Tag Archives: relationship

Watch Their Eyes

It’s so easy to walk into a room, to ask someone how they are doing, and hear the quick “Fine” response and then move on.

There are secretly so many people who are emotionally hurt, silently in pain, and relationally struggling. OR, They may have just experienced a difficult conversation, trying situation, and/or confrontation that has taken their internal focus.

When I was raised, I was taught early on that when someone speaks to you, look them straight in the eyes. Some cultures see this as an insult. However, in the States we have become proficient at looking down: looking down at our phones, looking down at our computer, looking down and avoiding eye contact.

In a society that uses apps, email, text, and computers for social interaction, we are probably one of the most socially isolated societies. This is not a slam on social media. This is our issue. Social media is a great way to stay connected to people that we do not see very often or to see what good things are happening in people’s lives.

Here is the caution: remember, social media is usually the highlight reel in people’s lives. it has become even easier to hide what we are truly feeling inside. Let’s not spend too much time talking about what is wrong with us.

Here are a couple of encouragements and practical steps we can take to enrich our relationships and bring light or speak life into others’ lives. The great thing about these is you will feel even better when you do them and possibly surprised at the response.

  1. Stop and ask someone around you (co-worker, friend, family member) and ask them how they are doing.
  2. Look them straight in the eye and focus intently on their response.
  3. When they answer, watch their eyes and their facial expressions.
  4. If you sense any hesitation or emotion other than what they are saying in return, let them know you sense that things may not be okay.
  5. Don’t spook them out!
  6. If they respond and open up about how they are truly feeling, listen intently and offer encouragement.
  7. If they say they are fine, but you still sense there is hesitation, let them know you are thinking about them and praying for them,
  8. If they let you know things are going very well, ask them what the best thing happening for them is and celebrate with them!
  9. Be prepared to respond to them if they ask you the same questions.
  10. After you are done talking with them, jot down or take a note on your phone a reminder to pray for them.

These exchanges will become easier and easier the more you put them into practice and it will also become easier to spot in others what is known as their “countenance” and whether it is bright and light or tentative and down.

This is such a valuable skill to learn as you will begin to become more aware of others, attentive to their needs, and in the process, you will find your own fulfillment.

For more on relationships, you can get my book on relationships called The Lost Art of Relationship. You can get it in paperback, eBook and AUDIBLE!

www.LOSTARTBOOK.com


THE BEGINNING… (excerpt from the book, The Lost Art of Relationship)

Below is an excerpt from the book The Lost Art of Relationship: A Journey to find the lost commandment. Paperback, eBook, and AUDIBLE available at www.LOSTARTBOOK.com

The Beginning

I had my first “job” when I was twelve years old. I remember going to church one Sunday, and my father introduced me to a man named John Kafka. He held out his hand to shake mine, and as a twelve-year-old, I simply took his hand, but he shook mine with a death grip. He said to me, “Danny, it is nice to meet you. May I tell you something that will help you with your future?” I said, “Yes, sir.” He replied, “Whenever you shake someone’s hand, show confidence. You squeeze that person’s hand, so they know you are confident. A good, firm handshake says a lot about who you are to others.” I will never forget that first lesson he gave me.

My father had always taught me to show respect for others, not to lie, and to work hard. I still think my dad talked to John Kafka beforehand twelve. John Kafka was the president of Pollock Johnny’s, a polish sausage restaurant chain based in Baltimore, and he owned a house in a more expensive neighborhood. He was a wealthy man who had worked hard to get to where he was, yet he still wore clothes from the thrift store. He gave me a job at his house making twenty-eight dollars every Saturday to weed the rock garden behind his house and on the hill behind the in-ground pool. It was a tough job, but it strengthened my hands and arm muscles, so I didn’t have to work so hard to give a firm handshake. My dad dropped me off before he went to work and picked me up nine hours later.

I would not realize it until later, but John Kafka taught me so much about the importance of relationship. I learned that every relationship needs to be mutual; most of the time, we need to work hard at maintaining healthy relationships; and some of the most beneficial relationships can happen through tragic circumstances.

I will never forget the night. It was a Thursday night, and I had just finished taking a shower. My dad knocked on the bathroom door and asked if he could come in. I asked him to tell me through the door since I wasn’t decent. He said to me that John Kafka had just died that day. He was playing racquetball and fell dead in the middle of a game. I took the news pretty hard. I sank to the floor leaning on the door of the bathroom and cried.

Not only was he the first person to give me a job, but he was the first person (other than my father, who I consider my hero) to teach me valuable lessons about hard work, discipline, and the importance of relationship. I did not know it then, but the lessons on relationship would deepen in the coming year.

John’s wife, Marge Kafka, asked me to continue coming and helping around the outside of the house. I weeded the rock garden and all around their flower beds. It was a lot of territory to cover. I was now thirteen, making fifty dollars every Saturday.

An unexpected thing happened while I worked there for Marge. She invited me in to have lunch, and we spent two to three hours every Saturday just talking and keeping each other company. She had become very lonely with her kids out of the house and her husband gone. I always worried that I wasn’t getting the work completed, but she reassured me that her money was being well spent.

What I discovered later was that she desired relationship and companionship, conversation, and a feeling of belonging. She found it in a thirteen-year-old teenager. During a time when a teenager’s life typically becomes more about them than others, I was learning the importance of time well-spent with someone who needed connection. I’m convinced she saw me as her adopted grandson. She even let me swim in her pool on the hot Saturdays after I got done working until my dad came to pick me up. I only worked for Marge another eighteen months until I was old enough to get a job in a bookstore closer to home.

I learned many valuable lessons, such as the significance of putting others first, that matters, the importance of a firm handshake, the value of hard work, and the necessity of seeing value in others. These formed the basis of almost thirty years and counting of learning about relationships that continues today and will until my life is over. I am forever grateful to the Kafkas for teaching me so much.

To read more, go to www.LOSTARTBOOK.com


Jealousy

My dogs crave attention. We have three – a Basset Hound, Mini-Dachshund and a Chi Hua Hua mix (with what, we haven’t figured out yet).

I can call one of them and all of them will come. I can also start to pet one of them and the others will jump up and come over to get the attention.

This will not be a post teaching about dog behavior, but there is some value in trying to understand this concept through their example.

Dogs are pack animals. There is an alpha, and all the other dogs will vie for the attention of that alpha – if even to be considered higher in the order. In the house, they would consider me the alpha. If one of them is getting something from me, the others become jealous and come over to receive it to.

The Chi Hua Hua mix is the worst offender – but also one of the most loving creatures. She will literally push herself into the mix and place her head under my hand in order to get the affection over the other dogs.

A smile and a chuckle is the only response I can give as I equally spread the love to all three.

What is it that causes this response in dogs?

What is it that causes a similar response in people?

When someone receives an award…

When someone goes on a vacation to a place we have always desired to go…

When someone gets a promotion at work…

When one of our closest relatives makes more money…

When someone gets the job we wanted…

When someone buys a 60-inch television and all of a sudden our 55-inch is not good enough…

When someone has the affections of a person we desire to be with…want

Most of us have said the words, “I’m jealous of…” at some point in our lives. We become jealous because we observe someone who has an object, job, relationship, etc. we would like to have, obtain, purchase, love, own, enjoy, etc.

Jealousy can be very ugly. One of the main issues with jealousy is – it focuses on what we DO NOT have and on what we perceive someone else DOES have.

Jealousy usually rears its ugly head in a romantic relationship. A man or a woman can become jealous of the object of their affection’s time, or of any other person who has their attention.

Jealousy becomes the response and ultimately breaks down trust between the two. Jealousy will have the adverse affect – in that the person with whom you have the relationship feels so restricted in their other friendships all they desire to do is break free.

What causes jealousy? In a phrase – wanting what we believe someone else has.

Jealousy is entirely focused on ourselves. It can wreak havoc on your relationships.

It has difficulty, however, thriving when we become focused on the needs of others. Jealousy cannot survive when we are grateful of what we do have and celebrate when others have successes. It cannot destroy your relationships if you decide to be thankful for what you have.

Jealousy can present itself almost instantaneously when we start to believe we deserve something. It can tempt you to do things dishonest, to spend more than you have, to pass blame when the blame belongs to you, to put others down to lift yourself up, and also to enter into a self-deprecating perspective that becomes a vicious cycle of “woe is me”.

When our motive becomes “others” focused, and we begin to allow humility to permeate our thoughts and our actions, then our desire can be shifted to helping others.

What would it look like in this world if we were all more aware of the needs of others around us? What kind of society would we live in if the goal were to give rather than to receive?

Imagine what would happen in our own lives and attitude toward others when we share in the joys of another person’s achievements, showing honor, being dignified in our relationships, and trusting God will take care of our needs.

When Jealousy begins to creep into your thinking or your heart, recognize the self-induced emotion that wants something someone else has. Take that thought or feeling and transform it into an act of love and humility.

 

For more on the Lost Art of Relationship – read the archived articles at www.LostArtOfRelationship.com

I welcome your thoughts and comments!


F.I.R.E.

California is ablaze. It is surreal to see pictures of an entire town decimated by flames.

No amount of water could stop the Valley Fire from chewing up every piece of timber, plastic, metal, or anything else flammable that was in its path. It is shaping up to be one of the most destructive and costly fires California has ever seen.

Seeing the images and smelling the smoke has churned my thoughts. How does a fire relate to our relationships? Here are a few…

When you are antagonizing a friend – you are “playing with fire”.

When you are making amends – you are “putting out a fire”.

When you want someone (namely your spouse) – you are “burning with a passion”.

Fire has many uses. You can warm your entire home with a fire in your fireplace, wood stove, or gas heater. You can use it as light for your path (torch) or as lighting for a romantic evening with your spouse (candles). You can use it to cook, roast marshmallows, bend metal, heat glass to create beautiful art, purify virtually any metal, boil away contamination in water, and the list goes on…

Fire, if left unchecked, can destroy virtually anything. Have you ever had a spark fly off of a campfire and burn a hole in your clothes, your camp chair, or even your hair? Have you ever gotten too close to a fire and burned your skin? Have you or someone you have known lost a home to a fire unchecked?

In our relationships, FIRE is not the flame, smoke and ash we would normally see.

Two applications of FIRE in our relationships could be the following:

  1. The FIRE we have in our hearts for those we love. We often hear we need to “keep the fire alive” when it comes to our married relationships. A fire cannot sustain itself without something to fuel it. Therefore, relationships need to continually be fed with the right combination in order to keep it alive.
  2. The FIRE of anger and resentment when faced with a difficulty in relationship. Think about it – if an issue in your relationship with someone goes unchecked, gossip, resentment, conflict, bitterness and hurt can rage on to not only damage the relationship with the one you are having the difficulty with, but other relationships around you as well. Remember, though, fire needs fuel to continue to rage. You can stop this kind of fire in relationship by battling it with forgiveness, grace, mercy and seeking reconciliation.

The other kind of fire that comes to mind is that of our own tongue. There is a passage in the Bible that says the following: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” ~James 3:5-6

Well, can you be any more blunt?

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a fire that warms, comforts, purifies, and incites passion than one that rages, destroys, burns and leaves wounds that take a long time to heal.

Here are four ways you can keep a fire in check and useful for keeping your relationships alive and healthy…

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Integrity
  3. Respect
  4. Empathy

Of course, there are many other positive elements we can focus on, but I can guarantee you, with these four you are well on your way to creating, maintaining, and even growing meaningful long-lasting relationships with others. All of them take work, humility, love and a willing heart.

Keep the healthy FIRES of relationship alive.

To learn more about the Lost Art of Relationship, keep on reading at www.LostArtOfRelationship.com .


Structural Integrity

…The ability of something to hold together under its own weight and whatever load is placed on it or in it. 

Each building is designed to hold its own weight of construction as well as whatever is placed inside of it. 

I’m sitting in my home right now and trusting that those who built the house followed the design of the architect, put enough screws and nails in place and built the house without “cutting corners”. If the house was not built to withstand its own weight, than a strong wind, or furniture that I put inside would weaken its connections and cause it to crumble – with me inside of it.

There is a challenge that was designed by Tom Wujec called the Marshmallow challenge. Teams of people are given 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow. They have 18 minutes to build the tallest free-standing structure that will hold the weight of the marshmallow on top. The marshmallow cannot be eaten, divided up into different parts, but you can utilize all the other items to build the tallest structure that will hold the marshmallow. The TED Talk can be seen below…

Sound easy? This challenge has been given to executives, CEOs, teachers, college students, and even kindergartners. Which group do you think scored the best?

The ones who scored the highest were …

The Kindergartners!

Why is it that children understand that the structural integrity of the spaghetti/tape/string tower is best when the structural integrity of the team is sound? No one is trying to gain power. No one is trying to be the one who gets the credit. There is the task, the team and the goal to be the highest tower to win the prize.

There is something to this…

Have you ever thought of the blueprints to meaningful relationships would help build a strong team in order to reach a goal – together – without one person rising to the top as the “winner”?

Relationships are only as strong as the structure the relationship is built upon. So often the leader of a group gets the “glory” or the “credit” for the completed goal, or the ongoing success.

Don’t get me wrong It takes creative, inspirational leadership to keep a team moving in the right direction, but that is only one part of the structure. The entire structure needs to be built in such a way that the team can withstand its own weight (all of the personalities on the team), a strong wind (pressures from outside influences, unforeseen setbacks to the goal, people leaving the team, new people coming on) and the furniture that we put inside (the systems and processes we put in place to set the scene when we work together).

When relationships are strong, mutual respect is shown, each person working in their strengths and complementing the weaknesses of others, there is a harmony that happens. That harmony creates the environment by which people can work toward a common goal and not worry about who rises to the top or who takes the lead. It is an environment where people understand that the integrity of the team is necessary and protected.

Are there perfect relationships? Absolutely… NOT! However, there are relationships that can withstand the test of time, adversity and emotion.

Why?

The principle of Structural integrity – the ability to hold together under its own weight and whatever load is placed on it.

Trust, Vulnerability, Love, Hope, Support, Respect, Honesty, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Good Communication, Connection, Purpose, Authenticity, and a host of others are the building blocks to a relationship that can last a lifetime.

This kind of relationship was designed by the Great Architect – God Himself. His purpose in creating us was to be in relationship with us and us with each other. If you desire a strong, structurally sound relationship with anyone, it will need to be built with these characteristics so they can hold together and withstand whatever load is placed on it (whether externally or emotionally).

To learn more about the Lost Art of Relationship, keep on reading at www.LostArtOfRelationship.com .

 


People are not ALWAYS what they seem…

Most of us would like to believe we are experts at reading people.

There are some who have this gift. More often than not, it is a challenge to truly know who a person really is until after you get to know them.

Unfortunately, we can become SHOCKED at how they present themselves, albeit hidden beneath a facade to those who are on the outside.

I used to believe that all people had altruistic intentions, and even if they did something against another human being, they were simply masking what the true hurt was on the inside. This may still be the case.

However, through many years of relationships, I have come to discover there are people who outwardly seem altruistic, but inwardly they crave power, control and recognition at the expense of others.

In no way am I recommending not taking a risk and placing trust in others. As a matter of fact, I address trust and vulnerability in previous posts. These are still paramount and will always be critical factors in building healthy relationships. (See previous posts).

The intention behind this short blog post is simply to pass along these cautions:

People are not always what they seem.

Be careful who you affiliate yourself with.

When someone’s true intentions become clear, separate yourself immediately to protect your reputation and future.

There are two old proverbs that I choose to live by (among others), “Choose a good name over great riches,” and “Bad company corrupts good character.”

It has been too long since my last post. Look for more in the near future. It’s good to be back!


First Impressions

First impressions are everything!

Not only did I hear this growing up – I actually believed it!!

Sometimes first impressions can be right on target. However, they are not 100% and are certainly not foolproof.

Malcolm Gladwell, noted author of a book entitled “Outliers,” was quoted as saying this… “We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.

We should always do our best at letting people see who we are at a first meeting, but cautiously. If we fake who we are in order to make a good first impression, we can begin the troublesome road of deception. Be certain, the real you will come out eventually.

Here are a few reasons from my perspective, why first impressions are not as accurate as we think they are.

  1. They do not take into account the circumstances surrounding the target of our first impression.

Someone we meet for the first time could have had the most absolute worst day, with few things going their way – causing a negative feeling on our part because they avoided eye contact or showed ambivalence to our meeting.

OR, someone could be elated from a former deal they brokered in which they were dishonest and upon meeting us they seemed pleasant, friendly, and happy. The danger if we accept this first impression is that we may find ourselves cheated in a deal with them in the future and left wondering how he/she could have been so dishonest.

  1. First impressions do not take into account how WE are feeling, or what preconceived notions we may have.

I have been guilty of this many times. After an initial encounter with another individual, I may draw conclusions about their character or personality, which were based mainly on my emotions during the encounter.

As I have grown, it has become a much better practice to spend time with the other person, get to know them better and allow their consistent actions and behavior to speak louder than my ideas about them. Usually, someone’s true character will come out eventually, at which time we can make a decision about whether we will continue to pursue this relationship/ friendship.

  1. First impressions are simply that, initial feelings.

Have you ever said something in the heat of the moment that you regretted? Have you ever put your worst foot forward and wanted to go back and start over? OR have you been so caught up in your own life you were oblivious to the lives of those around you?

Something tells me all of us said yes to one or all of those statements.

In order to be fair to others, we should allow them a second chance. We certainly desire second chances when we blow it. Keep in mind this is in reference to building healthy relationships. There could be some that manipulate you and leave you feeling confused. Chances are, they would continue to do so if you gave them a second chance.

For the purpose of this post, we believe we need to look at all the underlying circumstances surrounding a first encounter with a potential relationship (friendship, co-worker, acquaintance, etc.).

  1. Where are we in our emotions and situations when meeting someone?
  2. What happened during the day or is happening in the other person’s life that could negatively affect your meeting?
  3. What was said about you, or about them, that could have tainted either perspective before you met?
  4. If we received a second chance in our relationship with God, shouldn’t we give others that same benefit?

Biblical Application

The disciples in Acts 2 were in the upper room when something phenomenal happened. God met them there and they began to speak in other languages as God gave them the ability to do so.

Those outside of that room who heard what was going on developed their first impression. Some were confused, but amazed. Some brushed off the event and said they were drunk.

Those who were outside of the upper room hearing what was going on with the disciples did not know who they were. They understood in their own languages what was being said, but didn’t understand why. Those who did not understand and needed to explain it away wrote it off as drunkenness.

First impressions.

Fortunately, Peter was able to command the attention of the crowd to explain what was going on. He debunked the idea of their being drunk, especially since it was so early in the morning.

Often we are not given opportunities to explain our actions after a first impression. We can be pegged as a certain kind of person or personality and it can be quite difficult to come back from it.

This is unfortunate, because there are some very good people who deserve a second chance in relationship. The question is, are we willing to treat others how we would want to be treated – and give others that second chance even if we were NOT given that same honor?

First impressions are so fragile. It is truly unfair to base a decision on relationship with someone who may have had difficulty with that one chance to “impress”.

This brings up another question – whom are we trying to impress?

If we are trying to impress someone, we leave the judgment in his or her hands. If we are trying to honor God in our relationships, we leave the judgment in the hands of the One who has the right to judge.

God takes our relationships very seriously.

How we treat others can say a lot about how much we value God’s view of us. This is not about just first impressions; it is about our hearts and how we view others.

Personal Application

If humility is evident in our lives, then a failed first meeting and poor impression can be overcome. If pride is there, the failed first meeting is very difficult to overcome.

I can say, with certainty, I need to be reminded on occasion to give people the benefit of the doubt. One way I do this is to personally invite them to coffee or lunch. At that meeting, I usually ask them questions and also to share their faith journey (where they grew up and how they came to live and work where they are currently). It is amazing how much you can learn about someone if you just ask questions and take the time to get to know them.

When you show a genuine interest in a life, often it brings a reward – of a good friendship. Hopefully the interest is reciprocated and God will be honored in the new relationship that has just formed.

What are your thoughts on first impressions? Share them below by commenting or replying. For more articles on the Lost Art of Relationship, see the right side of the page above for archived posts.


HOPE and Relationships

Do you have any relationships that have been damaged?

My bet is your answer is YES.

How it became damaged probably happened one of three ways…

  1. You were the cause of it because of something you said, did or are doing currently
  2. Your friend, family member, or co-worker was the cause of it because of something they said, did, or are currently doing
  3. An unfortunate misunderstanding occurred and neither of you have tried to reconcile yet

Damaged relationships cause hurt. We can respond to the hurt in a couple of ways…

  1. We can become resentful and pass the blame on to the other person (whether we were the cause of it or not). Not recommended.
  2. We can allow the hurt to negatively affect our other relationships. This is when we focus so much on the pain of what happened our other relationships suffer. Not recommended.
  3. We can try to see our responsibility in the hurt and do our best to reconcile the relationship. Recommended.
  4. We can understand that sometimes the other person needs to go through their own trial, that we were not the root cause of the hurt but possibly the unfortunate target. In this response, we determine to allow time to pass and pray the other person comes around. Recommended along with #3.

There is one response that will help us stay on the path to reconciliation.

Prayer and HOPE.

Prayer is simply put… communication with God. Talk to Him. Let Him know what is going on in Your relationships. I guarantee you, He knows and can handle whatever issue you may have. Ask Him for the wisdom in how to deal with the hurt of a relationship and to help mend whatever damage was done, no matter who was the cause.

Hope is very powerful.

Someone could be swimming in a sea of despair, floating in the dark night of the soul – and then a word of Hope and encouragement comes. That hope can be a lifeline they or you can hold on to.

Hope gives life to a relationship. The hurt is still there, but Hope helps people to say, “I’m not giving up on this friend, family member, or co-worker.”

Here are a few verses and descriptions to encourage you and bring you HOPE for and in your relationships.

Psalm 147:3

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

This scripture is specifically addressing the hurt that comes from relationship. You CAN be healed emotionally and psychologically. You WILL get through this.

Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

Allowing hatred or harboring a grudge is like a cancer. Not only does it kill the cells in infects, but it causes damage to the surrounding cells. In other words, hatred, bitterness and resentment will only drive you further into despair and it will infect all of your other relationships in a negative way.

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

No matter what someone has done or said to you or what you have done or said to someone else, forgiveness releases you from the continued hurt that can affect you and others around you.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

If God can forgive us, and we have much in our lives and hearts to be forgiven for – then we can in turn share that forgiveness of wrongs done against us. Also, this should compel us to seek forgiveness and reconciliation when we have done someone wrong.

When going through a hurtful situation in a relationship, it can feel as if it will never be made right again.

Trust can be broken.

Words can leave emotional scars.

Thoughts can take you captive to the hurt.

However, there is HOPE!

Love for someone can cover over a multitude of wrongs.

Forgiveness can heal wounds left by words.

Trust can be rebuilt.

Thoughts can be forced into submission.

Resolve to reconcile can strengthen a relationship even through the difficulty.

We all have a responsibility in our relationships, even if we are not the one causing the relational damage. It is up to us to show love, model healthy conflict, and to do our part to make things right.

You will not be able to control the response of the other person. You CAN control your response – whether you are the hurt-er or the hurt-ee.

Sometimes you have to allow the other person to separate themselves for a time. They may need to go through a process before they can be ready to re-enter the relationship. In that time period, pray for them. Ask God to bless them, be with them, and to help them in their relationships.

I’m not someone who says that positive thinking will change anything except your attitude. However, there is a quote by author Robert H. Schuller that has helped me…

Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.

Hold out Hope. It is a powerful motivator.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How have you walked through the pain of a broken relationship? Shoot me an idea of another aspect of relationship you might want to hear about.


Driving and Relationships

What does Driving a car have to do with relationships? Are we just a bunch of driving hypocrites? How we drive when alone may say a lot about how we really feel about others.

Let’s see what we can learn about relationships through Driving a Car…

Please share your thoughts and comment or reply below!


LOVE…

LOVE

Ahhhhhhh! Love!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this word?

Romance? Emotions? Honeymoon? Funny feelings in your tummy?

Kissing? Hugs?

Interestingly enough, I put this phrase into Google “first thing you think of when you hear LOVE,” and the first link to pop up for me was a Yahoo Answers link. On it were answers such as these – in no particular order:

Fairy tale

Anger, pain and sadness

…being hurt

It’s an illusion

What IS it?

What was your first thought?

For the most part, we have allowed our society to dictate to us what LOVE is.

The first thing we must realize is that LOVE has no working definition. WHAT?!?! Try to define it and someone else will come up with another definition totally different than yours. Also, some of us define love based on our own experiences – whether positive or negative.

Some would define love as “hugging your children” while another might say what you feel on your wedding day. The two are VERY different emotions/feelings, but is that love?

Some may even define love as a sexual relationship or attraction.

Here is my answer to all of these. LOVE is not ANY of these things!

So, what is love? And cue song… “baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” (By Haddaway)

Great question! I’m glad you asked!

First let me describe what LOVE is not

It is not an emotion. It is not a feeling. It is not sex. It is not getting what you want all the time.

LOVE is a behavior, an action, a decision, a commitment. Let me be more specific:

Love is a choice. You cannot fall IN to love.

Let’s say you are standing on the edge of a cliff and down below about 20 feet is a pool of water. You are contemplating jumping off into the cool water, but you hesitate. Finally you decide it is worth the risk and you make the decision to jump in.

NOW, imagine you are on that same cliff, looking at the same water. You trip and fall tumbling over the side into the cool water. What is your first reaction? Is it one of elation? Or are you unsure of what is happening and how it will end up? Will you be pleasantly surprised? Or will you wish you had not fallen in, and you claw your way out of the water?

Which do you have more control over? YES! The first one!

At least if you make the decision to jump in, you have some idea of what you are getting yourself into. You make the commitment and you jump, understanding there are some things you may not be aware of, like how cold the water is, but nonetheless, you go for it.

We choose who to love, when to love, where to love, and how to love.

The best example I can give to you is this – Jesus. I know, I know – there he goes again talking about Jesus. Well, get over it!

Jesus gave us the best example of LOVE in the face of a most certain painful situation that was imminent should he choose to go down that path to become the sacrifice for our sins.

He had the opportunity to walk away from what would become an extremely painful death. But He was driven by love. That’s right! Why would someone choose that kind of pain and torture for love? Because He realized that from that painful circumstance it would pave the way for us to have a relationship with God.

So what is LOVE?

Love is Patient. When you are faced with a situation where you just want someone to realize you are there for them – patience is an act of love.

Love is Kind. When you would rather respond in vengeance, you decide to show kindness.

Love does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. You make the choice to be content with what you have, to be thankful for others and to look at yourself with sober judgment.

Love is not rude. When your first reaction is to be sarcastic and snarky, you decide to lock up the lips.

Love is not self-seeking – on the flip side, this means you actually look out for the needs of others.

Love is not easily angered. Ouch, that one hurt a little didn’t it. It takes a decision to suppress the anger that rises so quickly to an unwelcome event or comment.

Love does not keep a record of wrongs. When you are in a disagreement, this is the decision to NOT bring up all of the past hurts or offenses the other person has done against you. It is a continual choice to forgive.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Have you ever heard gossip that you know is not true? This is when you decide to push away the lie and gossip and stand with the truth.

This is where we need to discuss the qualities of LOVE that should ALWAYS be present. If these qualities are NOT present, then it is not love!

Love ALWAYS protects.

Love ALWAYS trusts.

Love ALWAYS hopes.

Love ALWAYS perseveres.

If you love someone, you choose to protect them, choose to trust them, choose to hope for the best, and choose to persevere through the difficult challenges.

If we put all of these into effect, than we can always count on LOVE, it will not fail us. Now how many of these are dependent on the recipient of your love?

If you answered none of them, you would be correct! Just as much as you decide to show these qualities, others must also decide to show them toward you. However, you do not need them reciprocated in order to love someone.

This means we can choose to love a complete stranger and provide a need for them. We can choose to love someone that has been rude to us.

LOVE is a choice: a choice to be committed; a choice to place ourselves in a vulnerable position with someone else. When we look at it this way and not as if we are “falling in love” we recognize if we choose to love, we can choose not to love.

Emotions come and go. I WISH I could stay happy all the time, but inevitably something will happen where I will become sad.

LOVE does not have to be as unstable as our emotions. As a matter of fact, Jesus showed how stable it really is, by loving us before we ever accepted Him as the Son of God and the One that takes away our sins. He loved us while we were denying His existence. He loved us while we were living our lives for ourselves.

Maybe this is how we are to love others. With the example Christ gave us, we can love others.

Choose to love.

This is such a big topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Shoot me an idea of another aspect of love you might want to hear about.