It’s Valentine’s Day, that wacky holiday that in America comes out to a mixture of the color red, endless candy. flowers, and sometimes depression (or guilt). Love is great, but Valentine’s Day? For some of us, the jury’s still out.
Whatever else Valentine’s Day may be, it’s a great chance to look love In The Practical. Whatever we may say about love, and whatever love may say about itself… what does love actually DO? If we’re going to love well, and we’re going to engage our souls, then let’s have at the “how.”
Well, glad you asked. And look no further. Here are 7 things love does.
1. Love L E A R N S M O R E.
We’re assumption-makers, aren’t we?
“She’s ignoring me.”
“He’s refusing to do the thing I asked.”
“She doesn’t like the way I said that.”
My son’s 7th grade teacher showed him how to break down the syllables of the word “assume” and use the phrase, “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” Ha! Should I have been annoyed because of the swear, or been grateful for the tip? Because it’s helpful. I’m an ass. (Aren’t we all?) I rush to worst judgments.
The people we love are nuanced, just like we are. They’re distracted; they’re grappling with conflicted motives; their actions come from wants, hopes, fears – just like ours.
Love doesn’t jump to conclusions, doesn’t get ruffled, doesn’t react (or lash out) real quick. Loves takes a second, puts the thing in context, asks a clarifying question. Love seeks to give the benefit of the doubt.
Love L E A R N S M O R E.
(P.S. Love learns more in small ways and big ones, and when it comes to the big ones, I’ve found nothing more helpful than the Enneagram to generate understanding that leads to capacity for greater love. If you haven’t checked it out, you should!)
2. Love G O E S F I R S T.
Here’s the thing about love: it’s proactive. It doesn’t sit on its haunches, surveying the scene, hanging around till a good time. Or till it feels like it – which may be never.
Love doesn’t wait till the other person does the predicating thing, opening the way for us to do Our Thing. It doesn’t wait till someone says they’re sorry (at least not most of the time.)
Love means mercy, and love means grace. It means enlarging the soul to embrace the other person… especially at the moment it’s hard. This is necessarily active, not passive.
How do we know? Because God went first. He came when we didn’t deserve it… and He still comes first, every day.
Let’s be people who go first with our love. It’s not what we want to do, usually, but it’s who we want to be. (And who we’re called to be). So just DO it – with that well-timed word, that hug, that small act of service, that Getting Off the Couch.
Let lead love you into initiation, without requirement of repayment.
G O F I R S T. It’s a sacrifice God will honor.
3. Love P U T S D O W N T H E P H O N E.
A backbone. That’s one thing love requires. It requires self-control and sometimes a will of iron to do the harder thing.
The harder thing, very often, is putting down the phone. That’s the reality of life in our modern age. We have these computers at the end of our arms that bring us into what feels like Better Lands Than Here at the literal push of a button – places we feel more interested, more productive, more important. Our phones are seductive.
But love, that greatest of all the virtues. It’s spelled T-I-M-E… and it’s also spelled “eye contact.” Love asks to be more important than that other thing, and it asks not to be rushed. It wants attention, and rightfully so. There is no love without attention.
Love means saying no to self in favor of the other. In the practical, saying no to self means putting down the phone. Doesn’t it? And leaving it down. Offering our impulses and addictions at the alter in favor of the other before us.
Here’s to it: let’s P U T D O W N T H E P H O N E and love the person in front of us.