February. Love month, one of my favorite months, all because of Valentine’s Day. This is the time of year the gals have an excuse to dust off their little black dress, and the gents stress over planning the perfect night out. The flowers. The candy. The romantic red and pink heart shaped card ready for you to open and read about how much he loves and adores you.
Today is February 27. The flowers have wilted. The candy has been eaten. And the card is buried amongst piles of homework or bills. The day came and went. Now, what?
Well, the day of love does not stop there. It doesn’t stop with your man. Love continues with the other 364 days of the year. It continues with your family, your friendships, your church, and yes, even your enemies. And let’s not forget the tattered man on the side of the road you pass every morning.
Eleanor Roosevelt had the perfect words to describe love.
“You like to respect and admire someone whom you love, but actually, you love even more the people who require understanding and who make mistakes and have to grow with their mistakes.”
Some people don’t want to deal with those who require additional understanding and consistently make mistakes. They want to get love instead of give love. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. Say the right things. Be there at the right time. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place where you give, and not a place you go to take. This is true love.
Many fixate on Valentine’s Day as the holiday of love, a day set apart for grand gestures, romance and celebratory levels of affection. But why does such attention and kindness have to be reserved for a day, or even for one person?
We discover those additional people at the dinner table, in your classroom, at your local grocery store or your workplace. We often stumble upon these relationships in random moments when we least expect them. And then there are times when we purposely create a bond. It’s all because you choose to love those outside your circle.
Love is like a box of chocolates.
Each one has a different flavor, color, and texture. Each friend, family member, random person on the street…each person you show love will bring different challenges, observations, and adventures to your life. Don’t just take a bite of each chocolate and throw the less desirable ones aside because the flavor isn’t what you expected. Each piece is a little bit of heaven to your soul.
People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. Walls are built because people feel judged. Assumptions are the termites of relationships. When you judge someone, you’re creating a wall, a wall that might rob you of some valuable lessons and potentially a great connection.
I believe behind every stranger there is a backstory that is the common denominator – for we all share in the human experience: pain, sadness, grief, lack of love, and then, with hope and help, step by step achievements. We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and rejection.
I will be honest and say I find myself judging others the first seven seconds of meeting them. Is this person worth my time and effort to get to know them? Why should I bother? How are they going to benefit me? Are they fun, positive, adventurous, etc.? This is a natural human response.
My new look on relationships is stop asking, “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and start asking, “Whose needs can I meet?” Think more about others than about yourself. You will be surprised by how many bonds you create and how many people you will bless and love. Give yourself permission to be uncomfortable and talk to people. They love. And they want to be loved. We don’t know what they are going through. We don’t know their challenges, their struggles, and their insecurities. You never know how your words, thoughts, or actions can affect them. Our relationship with them might change their lives forever.
When we show love and compassion in simple, practical ways, we are part of God’s ministry to His people.
The next time you see someone sitting alone in the staff lunchroom, go over and talk to them. Or the next time you notice an acquaintance having a bad day, lend a listening ear. It may end up creating a bond, a different type of love that would change your life and theirs.
Choose to love each day. Just like you would on Valentine’s Day.