1 Corinthians 13

protective

I didn’t realize how protective love could be until yesterday. Not once, but twice I managed to fall off the bed and hit the floor with a loud smack, and land on the same knee. Both times, I held my knee (which is sure to be battered and bruised for the next few weeks) and tried to calm myself, just focusing on breathing and not crying.

Both times, I felt big arms wrap around my body, and lips kiss my head. He asked me what hurt, looked at my knees and hands, but I just repeated “I’m okay. I promise. I’m fine.” I wanted to brush him off, because I was taught that when you get hurt, you stand up and shake it off. With him, I can be hurt, and he will be with me, and help me. He cleaned my scrapes, put a band-aid on it, and held me for a few more moments.  He held me and told me, “I’m just protective, because you are so precious to me. I love you.” And once again, the man that I love leaves me speechless.

1 Corinthians describes love as something that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Throughout our time together, he has shown me all of these qualities. The most meaningful of all of these qualities to me is perseverance. With graduation only a year away, we might be heading different places. I’m looking at law schools, but he’s looking at architecture firms.

It’s silly but I found hope in a fortune cookie. When we are visiting his hometown, we join his parents for their Sunday afternoon tradition: lunch at a Chinese buffet. We spent a few hours drinking tea and eating egg rolls and rice. I got to hear embarrassing stories from his childhood. I got to meet his grandmother. I got to see the interactions in his sweet small town. We were ready to go, and got fortune cookies with the bill. My fortune (which wasn’t really a fortune but okay) read “Anything possible if you’re committed.” I looked at him and smiled, because I know that we are committed to each other, and that we can work through anything. We persevered through the first few years of college, and all the curves it threw us. We persevered through rocky friendships, hard classes, and midterm and finals week stresses. Honestly, we can do anything together.

 

 

1 Corinthians 13

understanding

Love “does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5), and has an understanding of others. Gary Chapman, the author of The 5 Love Languages, poses the idea that there are 5 ways in which we show others love: acts of service, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and gifts.

Acts of service are actions taken to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on another person, and the kindness of this gesture speaks volumes. I know during hectic weeks like midterm and final exam weeks, laundry can pile up and dirty dishes begin filling the sink. Who has time to do anything when every minute should be devoted to studying? Small things like grabbing him a (large) cup of coffee on the way to study together makes a world of difference.

I originally scoffed at physical touch, until I realized it wasn’t a sexual touch. Physical touch is a warm hug after a long day, a back massage when your muscles are full of knots, or holding hands while walking to classes. Having that physical contact is reassuring and creates a sense of security.

Quality time is as simple as being present with him. When he tells me a story, I place my phone back in my bag and give him my full attention. The technology is put aside, and the homework or chores are placed on hold for a moment. Quality time and quality conversations are essential in this form of love.

Words of affirmation Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.

Gifts are the visual representation of love. The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort, not necessarily the gift itself. The gift shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you.

Before we decided to take the quiz together, we had each been loving each other the way we wanted to be loved. I learned that the way I show and receive love are through physical touch and words of affirmation. When I asked my boyfriend to take the test, he learned that the way he shows and receives love is through quality time and words of affirmation. While I respond well to a hug after a long day, he needs my undivided attention while he tells me about his day. Love is not insisting on its own way; we find compromises to show love to each other. I’ve learned to be more alert to his needs to quality time together, and he always wraps me into a warm hug when he sees me. I’m not insisting on my own way with this; how can I say that the way I love is more right than another way? I’ll show him love the way he receives it best, and he reciprocates that with me.

1 Corinthians 13

patience

Love is patient, but patience has never been my strongest quality. I can remember my mom telling a story about my 7th birthday. My family was at King’s Dominion to celebrate my birthday, and we had been waiting in line for a ride. My sister and I made it to the front of the line, and we were going to be the first ones to pick our seats. Even though I was in the front, I think something about waiting in a line had made me impatient. When the gate opened and it was our turn to pick seats, I sprinted to seat number 13 (even though all of the seats looked exactly the same). I fell and scraped my knee, but I simply jumped back up and claimed my prize.

In the 14 years since that birthday, I’ve learned to be more patient when I wait in line. I know how to wait my turn. I know not to sprint across the street until the crosswalk shows the walk sign (unless its extra cold outside). But have I truly learned patience? I’ve struggled in college with patience. Day to day patience seems manageable, but the real task is being patient while I wait for the future.

Being patient is hard when it comes to school. Only 5 weeks stand between me and my summer. This coming fall I’ll be a senior and I’ll only need a few more classes to finish my degree. Graduation is a mere 12 months away. I expected the anticipation and excitement of being in the “real world”, but I didn’t realize how impatient I would be. The future holds a lot of opportunities; I’m swimming in law school pamphlets, internship emails, and job applications. The unknown feels overwhelming, but I couldn’t be more excited to dive in to the business world and find my place in this big world.

In my impatience I go back to Psalm 27:14, which says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” My first reaction to times of impatience and frustration is to be strong. I always think I can power through my situation by being strong and faking it until I make it. What really pulls at my heart are the words “wait for the Lord”. That phrase should be what reassures me most. When I fully comprehend and acknowledge that God is greater than I will ever be, I can place my burdens on Him. I can surrender both the excitement and the pressure of the future, and focus on the present.

 

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simplicity

For the longest time, I avoided simplicity; it seemed negative to me. To be simple was to be  boring and incomplete, it was not be trying hard enough, it wasn’t good enough. After too many years of pushing myself to unattainable perfection and being excessively elaborate, I can now understand and appreciate the beauty of simplicity.

With Valentine’s Day drawing near, chocolate is on display and giant teddy bears and heart shaped balloons fill the stores. heart. shaped. everything. To me, love doesn’t come in heart shaped boxes of sweets, red roses, or an elaborate evening date. Love is found in the simple things. Love is knowing his coffee order, and getting it for him before an early class. Love is cherishing a quick half hour of studying together. For us, it’s as simple as that.

Academics was never a place I wanted to be “simple”. Simple, I thought, was bad and school deserved my best work. Papers became elaborate works of art, and were littered with my SAT vocabulary words. I quickly learned that filling a text with four-syllable words did not necessarily strengthen my argument. Stripping away the pretentious vocabulary words left me to face my thoughts and arguments in my paper, and prove them with sources instead of fancy words.

My allotment of time has also become more simple. Gone are the days of superficially being involved in ten clubs, three volunteer opportunities, and drowning in other extracurriculars. I’ve found two organizations at Christopher Newport that are significant to me, and I happily invest my time into them. Zeta Tau Alpha has offered me opportunities to grow as a woman, friend, and leader, and I am eternally grateful. Phi Alpha Delta has shown me my passion for the law, and has given me excitement to take on the next stage of my life – law school. By narrowing my involvements, I’ve been able to dive deeper into my passions, create meaningful relationships, and take on leadership roles that have helped me grow.

Simplicity is beautiful, and I’m happy to have it in my life. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

 

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extroversion

Four years ago I was an introvert, and I didn’t understand it. I would sit by myself during the lunch hour, listening to music and doing homework, because I needed to “recharge” from the social interactions from the morning. I “recharged” again when I got home from school. Talking to people was tiring, I was always emotionally drained, and I just didn’t understand it.

I found the Meyers Briggs test and I took it. I was an INFJ. For N, F, and J, I was just slightly over the line into a specific type. For I, I was 98%. I was a full-blown introvert, and I finally started understanding myself and my needs.

I spent time focusing on myself: staying in instead of going out with friends, listening to music, meditating, and taking up yoga.

When I got to college I joined a sorority. I still don’t understand my logic – what introvert intentionally puts herself through hundreds of women chanting at the top of their lungs,  days of small talk, and the pressures of meeting and joining a sisterhood. I don’t get it, but I’m so grateful I pushed myself through it, because I know that being a ZTA has made me a better leader, friend, and woman.

A few months ago, a friend told me that personality types change, and that I should retake the quiz. At the conclusion of the quiz the letters on the screen read ENFJ, and I was surprised. Me? An extrovert? But the more I thought about it, the more I understood, and saw my personal growth.

Going into recruitment this January, I wasn’t hesitant. I smiled and chanted at the entrance for each round. I linked arms with timid freshmen and eagerly got to know them. I shared my passion for ZTA’s philanthropy, and opened my heart with my favorite memories from this sisterhood. I faced my high school fear of talking to people, and not only did I over come it, but I enjoyed it. After each round of recruitment, I would be bouncing, jumping, dancing, and excitedly talking to other sisters around me.

Evolution and personal growth happen to everyone, but I’ve specifically noticed my increasing extroversion, and my friends have as well. I’m happy to say that the girl I was four years ago – who hated running into people, and hated talking to people – is not who I am anymore. I love people, I love interacting with them, and I love the different relationships I’ve been able to form by being more open.