If you’ve ever been to a Christian wedding, you may have heard the reading from 1 Corinthians 13:4-13.* Real love IS perfect. The ability of humans to practice it, however, is a bit flawed. Stay in any relationship long enough and you’ll find out that egos, insecurities, selfishness and a host of other human impairments get in the way. Like a well-worn favorite chair, what once was fashionable and new can seem a threadbare eyesore. The loveseat in this painting belonged to my grandparents who lived to be 99 and 101 years of age, and were married almost 70 years. By the end of their lives, it looked to be at the end of its as well. The upholstery was tattered, the stuffing was thinner than my grandfather’s favorite extra-crispy bacon, and one leg was threatening to break off. But when I think of it, I remember all the family holidays, sitting with my cousins and sisters on the couch. I remember my grandma reading me stories on it, and then holding my daughter 30 years later while we took our 4-generation-of-women picture. And like their marriage, its bumps and scrapes marked cherished memories, it’s faded cloth told stories of love and support. When I remember the loveseat, I am reminded of enduring love. Their love was as perfect as it gets. Perfect in its imperfections.
*Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails. Prophecies will cease, tongues will be silent, knowledge will pass away. Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect. When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I used to talk like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a (wo)man I put childish ways aside. Now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. My knowledge is imperfect now; then I shall know even as I am known. There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of theses is love.