Always and never. These two words are the reason for so many of our conversations escalating into arguments, calm demeanors changing into defensiveness, and resentment and discouragement brewing in our own and our spouse’s hearts. We use the words like knives and they never de-escalate the situation. They always amp it up. When they’re said to us, they pierce. And when we say them to others, they wound. These two seemingly innocent words are used as weapons against the one we love the most time and time again.
Sometimes it’s in the minor things.
You never take out the garbage.
You always leave the car on empty.
But sometimes, it’s in the biggest things.
You always disregard my feelings.
You never listen to me.
These words are extremes, and even the one receiving the hurl knows they are so, but the intention behind it hurts still. It makes the one receiving feel as if they are always and intentionally hurting their significant other. It makes the one hurling the words begin to believe they are true. It discredits all the good and only leaves the negative. We are warned that these are fighting words. We know they do not de-escalate or encourage. Yet we use them anyway.
But what if we began to use a new kind of always and never?
What if we used those words for good?
“It always protects.” True love protects. It does not wound, it does not hurt, and it does not scar. It does not inflict pain on the ones it loves and cares for, but instead, it treats them with care and dignity.
“Always trusts.” It does not see the worst, but the best. It gives the benefit of the doubt. It chooses to see innocence clearest. It chooses to open up its heart and be vulnerable. It chooses to recognize intimacy as more important than security.
“Always hopes.” It always looks to the future with joy. It always waits with expectation. It is steadfast and patient no matter what the current circumstances look like. It anticipates goodness and it desires the best end.
“Always perseveres.” It does not falter in its commitment when things get rocky. It makes a promise it keeps. It sticks through the roughest waters. It moves forward even when expectations are not met. It sees the better days up ahead and reaches for them.
“Love NEVER fails.”
Of course, we know Jesus is the only true love. He perfectly embodies love and all its traits, and he bestows it on us. But we can take after him in these ways. We can begin to protect MORE when another’s heart is at stake. We can trust more when everything in us wants to believe the worst. We can hope for them when the one we love feels there is no hope left. We can persevere even when it’s hard.