We once had some very odd neighbors. Odd is not an insult; it’s a correct analysis!
Here’s why – every fall, a crudely constructed cardboard sign was erected in their front yard which read, “Love Potion #9 For Sale.” We mused if the potion would help someone love you or maybe it was the perfect formula to make you love someone! If the latter were true, I may want to buy a flask because loving someone, well, is often tricky. So, without cost, I offer you my very own “Love Potion #Mine!”
To love someone well, develop and foster these 4 activities in your relationship!
1. L – Listen
Listen more than you talk. The best way to say “I love you” is to keep your mouth shut! To be an audience who listens rather than a speaker who demands to be heard is one way to say, “I love you.” It does not mean we do not speak, it means we are slow to speak (James 1: 19). Our first priority is to be slow to speak and instead listen to the beloved.
To listen – to really hear – is to show value. It shows you are willing to regard their opinion as highly as you value your own. When you listen, you hear far more than words. You hear a person’s heart. So, slow down on the talking and assume a listener’s position.
2. O – Observe
You may be just getting to know someone or you may have known someone for decades. But, mere proximity does not guarantee really knowing them. To truly love someone well, you must know them, and in order to know them, you must observe; study them.
Sometimes we love the idea of someone more than we love that actual someone. Instead of loving them, we are imposing our impression of who they are on them. When they don’t fit that image, we may not extend the love they need. Observe who they are; study what makes them tick, what they like, and what makes them them. When you begin to understand their nuances – their strengths and their struggles – you can love them where they are for who they are. That gives you the opportunity to apply “V” next.
3. V – Value
We often don’t realize the reason we seek to love someone is not for that someone, but rather, for ourselves. We seek more to be valued and affirmed than we seek to value or affirm. When you know someone’s needs because you have observed them, you can value them for who they are and seek to affirm them. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us love does not seek its own. It places more value on the beloved than on itself.
Love values others more than it values itself. Paul put it this way, “Do nothing out of selfishness or vain ambition but in everything with humility, consider others as more important than yourself.” Phil. 2: 3-5
4. E – Encourage
To encourage means you grant them courage. It doesn’t mean you constantly correct, teach and guide them into becoming the person you have always wanted them to be. To encourage literally means you “grant them courage.” With your words, actions, and prayers boost them and buoy them to apply all the courage they have to press on and become all they are created to be.
Often we think because we love someone, we must keep chipping away at them so they will become better, after all, isn’t that just encouraging them to grow? Well, perhaps, it is just our attempt to squeeze them into the mold we have for them. Love really does believe in what is best about a person. It doesn’t dwell on what is worst. Yet, it does not ignore what is worst either. Love selflessly grants courage to another to become the best they are intended to be.
Question: What would you add to this list?