Valentine’s day is right around the corner. I’m not the biggest fan of it, but I still believe that love deserves to be celebrated. And despite all the chocolate, flowers, and red hearts this season, love is the greatest gift of all. This is the time of year that those three little words show up quite often and are said often. The notorious: “I love you.”
That’s a deep saying, don’t you think? “I love you.” We say it all the time to family, maybe a few of us say it to friends, and we say it a lot about things we like: “oh, my gosh! I love ice cream! Etc.”
So, we say “I Love You” a lot and especially this time of year. But, what about showing it? What about meaning it? How would you do that? If you’re like me, you’ve been questioning what it means to love lately. Thankfully, my answer came through my meme collection (yes, I have a meme collection). As I was scrolling through, I came across a photo I saved a couple years ago. I don’t know who I got the photo from, who the original creator is, or where I even found it, but I’m glad I saved it. Safe to say, it’s a bit of an answered prayer. I’ve been questioning what it means to love and this photo is a list of ten simple ways to show love to someone. Actions speak louder than words, right? So, I dare you to apply some of the items on the list to your life. Start showing love to the people you care about most and the people who care about you. I’m certainly going to put effort into doing better at a lot of these to. Maybe we can keep each other accountable? I don’t claim to be an expert, but I figured I’d share my thoughts. Let’s check out the list and see what you think:
1. Listen without Interrupting
This is definitely a huge one in my book. I’ve noticed these days that people are so quick to talk and be heard, but no one really takes the time to listen. To really listen. I mean, think about how many times you’ve been in a conversation and someone cuts you off or you cut someone else off because you want to say what’s on your mind before you forget it or you want to correct someone. Maybe someone is trying to speak their heart to you, but you won’t be patient enough to give them the time? Listening is a huge way of showing kindness and love to someone. You hear their side of the story. How they’re feeling. And you get the chance to know that person a little bit better. I dare you this week to think about your conversations with people and how much listening you actually do.
You have to be careful, though. It’s easy to want to listen, but as you’re listening, you think of something you want to say. You could hold onto what you want to say until they’re done talking, just be sure that while you’re holding onto your words, you don’t lose track of what the other person is saying. And, if you end up forgetting what you want to say, don’t tell the other person: “I was going to say something, but I forgot what because I didn’t want to interrupt,” because that could end up making the person you were listening to feel like they were talking too much and then they feel bad. So, being a good listener is more than just listening. You have to be considerate about what the other person is saying and focused on that over the words you want coming out of your mouth.
2. Speak without Accusing
This one’s hard and I think it’s hardest at work around coworkers. Where I work, things tend to disappear. Our broom would walk away, same with treats we set aside for the dogs, dog toys, scrapers, scrub brushes, tape, pens, and much more. And when we need one of those items, we’re a little quick to assume that one of the other departments took it (when we could’ve easily misplaced it ourselves). It’s too easy to get bitter and go up to one of those other departments and accuse them of taking our stuff when we have no proof of if they did or not. You do that and your coworker is likely not going to give it back to you, but if you speak without accusing–in my experience–the coworker typically apologizes and returns it right away and you both walk away on good terms. One of the sad things about our stuff walking away at work is that we’re not so eager to lend our items out. I’ve noticed my coworkers and even myself being a little accusing when someone asks to borrow something (which, we should just be thankful they’re asking). Someone who may have never “stolen” anything from us would get a harsh: “make sure you bring it back!” when they don’t deserve it. What about in your life? Can you think of any instances where you may have spoken accusingly? I dare you to do speak with love.
3: Give without Sparing
I don’t know about you, but this one’s a little hard. People are naturally selfish, I think, so when it comes to sharing or giving something away, we might be a little reluctant–especially if you don’t have much to begin with. I think the world needs to be more comfortable with giving without expecting anything in return. Give your time. Give your food, money, or pens at work. I dare you give more than what people ask for and get comfortable with it.
4. Pray without Ceasing
This is one is definitely more religious and that’s okay. You don’t have to be religious to show love. Like other Christians, I serve a God of Love, and connecting with Him makes it easier for me to show love to others. When it comes to praying for other people, your heart grows for them more. You pray that their dreams come true, that they make it through their hard time, any illness they have is vanquished. You could say praying for someone is kinda like rooting for them and people always feel loved when they know you’re in their corner. I dare you to pray.
5. Answer without Arguing
The tone of your voice has the power to say more than the words you speak. Even a simple ride or low and someone can mistake you for trying to argue. When I think about this point, it just reminds me that kindness is key. Even when you feel someone is wrong, always respond with kindness in your correction. Like that old saying “take things with a grain of salt.” Sometimes you have to offer a grain of salt when you answer. So, I dare you to enter every conversation with kindness.
6. Share without Pretending
When we’re little, one of the first things we’re taught is to share. Share toys. Share food and we probably did a lot of griping and groaning about it. As you get older, it gets a little easier to share material things, but what about the immaterial? If someone came up to you and asked: “how are you?” Would you pretend that every is fine and your life is perfect? Or would you share the truth about hardships weighing you down? When it comes to your loved ones, you should feel safe enough to share anything and sharing the hard stuff makes them feel trusted and loved. I dare you to stop pretending and be honest with everything you share.
7. Enjoy without Complaint
Have you ever had someone do something nice for you? Maybe make you dinner or build you something for a project of yours? How did you react to that? Were you excited and appreciative or did you let that person know that the chicken was a little overdone? Or that you would’ve built what they made you differently? I’ll be honest, if I was that person making the dinner or building that item, it wouldn’t feel good if you critiqued how I did. Maybe you would feel the same way? So the next time someone makes you something whether dinner or otherwise: enjoy it how it is. Be thankful and happy that they did what they did for you even though it’s a little burnt or not to your specifications. That person took the time to do that for you. So, show love by appreciating every aspect without critique.
8. Trust without Wavering
Trusting is hard. Lately, I’ve lost my trust in people. So many have proved disappointing in one way or another. Whether its trusting someone to keep their word, be reliable, or just be truthful. Finding a trusting person is hard to come by. Sure, no one would trust a total stranger, but what about your loved ones? Do you trust them at their word? Trust them to keep their promises? Pay you back? Watch over your property? Or do you trust that they’ll be a disappointment? I need to do better in this aspect. Maybe you and I can do better together?
9. Prove without Promising
Unfortunately, in this day and age, words are just words. They mean things, but they don’t have real meaning. That old saying: “actions speak louder than words” is right. You can promise someone up and down that you’ll listen more or do that thing or not cancel on them again, but unless you do it, people aren’t inclined to believe you. So, why bother promising? Prove to your loved ones that you care about their needs and desires without promising anything more.
10. Promise without Forgetting.
This may seem counteractive to the previous one.l, but promising something isn’t a bad thing as long you remember it and keep it. Have you ever had someone break a promise to you? Or promise they’ll do something for you and they never do it? I bet you already thought up a time or two when that happened. It doesn’t feel the greatest. Putting your faith in someone and winding up disappointed. It makes you untrusting and bitter. You wouldn’t wish that on your loved ones, so I dare you to keep and remember every promise you make.