The greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .” begins one of the most famous sonnets by nineteenth-century British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
“Wait a minute!” you say. “Valentine’s Day is over. Shouldn’t you have written about love last week?”
Yes. And no.
You see, love isn’t something to celebrate only on Valentine’s Day, wedding days, or anniversaries. Love should be celebrated every day, every minute, every second of the year—with every breath you take.
“What a romantic!” you think—and you’re right.
Romantic love, though, is only one kind of love. The kind of love I’d like to address today is the everyday kind of love. The kind we miss if we aren’t paying attention.
There are more ways of showing love than sending flowers, giving chocolate, murmuring sweet nothings, and buying overly expensive cards because we can’t put into words the feelings that are deep in our hearts.
Here are four simple ways to show someone you love them. Since I love acrostics, I’ll use the word T-A-L-K.
First, take time for them. No matter how busy you are, stop what you’re doing and give them your attention. Now, I know we need to set boundaries, but sometimes we set those boundaries too close, too tight, and push away the very ones we want to draw near.
Too often during the time I spent with my children when they were little, I was thinking of what I should have been doing, what I was going to do next, etc. I wasn’t giving them my undivided attention. I don’t make that mistake with my grandchildren. When they come, it’s Grandma Time and out come the games and the teapot.
Look up Psalm 90:12 and reflect on TIME.
The second way is to show appreciation. Notice the little things they do. Say thank you. I know how unappreciated I feel when I make dinner and someone has to find something wrong with it (too hot, too cold, too bland, too spicy, or “different”).
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).
Remember the words of Mother Teresa: “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
The third way is to listen. Once again, give that person your undivided attention. Don’t be half-listening and half-thinking of what you’re going to say when they’re finished talking. Listen to understand, not to reply. Most times that person doesn’t want answers or for you to fix whatever is wrong. They simply want someone to listen to their heart. So listen with yours.
And remember: you have two ears and one mouth. The Amplied Version of James 1:19 notes that you should “be a careful, thoughtful listener.”
I love what Frank Tyger said: “Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you into trouble.”
And finally, demonstrate your love by showing kindness. Intentional kindness. Do little things—a chore that person usually does (like making the bed or loading/unloading the dishwasher). Put a note in his/her lunch. I like to put a Hershey’s kiss on Dean’s pillow when I go to bed. I’m usually asleep when he comes to bed, so that’s my goodnight kiss for him. He doesn’t like chocolate, though, so he puts it up on the bookshelf. When I make the bed the next morning, I enjoy it (I love chocolate!). That’s kindness going two ways.
“Be gentle with one another, sensitive” (Ephesians 4:32 The Message).
Once again, I quote Mother Teresa: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness.”
So, tell me, how do you T-A-L-K?
Father, never let me pass up a chance to let others know I love them. Amen.
Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:7–21
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.