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Rising in Love Part 3: Love is not rude.

Blog by Nikayla Reize

Love is patient and kind. Love isn’t jealous, boastful, or arrogant. Love isn’t rude. Love doesn’t insist on its own way, love isn’t easily angered. 

When I think of a time when I experienced “rudeness,” it was when I was in a hurry and someone else was in a hurry and we didn’t make time to slow down and pay attention and we got in each other’s way. It’s rude when someone dismisses you before hearing you out or makes an assumption about you before slowing down and testing their theory. It’s rude when someone just reacts to your existence instead of responding to your personhood. Love isn’t reactive – it’s responsive.

Love isn’t rude. It isn’t in a hurry and annoyed that you’re taking too long. Love doesn’t take the parking spot you’ve been waiting for or show up late when you have limited time. Love doesn’t ghost you. Love doesn’t dismiss you before hearing you out or look down on you because of your appearance. Love doesn’t pat you on the head or talk about you behind your back. Love doesn’t make assumptions about you. Love doesn’t just want to get down to brass tacks.

Love doesn’t insist on its own way. Love doesn’t jump ship as soon as you disagree or propose a new idea. Love doesn’t demand your loyalty or use you to forward its own brand. Love has no hidden agenda. Love doesn’t only show up when you’re obedient and then disappear when you miss the mark. Love isn’t at the top of a pyramid scheme. 

Love isn’t easily angered. It isn’t irritable or moody. Love doesn’t take it out on you. Love doesn’t slam cupboard doors because you accidentally left them open, again. Love doesn’t hang up on the phone. Love doesn’t raise its voice and love never prescribes you a taste of your own medicine. Love isn’t the wage you earn for your submissive labour. Respect isn’t the currency that purchases you love. 

What do people who are rude, self-absorbed, and easily angered have in common? We aren’t paying attention. We are in a hurry, and we are blind to the beauty and complexity of the moment we’re in. We’re living in the next moment, and we’ve tuned out everything between ourselves and the next thing on our to-do list. We are easily irritated by the way you’re getting in the way of our objectives. We aren’t paying attention. 

“…. though they have eyes, they do not see.” – Jer 5:21

Internationally recognized Family Therapist, Terry Real, and Collective Trauma Specialist, Thomas Hübl, defines intimacy as the connection formed when “I feel you feeling me.” Hübl says this is the basic building block of relational intelligence. Can we sense one another? Can we feel how our nervous systems attune to each other? This requires a fine perception, but we began learning this as part of our foundational development starting at birth.

“…. we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psa 139:14

Emotional intimacy is the connection formed when I feel you, feeling me. You feel me, feeling you. I notice, you are noticing me. Intimacy is a reciprocity of openness. It’s a shared cognition. 

This shared cognition or “neuroception” is observable in all living species with a nervous system.  It’s easier to observe in animals, because their perception of reality and their sense of connection to their environment is less muddied by busyness and pride, but essentially, the autonomic nervous system responds to features of safety or threat before we even think about it.

Have you ever noticed a herd of deer and how one deer can raise its head and simply twitch its ear a certain way and the whole herd takes off running? Without making a sound, they somehow all notice and know that the twitch of the ear signals a threat. They’re in tune with each other. Current research shows that humans are reading each other’s body language in the same way, and we most often don’t even notice that we’re doing it. When people around us are moody or shut down, we feel it in our nervous system, and we raise our defenses without noticing we’re doing it. When people around us are open and relaxed, it affects our nervous system and often causes us to relax and open. We are more connected to each other than we are capable of actively noticing. It’s how God made us – to be one body with many parts. We can shut down and live out of sync with the tools we were born with, or we can begin to … pay attention, to notice, to tune in. To notice ourselves noticing others and to notice how others notice us is to be alive to God’s waking world. 

A short interaction with a stranger where the stranger treats me rudely can impact my entire day. Without even realizing it, my body will tense up and I’ll act rudely to the people I encounter for the rest of the day. This happens when I don’t notice myself noticing others. You know what awakens me to the goodness all around me and cultivates curiosity and wonder? Someone treating me with kindness. I mean, someone really looking me in the eye and seeing me.  I think it’s called, “bearing witness”. When someone bears witness to you, it’s like they see with eyes behind the eyes, and they see you behind the you. Intimacy. Connection. Knowing. 

Do you feel it? I feel it. 

Another way of saying, “love isn’t rude or self-serving or irritable” is to say that love notices, responds, sees. 

Can I tell you something incredible about how this plays out in the bible? Trust me. 

One of my favourite verses is Exodus 3:7 where God speaks to Moses through the fiery bush and God says, “I have seen the misery of my people, I have heard their cries for help, and I am concerned about them.” God *sees* their misery, and *hears* their cries. The other day I wanted to know what the Hebrew was for “concern” here in Exod 3:7, because “concern” is a subjective term and could go either way. Is it like when your dad sits you down and says, “I’m not mad, I’m just concerned” or when the doctor says there’s cause for “concern” and you need to come in right away? Either way, I don’t like it. So the other day, a friend of mine, Shannon, had her language software with her in class and she looked up the Hebrew for me. It took both of our breath away. The word for “concern” here is actually just the Hebrew verb, ‘yada’ which means “to know”. To translate it woodenly would be to say, “I see their misery, I hear their cries, I know their suffering.” That might not sound intense but in the Bible, this word ‘yada’ or “to know” is the most used euphemism for making love. Adam “knew” his wife (Gen 4:1). There is another verb in Hebrew for “had sex” and it’s shakhav. Within the interpretative range of shakhav, there is no hint of relational intimacy  – it’s just an act and it could be entirely meaningless, self-serving, violent. It could mean to have sex, to sleep, or to die. It’s the word used to describe rape (Lev 19:20).  But to know someone? That’s intimacy. God appears to Moses and says, “I see, I hear, I know”. Compare that to when God appears to Cain and says, “Where is your brother?” and Cain says, “I do not ‘yada’ (know)” in Gen 4:9. Cain would have had to shut himself off completely to be able to do what he did.

I meditate on this for a moment, and I am struck by a vision of God appearing to any of my beloved Awakeners, when they’re alone and despairing, and I imagine God holding their face and saying softly, “I see your situation, I hear your cries, I know you, I’m here.” I imagine God saying this to me, who prays for you often. I imagine God holding all of us, as one clumsy child, and saying it over us.

That’s love. Love notices. Love is attuned.

How could Paul possibly encourage the church in Corinth to notice one another and join the flow of love? Jesus spoke a new command to the church that we ought to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Paul knows what that love looks like. That love stopped Paul dead in his tracks and turned him from persecuting the “other” to joining their cause (Acts 9). Something like scales fell from Paul’s eyes (Acts 9:18).  Paul knows about that love. To the Corinthians he spells it out: 

Love isn’t rude, love doesn’t insist on its own way, love isn’t easily angered. 

Love moves slowly. Love notices you. Love is relaxed and enjoying your company. Love reads your message and responds. Love notices you. Love hears you out – love asks questions – love defends your honour when you’re not in the room. Love knows you. 

Love shows respect. Love likes the clip of your jib and finds your quirks an essential part of you. Love wants to hear your idea and know the heart behind the idea. Love appreciates you. Love seeks the advantage of the relationship, of the community, of the big picture of which you are a part. Love comes from the bottom. Love washes dirty feet.  Love covers over a multitude of sins. 

Love is self-aware. Love takes responsibility. Love wants to help you tidy up. Love communicates clearly and gently. Love speaks softly and notices when you are tired and not at your best. Love notices you and responds. Love signals to your nervous system, “it’s safe here.”

What do you think, Awaken? Can we pray that God would empower us by the Spirit to love one another?  

Icon Art by Danylo Movchan

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