Cher asked the question, "Do You Believe in Love?", The Loving Spoonful asked, "Do You Believe in Magic?" A better question is, "Do You Love Enough to Believe?"
I made a lot of mistakes as a child. I am remarkably absent minded and frequently failed in the simplest of tasks. I was (and am) easily distracted and often only made it halfway through a chore before moving on. Some parents might have laughed and thought it was cute. Not mine. To my parents my failure to successfully complete a task was a sign of disrespect that deserved punishment. I was in trouble a lot. Because my attitude was always under attack I struggled with self esteem issues.
I accepted much of my parent's assessment of my ineptitude and as a result I had did not deal with failure well at all. Every roadblock, every speed bump, was not something to be overcome but instead was a verification that I should not have tried in the first place. I think this is the reason that in my high school years I tried out for many teams but quit when I did not achieve early success. There was no one around to tell me, "It's okay, you can do it!"
This self doubt had a profound impact on my academic and career goals as well. Every grade that was not an "A" was a failure, a sign that I was not good enough to truly succeed. For this reason a career as a doctor did not even seem possible to me. To be a doctor you had to be REALLY smart, and I knew I wasn't.
My attitude began to change in my first full year of community college. I was taking a course in human anatomy and there was a lab every week. There was a quiz or a test every lab session, and there were several weeks in a row in which I achieved a perfect score. About halfway through the stretch the professor began to take an interest in me. Each week he would walk up and casually say, "You going to go to med school?"
"I can't go to med school," I replied
"You should go to med school," was his weekly response. By the end of the course I was asking myself, "Should I go to med school?" His belief in me made me begin to believe in myself.
I am certain I would never have pursued medicine if it were not for something else that happened that semester. That was the semester I met Lisa. Lisa not only loved me, she believed in me. She believed in my character and in my heart, and did not allow any mistakes or slip ups to alter her confidence in me. He love and her belief helped me overcome my fear of failure and pursue loftier goals.
This is what love does. The Apostle Paul wrote that "Love believes all things." The Greek word translated "belief" means to "have faith in", to "trust". This is what love does, it looks beyond the externals and into the heart, believing that the person has a heart and has value.
Paul wrote his words to a church, instructing them that they were to love one another in this way. It is as if he was telling them, "People are knuckleheads and they will do some seemingly dumb stuff, and will even hurt you at times. Trust their intentions, believe in the desire of their heart to do right. This is what love does."
This is a wonderful way to respond to others but it is not easy. People we care about will hurt us and let us down. If we say we love them, we will need to believe in them.
This is the 11th post in a series on love based on 1 Corinthians 13. If these posts have been helpful in any way, please share them with a friend. (It isn't hard, all you have to do is click a mouse!) As a reminder, remember you can have all posts delivered to your inbox by subscribing to the blog, which is also just a mouse click away!