back, I could remember behaving in a friendly manner toward this gentleman, in spite of my feelings. God had answered my prayer to help me love him–but it was in DEED rather than emotion. The burden of guilt was lifted! Actually, it had been false guilt, I just didn’t know it. No doubt this post will lift that same burden of false guilt for others!

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