Love puts up

by Kari on April 24, 2013

“Love … puts up.”

-1 Corinthians 13


I flipped open the laptop–there on the keyboard lay the photo.

I shook my head and smiled, a little surprised at the emotion welling up in my eyes. It’s been 10 years of passing that thing back and forth, sneaking it into unexpected places for the other to find. Book lovers, we had perused the small used book store at the beach, sorting through dusty titles, searching for some hidden literary gem. I don’t remember what we bought, but when we got it home, tucked within the pages was this polaroid picture.

Now it’s been tucked into places more times than I can count. It’s spoken a thousand words. We’ve tucked it in at times to say, “I’m sorry.” At times it means, “Just thinking of you.” And at times it means so much more. But whenever I see this photo it’s like another stitch, like pulling that thread taut and tugging so slightly, so all the stitches tighten. This picture reminds me of all the stitches over the years and pulls them tighter together.

And now, you’re away. This afternoon you drove off, and Heidi waved her little arm until we couldn’t see you anymore, and I felt silly for feeling so sad. It’s only a week, after all. But suddenly I remembered yesterday, how I had sighed (the classic victim-SAHM sigh) as I sorted through your middle pile. How I eyed you accusingly when you shelled pistachios right after I’d cleaned the counters. How I only half-listened this morning when you shared your idea with me. (How could I forget how much courage it takes to speak dreams out loud?) I remembered  how you let me eat your french fries today and how you met us for a picnic when I’m sure you had more pressing things to do. And I remembered how you worked all afternoon fixing the lawn mower, and surprised me with Peet’s coffee for my trip this weekend. Then I remembered how I gave you the stink eye when you ate the last of the caramel corn.

How I left today without even doing your laundry. And how you said no big deal and cheerfully dug through the dirty clothes to find enough socks to wash and take on your trip.

Why do I love so pathetically?

I stared off, sad for all the ways I haven’t loved you more. But then, this picture somehow centered me. It always does.

Because you put it there and it tells me, all over again, that love covers a multitude of sins.

It is us, in so many ways. The faux wood panelling is hideous, of course, and I love it. The artwork is off-centered, and not in an artistic way. The purple and red pillows are delightfully strange, but the faces are the best.

He is Just. So. Happy.

His hand is on her thigh, his tie is huge, and he’s just grinning from ear to ear.

She, well, she’s half-smiling, but really thinking of what to make for dinner.

I am this woman, except I have better hair.

She’s putting up with the picture-taking (and him?) even though she’d rather be checking some ridiculous item off her list.

He’s just happy with his hand on her leg. The End.

He puts up with her half-smile just as she puts up with his beam. 

And that’s the beauty of it: Love puts up.

Because not all romance is wild passion all the time. Because I put up with your stuff and you put up with mine. And because even though this couple isn’t running barefoot down a beach, their love is compelling to me. Because that’s just it: Love puts upBecause at different times last week each of us wanted to pack up and quit this ministry life. And both times the other one of us simply put up. Listened. Waited. Stayed quiet. Prayed. And both times we came around.

Because real love is so different than it is on TV. So much better. Because even the “putting up” part is good. It’s the time walking together in the valleys.

It’s the spaces in between the milestones, where you just keep holding hands and holding on.

Kind of like this:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (1 Corinthians 13:3-7 MSG)

Thanks for putting up with me, my love. I really am sorry about the laundry.

{Thanks, all, for reading.}


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy April 24, 2013 at 4:05 am

Perhaps one of my favorite posts. You really captured the crux of what marriage can be sometimes. I’m especially moved because this is hitting close to home and I am struggling to get through a period of struggle right now (hence, being up at 4:00 am because my brain won’t ‘turn off’ in times of stress).

Thank you for blessing me with your encouraging posts. I am amazed at how often they are just what I need at that moment. I ALWAYS consider them heaven sent!


Kari April 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Wow, thank you so much Tracy! I’m so grateful for your kind words!


Catie April 24, 2013 at 4:54 am

Hi Kari. Beautiful post. Sometimes I think we, as women, are so darned complicated. Men are (can be) easy. Your hubby sounds a lot like mine in this post. He doesn’t expect too much from me.. love him, love the kids, and keep my happy face on.

But I can make things so complicated. I loved your sigh.:) It’s easy as a stay at home mom to focus on the wrong things. But God is good and so is this life He’s given us. And with His help we CAN truly love people.

Thank you for your honest heart! I’ve been reading and thoroughly enjoying Plenty and Let Light In. I love how real you are and I love your heart. God bless you!! Keep writing! :)


Kari April 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

Thank you, Catie!!


Jeff Patterson April 24, 2013 at 6:20 am

My Love, if that picture was only worth this thousand words, then I could could justify this ear-to-ear grin even right this moment. Yet, as you capture, it means so much more. More words. More love. More grace, renewal, and hope. Now in the city a man will be running with tears streaming down his cheeks. Thank You Father for this love, a picture of Your Love.


Kari April 24, 2013 at 11:59 am

I miss you.


Mark Allman April 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

Yes it does! I think that is some of the best love there is… to be loved when we are at our worst.


Kari April 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm



Debra April 24, 2013 at 8:10 am

No wonder God loves the humble heart. Love never gives up and aways sees the best. (most often my experience is I am a few beats behind BUT love? He patiently waits for me to catch up) Blessed week. The house is SO quiet.


Brita Arcuri April 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

This one made me all emotional, and I loved it. You are a gem. Thanks for the reminder, Kari, to do my best to love my husband the way he deserve to be loved.


Brita Arcuri April 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

PS….you do have better hair.=)


Kari April 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Haha, thanks Brita! I know it’s a close call! :)


Anne April 24, 2013 at 8:47 am

You have beautifully captured the essence of what love, marraige, and sacrifice is. Thanks for modeling it and for your transparency in sharing it with us! p.s. – you have WAY better hair! haha! Love you!


Kari April 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Haha, thank you Anne!!!


Laura April 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I love this, thank you. I need to re-read it many times to remind me of what love is. BTW the man in the picture looks so much like my father he could be a brother. Funny!
God bless you!


Kari April 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Haha! That’s funny; I did have the thought when I posted it, “Uh oh, what if someone sees this picture and it’s THEM?!” THanks so much, Laura, for your kind words!


Monica Duncan April 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I’m so glad I checked your blog- I needed to hear that! Tears. Why do I love him so pathetically, when he loves me so amazingly? This was so perfectly written! Thank you! I’m inspired! :)


susan April 30, 2013 at 4:17 am

I love it, Kari! Thanks for writing this article!


Kimberly February 12, 2014 at 11:05 am

Thanks for this. :)


Kelsey Betts April 22, 2014 at 8:59 am

Kari, even as a single girl I am encouraged so much by the rawness of your heart and the marriage you and Jeff have. I want to give up on people, some that are family but then I read this-love really does put up. If I simply let love invade the crevices of my heart, overwhelm it, and allow it to overflow then the anger diminishes and the feelings of wanting to give up slowly fade.

Thank you for the reminder to not give up, because love is a wondrous thing and Jesus paid the cost for me.


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