Loving and Living
Wall coverings and Personal Relationships
As I pass the time (day 2) here in a hospital waiting room while my husband sits with his father in ICU, I find myself reflecting on everything from the color of the walls to the relationships in which I invest my time. Am I loving well?
It’s times like this when your mind wanders. When you wonder if you’ve said the things you need to. If your loved ones know how much you love them… if people know what you are really about… then my brain goes to “Does Joe know where my passwords are?” Silly, but we all think about things that will go unfinished.
Being self-employed (and the only “employee”) most of my adult life, I usually keep “unfinished business” in the forefront. I want to reassure my clients that in case of an emergency, they will still be taken care of, or that they won’t lose all of the work I’ve done and can move on seamlessly if I’m not here to do their work for them myself.
But to tell you the truth, I don’t really live my personal life that way. And it leads me to a resolve to simplify things. To get rid of the unnecessary. To make sure those who I love feel loved. I’d love to be the wise woman who then goes on to list ten ways to make your loved ones feel loved, but there is no die-hard list… everyone is different. People express love in their own way, and they receive love in their own way.
But… there are a few things that I have learned that may help you make sure the people you love know that they’re loved beyond just saying “I love you”.
1 Personalize your love.
Pay attention to what makes them tick. What makes them smile. What makes them upset. Understanding these things helps you know what makes them feel loved. Do they feel loved when they receive a gift? When you spend time with them? When you do a task that helps them? Of course, in a small way, all of these things are good to do… but you want to figure out the most meaningful way for the individual. Don’t ask them how they like to be loved. They may not know. And part of the “loving” is the fact that you made the effort to understand them.
Here is a good source for personalized love: The 5 Love Languages
The site begins with “Discover Your Love Language”, but I encourage you to investigate this in terms of understanding others’ love languages.
2 Listen. Really Listen.
This could fall under number 1, but I am listing this from a slightly different angle. I don’t know about you, but there are people in my life that I love deeply and/or that I have been friends or family with long enough that I have come to realize we don’t have the same outlook on life… or the same political ideology… or the same view on abortion… or… you get the idea.
I recently read a blog about this. How to Listen When You Disagree
The writer (and the listening movement he is a part of) gives some very valid points. His closing remarks made me realize that we (I) tend to shut out opposing friends because of opposing views.
The truth is, if our love can hold space for paradox, tension, and disagreement, there’s room for all types of beliefs and opinions.
Division is a choice.
Life isn’t a Facebook feed.
Our love, our listening, must bring in, not edit out.
Dare to listen, dare to be quiet, dare to seek understanding; in the end, it’s the people we need to love, not their opinions.
I think social media has made “editing out” even easier to do… and then that seeps back into our real-time living. Don’t get me wrong… social media has made keeping in touch with people so much easier! And it’s fun. But it’s also created a monster out of offending and being offended. Most of what I see proclaimed on my Facebook feed are topics for face-to-face discussion where tone can be heard and facial expressions can be seen. Where you can read the hurt in someone’s face when you “shout” your opinion that goes against every grain of your friend’s being. Where, when in person, you would (or should) respond to that hurt that you see with a softer tone or a search for understanding instead of beating them over the head with your opinion.
Note: Please don’t interpret #2 as a blanket approval of all things. It is merely a gesture of love to consider the heart and emotions of another human being.
3 Don’t Expect Anything in Return
I would love to tell you that if you do the first two, love will be returned to you in your love language and all will be hunky dory! It doesn’t always work that way. But if you do it anyway… well, that just expresses your love even more. And you grow when you love even if and sometimes when it isn’t returned.
Three points… that’s really all I have for you. These three things set the tone for a relational experience that loves deeply. If we could all do this, no matter what our belief system or background, things wouldn’t always sound so crazy. I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of all the virtual screaming on social media… and in the real media. Can’t we just get past, rise above, move beyond (however you want to phrase it) our pride and just see the people we interact with. It may just lower your heart rate… and mine!