Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope this day is a great reminder to us all to love ourselves and one another every single day and not just on "Love Day" (Thanks for that phrase, Daniel Tiger...). :-)
Originally I had thought I would do three posts--one post about loving ourselves, one post about loving family & friends, and one post about loving our community. But when I sat down to write the second and third posts, I realized that how we love our family, friends, and community is, or should be, very similar. Some of the details will obviously look different but the foundation is the same: we love people with our actions and our words.
"Actions speak louder than words." That's the phrase, right? Words are overwhelmingly important but it's a fact--we can say whatever we want but if our actions don't match our words, the words lose significance. Loving others through our actions also goes beyond saying we're going to do something and actually doing it. Don't get me wrong. Dependability absolutely plays a major role. Part of how I show my family I love them is by always being on time to pick up my son at school, by grocery shopping, and loading the dishwasher. I do the laundry and take the boys to the library and vacuum up all of our black lab's dog hair. Every day I wake up committed to them knowing how much I love them. I may not always end the day feeling like I did a great job of accomplishing that goal but the next day, I try again.
Actions also vary with our stages of life and current circumstances. We show love by showing up when it isn't expected. We may be showing love to others by caring for a sick loved one or helping a friend who has a newborn baby. Maybe you feel strongly about a cause or belief---volunteering with a local organization, donating money, attending rallies, inviting people to your church. Honestly, I can think of a couple people that are so good at acting out their convictions and, man, sometimes I don't share the same opinions but I am so inspired by their passion! I see this area (serving my community) as needing improvement in my life and it's something I would also love to talk about incorporating more into FIT4MOM Grand Rapids. (Maybe focusing on a specific organization each quarter? Each year? Just a lingering thought that requires more brainstorming. Feel free to share some thoughts/suggestions!)
Words hold great power and potentially more power than we realize. The older I get and the more I become aware of the situations and world around me, the more careful I am becoming with my speech. With the introduction of social media to our every day lives, we have been handed this wide open opportunity to say whatever we want. It emboldens people, sometimes in a negative manner. We feel a sense of invincibility that wasn't there before---we can say what we want and hundreds of people will hear (read) what we have to say and we don't have to say it directly to their face. There are so many things that people post on social media that I read and think, "Wow, I don't think they would dare say that to me in person and if they did, I think they would realize how hurtful their words are." Let's build each other up, not tear each other down! There are hosts of outside sources that love to create divides and controversy and "them versus us" but guess what? "They" can only accomplish that if we give them power. I'm not singling out politics or religion or whatever social issue is trending right now. I'm simply saying that at any point in time, we will be facing down something that wants to create chaos. So how do we fight back, not just on social media but in our every day, real lives? We treat others how we want to be treated. We empathize. We congratulate when others succeed. We sympathize when others are in mourning. We encourage when others are feeling down. WE SPEAK LIFE into those who are around us. What kind of LIFE are you choosing to speak? I hope that I am speaking a life of dependability and honesty and compassion and kindness and thankfulness and faith. A life in progress, of course, but a life striving for improvement each day.
I truly hope you felt loved today---whether it was love from a spouse, child, friend, or a stranger. I hope that realize that you are worthy of love every day and that those around you are also worthy of love every day. It doesn't need to be extravagant love---just love that lets people know that their life matters.