If I am honest with myself, I know that much of my early feelings of love were my sex drive masquerading as romance. I expect many people if they are honest had the same experience. That is not a negative statement. Sex drive is a necessary part of life. My comment is meant to show I had a lot to learn about love. I am still learning.

My model for love – not just for my beloved Jeny – but for everyone, is the list of characteristics given in First Corinthians 13. Many had it read at their wedding. We would all do well to reread it every Valentine’s Day.

Love is:

Patient

Throughout our marriage Jeny has been regularly late. Until I learned patience, I failed in love. I have learned to see her lateness as opportunities and to wait patiently. I have learned to develop the same patience waiting for changes in the lives of others.

Kind

Kindness comes easy toward those I like and who I want to like me. I have had to learn kindness with those with whom I may disagree. These days, I fail to see much love in the political attitudes as well as culture differences. We need people to learn kind words are more loving.

Does not boast and is not proud.

Learning to accept and love one’s self is not the same as pride and boasting. I have learned the more I can accept and properly love myself, the less I need to share my accomplishments with others.

Not rude.

 I have had to learn not being rude involves understanding, accepting and appreciating the values of other cultures.

Not self-seeking

I had to learn much in this area because I often did not realize when I was seeking my own wants and needs and putting them before others.

Not easily angered

This has gotten more difficult since my stroke. Often, I find my initial reaction is a knee-jerk anger that takes learning to control.

Keeps no record of wrongs.

This one is very tough. It is right up there with love your enemies. Right up there with forgiving those who sin against you. I am still learning.

Does not delight in injustice but rejoices with the truth.

This has been easier for me. I take offense at injustice toward others. In our present climate the difficulty is that injustice is not as one sided as some would believe. That is one reason I see our social problems as the ills of the human condition and not one culture, one political party, one race or one gender. I have learned to passionately care about truth. The key for me has been to accept I can be wrong. I do not need to twist, distort or alter reality to try to create truth when I must admit I am not seeing the world correctly.

Protects

The hard lesson is that retaining control is not protection. I had to learn letting others take risks is necessary for them to achieve maturity and autonomy. The need to keep control often masquerades as protection against failure. The masquerade happens with children, with work situations and in our churches and synagogues.

Trusts

The need to control is also an important part of trust. Not wanting someone you love to have a life in addition to their time with you is a control issue. The inability to trust others to accomplish a task may be a judgment about competency but often is an issue of control.

Hopes and perseveres

People of faith should always have hope. Hope gives strength to persevere in even the toughest of situations.

Having said all this — I need to learn to love Tom Brady and the Buccaneers after they destroyed the Chiefs.

Anyone who would like to share what you have learned about love,I would be glad to hear from you.

My valentine poem for Jeny this year is a testament to my conviction that love is a learning process. A process I hope to keep developing.

For Jeny 2021:

Not a Hallmark Moment

When I think of

laundry I did not do

clothes I did not iron

dishes I did not wash

shelves I did not dust

floors I did not sweep

beds I did not make

clothes I did not mend

dinners I did not prepare

I am remorseful

Thank you

Please forgive me

When I think of the times I

put my needs and wants before yours

kept track of perceived mistakes

reacted rather than responded

ignored rather than listened

did not say thank you

did not say I’m sorry

did not forgive

was impatient

I am remorseful

Thank you

Please forgive me

When I think of

love we share for God

love we share for each other

love of family and friends

moments we touch

moments we listen

moments we connect

Our needs being met

Our home and comfort

Our journey together

I rejoice

Thank you

I love you

In addition to love for God, Jeny and family, I have a deep love for all of you. Thank you for all you have meant to us in the past and continue to be today.

Peace

Jerry

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