This month we have been focusing our attention on the most important ingredient in our relationships … LOVE.
Love is more than an emotion … love is an action. Love is active and the power of love is that it acts out even when our emotions are lagging. All of our relationships are improved as we learn to love.
The crazy thing with our relationships is that it is often more difficult to truly love those with whom we are the closest … both in proximity and intimacy. There are times when the struggles and circumstances of life makes our loved ones appear (or even become) unlovely and unlovable.
So then … how do we love our spouses, our children, and our family not just during times of peace and calm, but even more so in times of chaos and confusion?
We LOVE them
The act of listening is the first (and most important) step in loving others. As we actively allow our loved ones to vent and be heard, we demonstrate our love for them. As we pursue to understand our loved ones rather than being understood ourselves, our loved ones will feel loved … and we will find them becoming more endearing to us.
It is incredible how many conflicts that seemed so huge have been circumvented as I truly stopped and consciously chose to listen.
But more than being a tool to building bridges to handle conflict, listening is an incredible tool for building a foundation of trust, acceptance, and intimacy with the ones we love.
Parents obviously love their children. Becoming a parent is one of the most fulfilling things you will ever experience and also is one of the quickest ways to cure selfishness. It is nearly impossible to be both a loving parent and also be self-centered.
A second important component in LOVE is offering yourself. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)”.
True love is more than just a feeling. I prove my love for my wife by actively offering myself to her. As I ask myself, how can I demonstrate my love for Kathy through my actions, she feels my love and as a result feels loved.
How can you offer yourself to the ones you love today?
I love my wife. But if I’m honest, I need to also say that my actions and words don’t always reflect the love I have for her. To truly love my wife, I have to express my love.
Our children yearn for their parent’s approval. Nothing can replace the satisfaction a child (even an adult-child) feels in knowing that their parent is proud of them.
When a child is unable to receive this from their parent, they will often move to either a destructive performance based track or they will seek approval and acceptance from their peers. While peers are important, nothing replaces the value a child feels from their parent.
I prove my love, by instilling value and by helping my loved ones discover the value that God has placed within them by the way I love them.
A fourth ingredient in the love we share is “connection”. While love is not merely “touch” … love definitely involves touch.
Physical and emotional bonding is an important aspect of our love. Our loved ones need us. They need the gaze of our eyes, the embrace of our arms, the connection with of our soul.
As we open ourselves to the ones we love through deep conversations, loving touch, the emotional joy laughter and heartfelt tears we will discover a deeper and deeper love.
We all want deeper communication, more intimate trust, affection and appreciation, and a growing relationship with our loved ones.
As we make a deeper effort today to Listen, Offer ourselves, Value, and Embrace we will take our love to a deeper level and discover how much we love those closest to us and it will become more natural to be loving … even when they appear unlovely or unlovable.