As we are all born on earth into families, we have the opportunity and given the gift of relationships. We might not think of it as a gift, but it is. Some of us shy away from these relationships while others run toward them. I am the kind that runs toward them and will always live among people. I love conversations and emotional attachments while others might like to live as a hermit.
Through painful experiences in marriages, with siblings, parents, or friends, many would rather stay away from close emotional ties than feeling the hurt of what happened in the past. For those who have experienced divorce or death of a spouse, it’s a leap of faith to love someone again.
For those who have had difficult family relations, it can be difficult to open our hearts to them. I have spent time with others who did not know how to love another person. So in practical terms how can love each other?
My first thought took me to the most loving of all mankind and that is God. We are beloved children of our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ taught his disciples to love. From John 13:34 it says: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” So much easier said than done; especially with certain people but there it is from the Master himself. He is the perfect example and we must learn how to follow this great commandment.
The next thought was that we should love ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves first, then how can we love others? There are many tools we can use to accomplish this important step. Through a few devastating experiences, I had a really hard time thinking I was worthy of being loved not only from others but for myself.
With the help of a dear counselor who taught me some tools I can use to heal myself, I was able to heal my spirit back to feeling love for myself. It was an amazing personal journey and I’m glad I took the time because now I can feel the difference within myself. Find a way to heal yourself into loving yourself. It sounds unbelievable, but it’s not. It’s a wonderful gift we can give ourselves.
A favorite scripture of mine is from Ephesians (Ephesians 4:32) which says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I know of several amazingly kind people who show so much love to others through their kindness.
It’s really amazing. It’s hard to always be kind when we feel anxious or hurt; that is a challenge but we can keep trying. When our natural man attitude wants us to be cruel or indifferent, we must find a way to remember to be kind. It’s hard for me as well. Thank goodness there are good examples of others in our life that are kind.
My next thought led me to think about how people react to each other. When we build a trust within another and show love to that person, this illustrates our love for that person. Positive emotions only come by trusting the person you want to love or love you.
Betrayal is an ugly crime. Not only does the person being betrayed learn not to trust but the one who betrays will lose that trust and even feel negative emotions from his/her actions. It’s a lose/lose situation. We hurt ourselves just as much as whom we hurt when we betray the trust of those we love. It is a difficult mountain to climb as we learn to trust again after being betrayed but it is necessary for learning to love another.
Learn our love language:
I love the concept of the five love languages that Gary Chapman has created. We each share in five different areas of how we receive love. If we find what language our family and friends respond to in receiving love then we can use that tool to show how we love that person. It’s an incredible find.
Whether we feel love through words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time or receiving gifts; we can each help each other to feel love and acceptance through one or more of those portals. It’s like finding a treasure and acting upon it. We can know how to help our loved ones, feel love.
These are just a few of many ways we can love one another. The important idea here is to just start today. Find ways to love those around you. It will always be a win/win for all involved.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.