In keeping with my theme of gifts you can give others I struggled to pick just one for this last blog. There are so many gifts we can give of ourselves and I wanted to keep it simple. The topic was almost… A smile. But a smile comes from the heart, and a REAL smile is fueled by love. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
The answer was there all along. Love. Smiles, Hugs, Kindness, Patience, Empathy, Generosity, Appreciation, and a multitude of other gifts come from a heart filled with love. Now of course you can “fake” so many things but for the sake of what I have to share today let’s talk about the genuine love, the one that is so real you can feel it and see it… it’s an experience. At the risk of turning people off to some of my writing I feel compelled to mention that the two greatest commandments given by Jesus were to love your neighbor as yourself and love Him as he has loved us. Now if you don’t believe bear with me and imagine the greatest love story of all time, the hero spends his entire human existence LOVING others; helping, not judging, teaching, serving and then he dies for these people. That my friends is true love…. there is no greater gift than he who would lay down his life for his brother. BECAUSE OF LOVE. Don’t you want to experience true love like that??? Give someone the gift of being on the receiving end of THAT gift!
This incredible gift you can give cost nothing and it may require you to practice at it just a bit to get it right. Practice? Love? Yes! Especially if you want to get it right… the right where you see it and feel it and so do others. I there are three key practices that you must implement in able to get better at loving.
FORGIVENESS. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have decided to forget what happened but you have decided to no longer allow it to have negative influence over you. You must first learn to forgive yourself, to love yourself despite your faults. We all mess up, sometimes pretty bad too, and then we have guilt. You have to learn to forgive yourself, and make improvements. Once you know better, then by all means do better. When you make a mistake, learn from it! and then LET IT GO! By learning to forgive yourself you open the window of opportunity to realize that we are not perfect, far from it; and we all make mistakes. When you can see it for yourself, then and only then can you do that for others. Maybe, just maybe, they made a mistake too. Love people (including yourself) even when it’s hard to do. Forgiveness leads to acceptance.
ACCEPTANCE. This principal dictates that we love people for who they are; human. It doesn’t mean we have to like everyone. We do NOT need to all sit around a campfire being besties wearing matching shirts and singing Kumbaya (if you want to that is cool with me, please take a selfie and share it!). We are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, nor them ours. But we can love them. We can not judge them, because chances are they are fighting a hard battle too. We can not speak ill of them; gossip doesn’t look good on anyone… and yet it is such an easy trap to fall into. If we don’t judge then we don’t have negative things to say about others. Are you starting see how this requires practice??? So simply accepting people for who they are can allow you to act out of love toward them. Acceptance leads to Service.
SERVICE. This is as simple as acting toward others as you would like them to act toward you. Offer a kind word. Lend a helping hand. Be a source of support. Offer encouragement. Most importantly though you must serve others only because it is good for your heart and for theirs. There is no reward better than love and when you selflessly serve others you give LOVE.
So love. Love on everybody in whatever way you can. It’s what the world needs now! And don’t forget to thank those who do the same for you!