If You Love Someone – Act Like It
Building Bridges #5
“if I don’t have love, I am nothing.”
‘What’s your problem?’, I asked, all those years ago.
‘What’s your problem?’, someone else asked me, not so many years ago.
‘Do you really love me?’, I continued.
‘Do you really love me?’, someone else continued, not so many years ago.
‘Yes!’ I/they answered.
‘Then act like it!’ I/they replied.
The words were stinging and bitter, both in saying them, then, later hearing those very same words come back at me. They came unrestrained, choking, honest, hot, low, flat – and burned. Neither I nor they wanted the words to burn. We needed to know: ‘Do you really love me?’. All those years ago, someone I loved, deeply hurt me. So lost in rage they were, that their words & actions hit me like a blunt object, leaving me gasping for breath. I was stunned.
Not so many years ago, so lost was I, so lost in my own hurt, I spoke. My words were direct, and just as damaging to someone else, someone who loved me. When I heard someone else ask that very same question of me, at a later, completely different time & place, I knew. I knew more than I knew my own name, that I wasn’t acting like I loved them. I was humiliated, not by them, but by my own words. I immediately acknowledged to them, on the spot without justification, my own failure. Gratefully, I was forgiven. They were kind and understanding. A gift I’ve never forgotten. Presence of mind, awareness, humility, love: what do these crucial, powerful ideas impact in our daily lives? Everything!
Our words & actions are sometimes equal and sometimes not. Those we love know better than ourselves when they don’t match up. We are our own worst enemies. Yet, those whom we love so much, who truly love us, the ones we’ve hurt, forgive us, and love us anyway. They give us the freedom to do better. Sometimes, if we’ve hurt someone enough times, through thoughtless, insensitive, lazy words or deeds, sometimes, they leave us, and never come back. Sometimes, if we’ve been hurt enough times, we leave, and never come back, from friends, from work, from family, from spouses, from anything.
We don’t have to be angry, bitter, or hurt. We also don’t have to silently and carefully lick our slights. We don’t have to wait for the perfect opportunity to unload on someone else the blunt and damaging words in a single blow. We, through our own apathetic sleepwalking, indifference, & assumptions in taking someone we love for granted, that their love is a given – through all of these thousand little cuts of indifference, we wear them down.
We never know when we will see those we love for the last time. I’ve heard someone’s angry, raging, despairing words. Unfortunately, they were the last words I ever heard from that person. I have to live with that, never hearing their voice again. We don’t show our love just by apologizing. We show our love by taking the time to find out how others need to feel love and love them that way. We show our love by changing and not doing the things that cause us to apologize in the first place. It’s not just flowers and celebrations: it’s paying attention, listening, hearing, touching, encouraging, sharing, giving, working. We don’t quit until we get it right, and keep doing it. Who do you love? Who have you hurt? Without love, we truly are, and have: nothing. If you love someone, ACT LIKE IT.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
“evidence of spirituality is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There are no laws against this.”