• Kara Abernathy

Love is a Permanent Debt

So, I screwed up.

I was one of those girls. I had prioritized time with my boyfriend over time with one of my best friends and had set in motion a ripple effect of hurting her feelings.

My friend Morgan and I had agreed that we were not going to be able to afford to miss work, buy flights, and travel all the way to Nashville for a wedding. We were both invited, but we were both going to decline. Flights were really expensive and we were almost out of vacation days from work.

Enter Josh (my husband – but at the scene of the mistake – boyfriend). He had heard about the Nashville wedding and wanted to surprise me. He figured out the date of the wedding and found out that there was a concert at the Ryman Auditorium a night before the wedding with two of my favorite bands: Penny & Sparrow and Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors.

When he told me about the concert, I was immediately determined to make it happen. Seeing two of my favorite bands perform, exploring Nashville with my boyfriend, AND celebrating a wedding? Now I would do anything in my power to make this weekend work.

When Josh offered to drive us to Nashville to save money on flights, I figured that the money we’d be saving by driving was enough to make it work.

He bought the concert tickets, I RSVP’d for the wedding, and I requested off work using my last personal day. Everything seemed great – until it wasn’t.

When I sat down with Morgan in our apartment living room to tell her I was, in fact, going to the wedding, I realized that she was upset. Here I had given her my word and we both were going to decline together, but now I was going to drive with my boyfriend and make a new plan.

I understood where she was coming from. She had already RSVP’d “no” with the assumption that I would also decline, but now I had changed my mind. I had never told her “no” and then turned around and told Josh “yes.” It wasn’t great.

My friendship with Morgan was deep enough that she was willing to hold me accountable for my actions, and for that, I am so thankful. Our conversation reminded me that I needed to continue to make friendships a top priority – even with a romantic relationship present in my life.

It is easy to get swept up in spending all free time with a new significant other. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to be one of those girls, and here I was doing exactly that.

Since I had already RSVP’d and Josh had already bought the concert tickets, it was too late to change the plan. However, Morgan and I did sit down again after the Nashville weekend and talk it out.

When difficult conversations arise, a true friend takes time to seek reconciliation over victory in fights.

Morgan and I both desired to acknowledge each other’s feeling in the transition between two roommates who were both single to my growing dating relationship with Josh.

When I explained how I was trying to appease both of them, she met me with grace. When she explained how her feelings had been hurt because my decision seemed hypocritical, I asked for forgiveness.

We are reminded in Romans about how we should approach difficult conversations. As Christians, our main goal should be reconciliation over trying to “win” an argument.

It’s interesting that Paul speaks of love as a debt we owe to others. He labels love as a permanent debt.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10).

I didn’t do well at loving Morgan when I didn’t keep my word. However, she was loving in return.

Isn't it amazing that love sums up all other commandments? Only love fulfills the law.

If we can remember to treat love as a debt we owe others, it will shape our entire perspective. We will replace selfishness and hypocrisy with selflessness and honesty.

No matter how others treat us, we owe them love. That's it. That's what the gospel calls us to do.

The only thing we owe each other is love. Love continues to forgive, continues to offer grace, and continues to seek reconciliation.

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© 2019 Kara Abernathy

Disclaimer: my thoughts do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of my employer.