Loving others is kind of a two-way street for me. On the one hand, it’s so easy–I root for people, I really like people, I see the best in people. Other times, it’s really hard to love others – the Ted Cruz-types who say there’s no room for gays in their world (and apparently their hearts) or the shitheads who are bound and determined to be ignorant bigots come to mind. It’s incredibly difficult to deal with those types who say certain groups are the “problem” and are the ones causing the most problems.
There are plenty of great examples of how to BE love: Mother Teresa was famous for her piety and humble life as she tried to be present and loving with everyone she came in contact with; MLK was famous for standing up and speaking out against hate; there’s the saying that Jesus IS Love because of the example he set by treating people who were otherwise despised with incredible kindness.
There are great lessons to be taken from those people. There are others to be taken from those in our lives. And, sometimes, I feel like I could learn a lot by being more attentive to my own inner processes and watching how my actions affect others. I’m sure you’d find the same by asking one simple question: What Am I Causing?
The ability to love the unloveable, the disagreeable, or even the unfamiliar… that’s a big task. Overcoming our own thoughts, feelings, predispositions, ego… THAT’S a bigger task.
Love is a choice as much as it is a feeling. What we do with the love we feel is how we communicate it to others. I saw something once that went:
Love is a verb.
Without action, it’s merely
5 Ways to Turn Love into Action
- They kill judgement. At the end of the day, we can only control ourselves. We all have flaws, we all have brokenness, we all fall short of perfect. Let’s be people who extend grace and allow those around us to feel the breath of fresh air that is acceptance. Seriously, watch a person’a reaction when they realize you’re not there to give them a hard time. Feel how your body reacts when you are with people who you know accept and like and won’t judge you – if your butt isn’t relaxed, I’ll buy you a beer. I’m working on a hiney-related theory.
- They forgive. Beyond acceptance, people need forgiveness. We need to extend it to others and to ourselves – it’s a healing thing any way you slice it. In a world of unresolved conflict, deep-seated pain, a powerful gesture of love is the extension of forgiveness. Whether it’s small or large, let it go, and witness the overwhelming power of love unfold before your very eyes. And that doesn’t entail that holier-than-thou “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” bullcrap either. Shove that where the sun don’t shine.
- They affirm, even if they don’t agree. Similar to #1. As our friends and family share their hopes and dreams, we have the chance to be people who strengthen them & not tear them down. We may not agree with what they do, but who are we to tell them they’re wrong? (Unless, it’s an obvious wrong… for all you cheeky wannabe-trolls out there who would say, “Well, what if they want to kill someone?” And then I’ll trot out my law degree and we can really talk about it.) Life is perspective & we can’t expect everyone to make the same choices as us. However, we can assume everyone wants to be treated the same as we do: with patience and kindness. Take into account The Backfire Effect, too. From shared excitement to words of encouragement, this simple detail can change someone’s world.
- They listen to understand. You might be bored by what someone is talking about, but if you listen to understand, you can turn the situation into an exploration in your own mind & stay engaged. There are more than words to ingest when someone is talking – there’s word choice, tone, inflection, even what they’re NOT saying. To offer a fellow human the opportunity to share their heart has more power than we will ever know. Think of how you’ve felt when you were heard, or when you weren’t. A listening ear can provide a much-needed moment of clarity or even be the catalyst for healing.
- They defend, even if it’s tough. We are living in the Age of Spin, & what’s true and right has been bastardized. We must remember: people are still people. We are fragile (no matter how much people post that they’re lions or bodybuilders or Iron Men). Sometimes, we’re weak and in need of comfort. While the rest of the world tears down people who may be ugly to “cultures” standards, let’s vow to stand for the weak, the broken, and the ugly, even if it’s tough. My Papaw told me that my willingness to stand up for the little guy was one of his favorite things about me – that changed my life. And we need more people standing up against what we FREAKIN’ FEEL is truly wrong and messed-up.