If Love is the point of life, I Love my wife, I love wine, I love peanut butter cereal, I Love my daughter, I love yoga, God is Love, I Love God, and I love Star Wars … what exactly is Love? At least the “Love” that matters most? I define this Big/Divine/Heavenly Love as giving of one’s self for thriving and flourishing, but what does that mean? I came up with 24 words, and some thoughts, that I think will help us blossom into better Lovers.
Before we start I’d like to make three points. First, this definitely is NOT an exhaustive list, just the best ideas that came to me to get us more awake to the Love that’s within and without. Second, for awhile now, in my writing I’ve taken to differentiating between Big Love (for people, creation, God, and the like) and small love (for foods, sports teams, TV shows, etc.) by capitalizing the “L” for the former, and putting it in lowercase for the latter. Today’s blog is about Big Love. Finally, being an idealistic person, I’d venture to say below I will paint a high picture of Love. So let me say these are NOT measuring sticks or rules about Love, these are aspirations and encouragements … so let’s dive in!
1. UNCONDITIONAL– Love doesn’t need a reason to care for someone, Love IS the reason. It has no preconditions, expectations of return, and isn’t forced.Freely given and freely received, there is no end to Love.
2. SELFLESS – The better and stronger our sense of Self, the more fully we’re able to Love. Being healthily selfless requires a sturdy foundation of knowing who/how we are because it is notselfLOSS. Being selfless doesn’t mean we value ourselves less; it means we see equal amazingness in everyone and recognize the inherent dignity and equality in ALL beings. Then, we’re able to mindfully choose to put the needs of another above our own in a holistic way.
3. CONFIDENT – In the same way a car with no gas can’t go anywhere, a person with empty tanks can’t give anything.Confidence is recognizing we’re wildly and extravagantly Loved exactly as we are! The Universe, or God if you prefer, is forever on YOUR side! From the beginning, this Divine affection created as to be Beloved Lovers, forever filling us and surrounding us with Loving-kindness.
4. HUMBLE – Love is willing to get dirty. It doesn’t compete or compare with others. When we live from a place of Love we don’t need to make a name for our self … yet also aren’t afraid of our goodness making a name for us!
5. ATTRACTIVE – Have you ever been to a group, business, church, or some other gathering/collection of people and felt at home, seen, cared for, encouraged, and nourished at a soul level?That’s Love, it’s beautiful and draws us in. While the opposite, feelings of being “less than”, judgment, exclusion, fear, discouragement, and shame, are not.
6. INCLUSIVE – Love leaves/makes room at the table. It celebrates difference. It widens the circle. Love seeks out and wraps its “arms” around the hurting, excluded, sick, powerless, voiceless, and marginalized.
7. UPLIFTING – With words, deeds, thoughts, possessions, attention, and time, Love enlivens, encourages, nourishes, and heals, becoming like wings that send us soaring into the starry heights of life. This is a good place to pause and point out that most everything I’m describing doesn’t just apply to how we treat others and our understanding of God, it applies to us too! We can only Love others as much as we Love ourselves.
8. COURAGEOUS – Fear is a gift, in that it’s an animal instinct that protects us, and those we care about.When it comes to safety, fear does a good job of guiding us. Yet, Love is NOT safe. It overlooks our fears because to Love well is to lose well. When we Love, we courageously dive into the messiness of relationships and life, knowing full well we’ll be hurt at times. I originally had this word as “fearless”, but went with courageous because Love isn’t without fear; it moves us throughit!
9. NONVIOLENT – The energy of Love does no harm. Its attitude is one of kindness, care, and compassion. It doesn’t destroy or shame, it builds up. This applies to our thoughts, words, and actions.
10. FLOW – Love is dynamic! As a Christian I find two points especially awesome here. We understand the one God to be three persons. God is Love, the three Divine persons are in a perpetual circle dance of giving and receiving goodness, and we are made in our Creator’s image and invited to join the dance of Love that makes the world go round. Additionally, the greatest commandment is to Love God and others, as we Love ourselves. I point this out because it sings to me that Love is a flow of uplifting goodness that’s perpetually spilling from God to you to me, and on it goes! Love is dynamically always with us, forus, towardus, and beforeus, which leads us to be with, for, and toward others!
11. HEALING – While Love specializes in healing at a heart level; it also restores us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. While I wasn’t suicidal, during the lengthy buildup to my first divorce I was in so desperate a state I wanted to die. It was the outpouring of kindness, care, and compassion from friends and family that led me back to life. Likewise, after I nearly died during a family friendly hiking accident in 2008 (a surreal chain of events led to me plummeting 30 feet headfirst off a cliff onto a boulder), I’m convinced the tangible Loving-kindness of friends and family was just as instrumental in saving my life and healing me as was the skilled care of the hospital staff.
12. GIVINGNESS – Thank you Father Richard Rohr for making up this word, which he says might be a good way to sum Love up. It gets at how the dynamism of this benevolence is a giving of our energies for thriving and flourishing. It is an outpouring, which, by nature, requires a receiving. Giving and receiving are the flip sides of the same Love coin, which nourishes, encourages, equips, teaches, and guides us collectively toward the most vibrant, connected, and AMAZING life!
We’re halfway through and will finish up next week. What stood out to you? What would you add? May you have a joyously Love-soaked day!
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Grace and peace,