Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I have a funny notion about love; I think love feels good. I imagine love to fill me and to overwhelm me. I carve love into feelings like happiness and closeness and intimacy and ecstasy. I paint an image of love that is only positive all the time. My nature defines love thus. The media reinforces love thus. My friends describe love thus. I know love because love feels good.

I have said repeatedly that love is not a feeling but a behavior. I know in my head that love has more to do with how I treat people than it does with how I feel about people. I’m the guy who teaches others to ignore the world’s concept of love and to replace it with God’s words about love. So why is it that I so readily desire to define love by how it makes me feel? There is still this deeply held belief that if I love correctly, if I love well, if I love God’s way, then I will feel good.

The truth is that nothing wounds me more deeply than love.

Love always protects. Protecting people hurts. Protecting people from myself hurts. Protecting people from themselves hurts. And sometimes the people whom I am protecting never thank me, never reward me, never even notice the scars I have from taking the blows meant for them.

Love always trusts. Giving people the opportunity to rebuild the trust they’ve shattered makes me very vulnerable. Making myself vulnerable hurts. Mustering the courage to trust again hurts. Opening myself up to more disappointment hurts. And sometimes the people who ask me to trust them never notice that I am utterly depleted and their simple request is more than they deserve.

Love always hopes. Hope is believing in good for the future. Believing in good is nearly impossible when the past has been so disappointing. How do I hope after I’ve been hurt? How do I envision a good future when the present is pain? Sometimes the people for whom I am to hope have given me no reason for hope whatsoever.

Love always perseveres. When I’m drained and there’s been such pain and I can’t see good for the future the last thing I want to do is to keep going. I want to quit. I want a do-over. The very idea of going back for more makes me shutter. Sometimes people are so broken that I persevere only for the opportunity to be hurt again.

Love never fails. When my love expects to feel good it will fail. When my love longs to be appreciated it will fail. When my love is based on this world’s definition it will fail. God loves without fail and he’s transforming me into a lover that does not fail. In order to accomplish this I must jettison the notion that love feels good, for nothing wounds more deeply than true love.