Love and Being Nice

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Even animals have conflicts.

There’s a bible study we did on Love recently that stuck in my head and in my heart for a bit. Thanks to the amazing ‘pong piah’ (loosely means ‘exploded biscuit’ in Hokkien) for leading it.

We looked at the context of 1 Corinthians 13, the famous chapter that supposedly speaks about love, and appears to define what love is.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is slow to anger. Love perseveres. Immediate catch phrases come to mind.¬†And if there’s anything I mistakenly thought about what love means, it is to be nice.

Being too nice can a dangerous thing. In fact, it can be a dishonest thing. In a world that continues to scream ‘Make Love Not War’ even way past the hippie era when it started, conflict of any sort is frowned upon. I am tempted to live out my Christian life trying to be nice, say the right things, say the encouraging thing, be slightly firm in the wrong things but try to make it up with a whole lot of flowers, cupcakes, sugar and spice to make things all ‘good’ and ‘nice’ again. But if I just focus on having those wonderfully peaceful relationships, I’d be dishonest. Yet that being said, in times of conflict, there is a thin line to be drawn between applying tactfulness in firm loving gentleness and brash confrontations that tear the other person down.

So yes, excuse me while I learn what not trying to be nice looks like, and what loving someone means. After the study, and aided by further learning through a cool bible learning resource from the University of Notthingham (again, with thanks to the amazingpongpiah), it is apparent that Paul wasn’t trying to define love for us, but was trying to show the Corinths what they weren’t doing.

So what does love looks like then? If we’re tempted to ask that question, perhaps in practice, for me, it would be doing/saying something and desiring the other person to become more like Jesus.

The Commonality of Humanity

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I took the day off after a morning appointment at the doctor’s and just wanted some time to myself. Trying to deal with the mass of emotions that I feel, I thought a swim would help clear my head up a bit.

At the pool, while settling aside my keys, goggles and stuff, I noticed a boy much younger than me, awkwardly moving towards the pool. He was looking all around, and waving at people. I thought he waved at me. I stared back blankly. Do I know him? I had enough to deal with for the day already, without having to wonder what this guy is up to.

I turned to look around and could see no one. I could see him trying to get the attention of other people around – neighbours passing by, cleaners, road sweepers. He waved at them all.

Deciding to just mind my own business, I turned to the pool, and got started on my 20 laps. He too got into the pool and commenced his strokes.

Closing in on Lap 18, I saw the boy standing at the shallower end of the pool, and waving to the security guard. As the guard started walking over to the pool, the boy dived into the water and swam away. Seriously, I thought, this boy is getting weirder and weirder by the minute.

Then it dawned me on how much common point humanity really has. Even though different strokes work for different folks, he was really trying, in his own awkward (in my eyes) way to reach out to others, acknowledging the age-old human need for friendship, assurance and comfort from a fellow human being. Aside from God.

If a person comes to you with a need, do you tell that person you’ll pray for him/her and take no further action? If a person needs an encouraging word, a word of assurance, do you simply tell him/her to pray about his/her situation? He put us here on earth in communities because we all need God with skin on.

So he really was waving at me. Next time if I see him again, I’ll be sure to wave back.