The Bible verse “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) has been a long time favorite of mine because it sets out so clearly what is important for you to practice in your life. Specifically, much of this comes down to the last thing mentioned: bearing with one another in love.
Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to do this in your own life. The idea that love involves a fair amount of “bearing” is hard to hear and even harder to put into practice. Any annoyance or fight can be enough to make you want to retaliate and ignore the fact that you’ve chosen to love a person and focus instead on how best to get back at them. True and perfect love, however, is dependent upon our ability to bear with one another in ways big and small. It means curbing your anger and opting for open communication rather than a fight. It means sacrificing for the people you love, even when you’re giving up something major. It means knowing, understanding, and accepting that your loved ones, friends and acquaintances are going to fail you. They aren’t always going to get it right, but neither are you.
Bearing with one another is crucial because love can’t exist without it. Whether you look at how you need to bear with people in your personal life or on a global scale, it is essential to maintaining a love-centered life. I think this is especially important when you consider how much of vitriol we encounter every time we watch the news or scroll through our Twitter feed. We are bombarded with death and destruction almost daily, and it is important that we watch, listen and learn from these things. We need to understand the problems at the root of these issues, and we need to take time to pay attention to voices that are often drowned out. We need to realize that the radicalization of a movement is not a reflection of the movement itself and that one person's bad decision doesn't condemn anyone else. All these things must be done in love. We have to bear with each other, even when it is difficult. We only perpetuate our problems when the thing we contribute to the cycle of hate is more hate.
We are lacking in love in a serious way. We need to find ways to disagree with each other while bearing with one another. You aren’t being humble or gentle or patient when you disregard experiences that are separate from your own. You aren’t loving your neighbor as yourself when you fight fire with fire. You aren’t bearing with one another in love when the only thing you seem to be capable of spreading is hate. Instead of reacting in this way, we should strive to value different perspectives and educate each other in place of arguing.
It is important for us all to choose love as often as we can. This may seem like a difficult task, but give it a shot for a month. You may be surprised to learn that by bearing with each other in love, you'll have a lot less weight to bear in your heart.