Last month, I observed that sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’ll continue in that vein by adding that other times, it’s possible to be too certain of what you do know.
When I was in second grade, our Valentine’s Day assignment was to make a construction paper heart and to write on it, in our own words, our answer to the question, “What is love?”
I wouldn’t call myself an especially linear-thinker, though I am and always have been a “color-inside-the-lines” type of girl. At age seven-going-on-eight, I must have been at a literal-minded stage of development, because when they asked me, “What is love?” I knew immediately what I would write on my construction paper heart.
It was a simple question with a straightforward answer. We learned all about it in Sunday School. We even had a little song we sang, based on 1 John 4:7-8.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” -1 John 4:7-8 (NKJV and so throughout)
Did you get that? “God is love.” Check.
On my heart, I wrote, “Love is God because God is love.” (I cannot say with any certainty that I spelled because correctly, though.)
This is a funny thing to admit, but I remember, all these years later, the puffed-up feeling of knowing the “right” answer. And let me be clear–I still think I was right, but not entirely.
I turned in my assignment with the rest of the class, and as often happens with construction paper things, they were posted on a bulletin board for all the school to peruse on their way to and from lunch, gym, and music class.
I don’t remember how most of the other kids answered “What is love?” There’s only one that made an impact on me, in fact.
Another little girl in my class had written, “Love is having a mother.”
I heard it whispered that hers had died.
I had (and still have) my wonderful mom in my life. However, with my introduction to empathy, having the right answer paled in importance.
It would be many years before this set of Bible verses on love would be “written on my heart,” but now that it is, let me share it:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” -1 Corinthians 13:1-2
Right answers don’t have near the weight I’ve often assigned to them, and love–God’s love, the kind that manifests in us as loving action toward one another–has far more than I have the power to describe or even understand.
Had I continued reading as a second-grader, some big words probably would have tripped me up. As an adult now, however, I can put away childish things and know that…
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” -1 John 4:9-11
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“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” -1 John 4:11 [Tweet this]