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Virtues in Paradise: What is love?

Saturday 3 February 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Virtues in Paradise

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Virtues in Paradise: What is love?

I recently came down with the dreaded flu – part of a wave of viral illness that, along with Covid-19, is surging in many parts of the world, including here in paradise., writes Linda Kavelin-Popov.

When my husband fell ill too, it dawned on me how vulnerable we are as elders, who sometimes must rely on others to help us, even to get food.

I’ve been pondering this wake-up call. My regular support friends were either away or overwhelmed with their own lives, particularly with family coming and going at this time of year.

One day when I was a little stronger, I made it out to a shop for some basic food, but when I got home, found I didn’t have the strength to carry the groceries upstairs to our house.

This brought a couple of teachable moments. First, we need to have the humility to ask for help, and if the first person we ask is not available, reach out further.

There is plenty of caring in this community. It also occurs to me that one of the most important love languages is service in the form of helpfulness and thoughtfulness.

Let us never be too busy to pause and ask, who needs my help today?  Several friends brought food: a container of freshly made porridge still warm from the pot, another brought a hand of bananas, just about the only thing my husband could eat while he was ill.

Food and produce from the garden is such a beautiful traditional way to show love. I drank gifted nu (fresh coconut juice) – one of the most powerful electrolyte replenishments, and know it speeded my recovery.

This experience has got me thinking. What does my own ministry look like? Am I pausing long enough to ask where I’m needed today, before going off to my scheduled appointments for mental health and wellbeing? What does love look like in the community?

Let’s talk about intimate love. What keeps love alive in a marriage or a partnership? It is the virtues in the way we speak, see and treat each other. If we are growly and critical, it’s an assault on the spirit. I remember one time my husband and I were visiting family in the United States, and I had been complaining to a family member about my husband’s refusal to change his unhealthy eating habits -- a long crusade of mine.

The next morning while praying I heard an alarm go off outside. I cheekily asked God, “Lord, is there something I should be alarmed about?”

I received an immediate answer: “Yes. Every word of negativity is an act of distrust in Me.” Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. I realised that God had put the two of us together and therefore my job was not to criticise, but to accept and appreciate, not to try to be my husband’s nurse, but his loyal wife.

That was a profound teachable moment. What nurtures love and makes it flourish is the practice of gentleness, gratitude, and thoughtfulness.

Think of all the virtues mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 “Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude.”

The verses go on to say that “faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love”.

This is guidance, a directive for us, as all the teachings about virtues are. To tap into the power of love, we must give up the love of power, including trying to control our beloved’s eating habits or anything else.

Couples who have lasting joy give small kindnesses each day, do thoughtful things that make a difference. When our friends, family or neighbours have challenges, including health, let us think on these things as well, and reach out in love to each other. It makes all the difference.