13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
This passage has followed me throughout my life. I sang a song with my high school voice teacher to which these were the lyrics. I later went on to use that song for many church auditions and gigs in the future. It has become more relevant to me lately, and has gained great meaning.
In my search for mental health I have become very mental. The brain is a brilliant tool. It is a worker, a machine which can be chemically balanced and trained to do all the most incredible things. The mind is somehow attached to this. In exploring my mind, and my psyche, I thought I was diving into myself, but all I was doing was using my brain to gain knowledge about myself and the world round me.
This wasn’t a totally bad way to go, because I have found so much in that knowledge. However, it does not bring me peace of mind to know the things I’ve grown to know. It does not bring me ease of heart to have faith in the things I’ve found faith in. Hope does not spark my willpower into motivated action as it should.
Often my mind is the thing which brings me dis-ease. I can go on thinking my way into kindness and great joy, and just as easily my mind will keep turning and take that joy down another path. The wonderful thing about the mind is its ability to pick things up. The horrible thing about the mind is its ability to pick bad things up. Unfortunately, my mind’s habits are patterns are destructive in a lot of ways. So the joy I find in my mind cannot be so easily kept by my mind, as it does not like to stay in one place. My mind is not satisfied with joy, it is satisfied with tasks.
Love, however, love is different than the knowledge my mind can whirl into endless circles.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Knowledge alone is not enough. Love is what takes the loops of the mind and allows them to break free. Love is what frees us from the world, from ourselves, from abuses, from the intolerable. Love is so much more than thinking, and often difficult to find for those of us used to exercising intellect but not feelings. Love is all about feelings, and allowing them.
Love suffers long, also written as “Love is patient”. We often need to be patient with ourselves and others because we are all at different places in life and dealing with different adversities. It is important that we allow others to go through their own adversity without our judgement. Patience is something our minds are not good at, as the mind and brain really love working and patience tells them to quiet and wait. Being patient with ourselves and others is a kindness. Allowing people to be as they are currently and loving them anyway is a kindness.
Kindness is love in action.
“Love does not envy” because envy is a thing of the mind. Envy is usually motivated by fear of unworthiness or lack of belief in the Self which leads the mind to making comparisons. Love does not know envy because love is unconditional and therefore does not know unworthiness. Love has no need to fear, judge or compare.”Love does not parade itself” because it has no ego and does not need to be “puffed up” to be worthy of itself. Love is always worthy, and we are always worthy of love.
Love “does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked” because those are defensive reactions of the mind. Rudeness denotes a lack of understanding and kindness. It shows a lack of patience, because rude things can be avoided through a moment of patience, reflection and empathy. Seeking one’s own is work of the ego, as it denotes separateness and a sense of self. This isn’t necessarily bad for living in our world, as self preservation is vital for survival, but it is not vital for the survival of love. Love does not know separateness, for we are all one in Love. Love thinks no evil because evil is a matter of misusing a tool. The primary difference between good and evil is intention. The mind is a tool, but love is not a tool. It cannot be used for evil because love which is used for evil is no longer love. Evil is a condition. Love is unconditional.
Love “rejoices in the truth” whether or not the mind finds that truth pleasing, because truth is acceptance and acceptance is the key that opens the door to feeling. Feeling is the key to freedom.
Finally, Love bears all things. All of the burdens of the world, all of the terrible things we see and suffer, all of the pain and hurt and anger and violence is too much for the mind, but with Love, we can manage those things and work for a meaningful and lasting solution. Love knows how to let us move forward and exist day to day, in spite of the incomprehensible terrors of our world, because love can handle those things which the mind cannot comprehend. Love can endure those things because love encourages the flicker of hope, allowing all to endure to hardships we could not possibly otherwise deal with.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
Where the mind will fall victim to fallacies and defenses, Love will not and cannot. Where the mind will constantly seem more and never quite find satisfaction at the bottom of a rabbit hole, Love gives us peace and allows us to rest in faith and hope. No matter what is said, what is thought, what is believed, it means nothing and will let you down without love. Love, however, will not fall victim to fallacy or the constant need of the head to be fed with more and more information. Love will never fail.
One conclusion I’ve found in all of my mental work, research, and thinking, has been that all rules have an exception, including that one. The exception to that is Love. There are no exceptions to love. Love is unconditional. Love is the energy that motivates life to always find a way and a means of continuing. Love is what motivates us to hold on to hope. Love is what motivates us to find comfort in faith. Love gets us through the intolerable moments our minds cannot face. Without love, we can have all of the wealth and knowledge in the world, but we will still be poor.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
When things get difficult, allow yourself to feel. Go through the emotions of your mind, but do not let your mind run away with the story of those emotions. Often in the depths of the mind’s confusion, the heart is deeply saddened by a lack of love. Anxiety is in the mind, but the heart feels something else. It feels ignored, malnourished and empty. The mind has starved it of love and it is not at peace. Love cannot be thought. It must be felt. When your anxiety heightens and your mind runs wild, sink into your heart and allow yourself to experience the wave of emotions that are buried there. For underneath that is a saddened and sick heart which is in need of your Love.
I cannot think myself into love. I cannot think myself out of hate. I must feel it. I must find love through feeling. Unfortunately, my capacity to allow love into my heart has been limited by life experiences and the hurt of others being projected onto me. As I travel inward to my heart space, I have to go through a multitude of unacknowledged emotions such as raging anger, dilapidating shame, guilt, grief and deep sadness. Though many people in my life show me their love unconditionally, I must admit that at this point I only truly know what love isn’t. I lack trust and therefore do not allow many people into my heart. However, I think as I travel through these feelings that burden my heart, as I allow myself to feel them and I forgive myself for them, I am learning to love. Little by little, I am learning unconditional love by first accepting my own heart and allowing forgiveness and love to lift the weight of grief. I am learning. That is all I can ask of myself at this point, and for that, I am grateful for the patience, forgiveness and acceptance of unconditional Love.