Do you want to be a better lover? Before you spit your water out in shock, I’m not referring to intimacy. I’m talking about loving people better, more compassionately, with more authenticity.
For me, some days loving others comes easy, like digging into that triple layer chocolate cake, days when all is right in the world. Sadly, on other days (I’m blaming fluctuating hormones) it’s easier to stick my hand into a pot of boiling water. Okay, maybe not quite that difficult, but you get the point.
So many variables come into play (other than my estrogen levels) such as the lovability of the person and the payoff for loving the person. Let’s admit it, some people just don't act lovable. But for some bizarre reason, God didn’t call us to just love the lovable. Conundrum.
Before you cast a stone in my direction, I’m simply being honest. Yes, my goal is to achieve God’s agape love, the love that is unconditional and self-sacrificing. But as a mere human, a very flawed one at that, this goal seems lofty.
But alas, I’m determined not to lose hope. So I have a plan. Plans are always good, right? Instead of simply trying to like the person and bestow random acts of kindness on them, which, by the way, I’ve decided is merely my way of easing my conscience, I’m going to focus on demonstrating my love through authentic, genuine communication. Sound cliché? Sorry, couldn’t think of another way to describe it.
So here goes. Maybe you will join me on my journey to be a better L-O-V-E-R.
L Listen- Simply hear the person’s heart-the dreams, the disappointments, the joys, the hurts. No interruptions, no judgments. Sometimes the best thing we can do is zip our lips.
O Observe her body language. Does it match her words? Do we need to dig deeper? Should we ask clarifying questions?
V Validate her feelings. All of them. Yes, the good, the bad and the ugly, even if we disagree. Just because we validate the emotions doesn't mean we are condoning them. I know my feelings are often wrong, but they are still there, festering. Once someone takes the time to listen and understand me, my irrational feelings magically melt away.
E Empathize. I didn’t say sympathize. Simply feeling sorry for the person isn't helpful. In fact, I hate it when people feel sorry for me. It comes across as condescending. Instead, we need to put ourselves in her shoes. Try to feel what she's feeling.
R Reassure. No matter what hardship or heartbreak a person is facing, we can always offer reassurance. Personally, I have to be careful that this doesn’t come across as patronizing. A simple “Chin up, everything’s going to be fine” really stinks when you’re facing a crisis. And for the most part, I don’t think citing Scripture is helpful (gasp). I’m just being honest. I’d rather hear something like, “As hard as this is right now, your life will not always be here. It may take some time, but things will eventually be better.” And a sincere “I’m here in the meantime if you need to talk” seldom falls on unappreciative ears. And of course, the famous “I love you no matter what” (as long as it's genuine) is the best encouragement anyone can hear.
That’s my musing on being a better people lover. Now can I achieve it? We’ll see. Estrogen levels seem relatively low today, so I’m feeling optimistic. Hope you are, too.