[Love] isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints. – 1 Corinthians 3:5
Paradoxically, while we’ve practiced social distancing during the Covid pandemic, we’ve also practiced lessening the distance between us and the ones we love.
Children come home and stay home from school. Spouses and partners spend more time with each other within closed spaces.
It’s not surprising, then, that with this lessening of distance between loved ones, there’s been an increasing sense of irritability.
One man told me, reflecting on his experience of sheltering in place, “I’ve been married 58 years, but it was only in the last three months that I found I did so many things the wrong way.”
Similarly, a woman, while riding in a car with a friend, noticed a brown sack. “What’s in the bag?” The driver replied, “I got a bottle of wine for my husband.” The woman thought a moment then replied, “Not a bad deal.”
Yet, along with the tensions that arise from being in close quarters 24/7 comes an opportunity to enjoy the benefits from it.
When we irritate, and are irritated by, someone close to us, we are affirming that they’re important to us. Anybody can avoid irritation by keeping distance, physically or emotionally. In the process, they don’t get to deepen their knowledge and experience of the other person.
Real love results in occasional irritation. Love prods us at those times to practice some painful humility. We’re not the center of the universe, we don’t have a cornerstone on “right,” and we irritate the other person at times as well.
Hence, Paul says “love isn’t irritable.” He doesn’t mean love excludes it. Rather, love transcends it.
May irritable times result in us affirming our own mutual failings and thus our mutual need for the ones we dare love.