Disclaimer: Let me just say that I do not do everything right. If I give that impression at all, it surely isn’t meant.
I was challenged this week to be intentional with my love. I feel like it’s been a lightbulb moment for me. I don’t usually “try” in my relationships. I live and let live. I meander along. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Or in this case, if it could use some work…since said work would be annoying and I don’t want to deal with anything unpleasant…I’ll just float along and let my relationships take the natural course they should. On their own. As if I don’t really have a part in them.
I’ve just realized that that is quite the head-in-the-sand way to live. To think that I should intentionally show people that I love them. I guess I’ve just never thought I should have to? Or that they just knew I loved them and it wasn’t necessary to always be doing something for them? That they understood that I was busy, that I was stressed, that I had way too much to do, and I couldn’t be expected to put myself out on their account. Sounds super selfish, right?
It’s uncomfortable to self-evaluate. You find all sorts of ugly things about yourself. But you know what’s amazing about it? God’s grace. And then…you actually get excited about all the things you plan to intentionally do for the people in your life.
To give without expecting anything in return. It’s easy to have a conditional love mindset in our relationships. If someone we love hurts us, well, that’s it. We’re going to put a wall up and make them pay in some way. Either with silent treatment, drifting away from them by not calling, avoiding them at all costs. You name it. We punish. And when we’re not punishing, we’re acting like we don’t care at all, which doesn’t help matters.
Then there are the times when we actually do become vulnerable enough to express to them how they hurt us. If they respond in a way we don’t like, we’re even more upset than we would have been. The problem is that we just don’t forgive.
We don’t forgive.
We think we do, if the issue is swept under the rug, even forgotten if enough time has past.
But you always remember it. You always bring it up in an argument, or at least think about “that time when…” and the person you love has no chance.
No chance to become different when we think them always the same.
No chance to move on because we just won’t forgive.
Are you like that?
Do you only love conditionally?
Well, I’ve been this way in nearly every relationship of my life. I don’t like that I’ve been this way. God is working in my heart and character and He is making me a new creation.
To unconditionally love, like He loves. It means giving and not expecting reciprocation. You know the only reason that’s hard to do? Because our foremost thought is, “What’s in it for me?” It’s all about Number One.
That has to change for true fulfillment to take place!
I have to love, love, love. No matter HOW someone treats me in return. If they hurt me, my response should be humble, loving, kind. (I’m totally not talking about physical abuse. If somebody hits you, punch them back in the face. For real! Okay, so maybe that doesn’t go along with “Turn the other cheek”…but just defend yourself and get away from them. End of story!)
So, I want to intentionally love. To do for others and not be constantly thinking about my own needs that “aren’t being met”.
I have a wonderful husband who loves me in alot of ways. Instead of focusing on the ways I want him to show me love that he isn’t…I should thank God for my amazing husband, and ask myself and God, “What can I do for him that shows him I love and value and respect him?”
That has been my week. I’ve been focusing on that, and I’ve been excited to do it! It’s been fun! To give without expecting him to do something for me, just as good or better. No expectations, no strings attached.
This is just a tiny, tiny glimpse of the love that God has for us. Because God did something that was very unfair to Him. He sent Jesus to die for us. So unfair for Him, so perfect and holy and beautiful, to come and die for us in such an ugly, disgraceful way. He didn’t have to do that. He did it for us out of His unconditional love for us.
If we can be like Him even a little bit, the world will be a better place.
So, I made some lists. I need to make a few more. I listed ways to show love to certain people in my life. Some of Adam’s were: Make his favorite meal, DON’T COMPLAIN (because it totally stresses him out when I do), and Greet him lovingly each day. These were just a few. I want to make it a point to intentionally love him and everyone else around me. I know I won’t always succeed. Frankly, life happens. I’m not trying to be a Stepford Wife. But if I can just keep intentional, unconditional love at the forefront of my mind, I think the results may end up being pretty awesome.
What are some ways you could show intentional love to the people in your life?