What is Love?

“Don’t just pretend you love others,; really love them.”  Romans 12:9

What would it look like if we really loved people?  What is love anyway?  Years ago, in nursing courses, it was said “Love Thy Neighbor” meant having concern for his needs, including his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.  In that sense, nursing and nursing care plans are filled with love.  But does that mean all nurses love their patients?  Is it possible to look out for someone’s needs in the sense of checking off a list without actually loving them?  What does it mean to love?

If I see someone going by, or standing on their lawn while I go by, or see someone in the marketplace, do I ever look at their face?  Do I read their expression?  Do I wonder about how they are feeling?  Do I speak if I can, or smile if I can’t, or wave if I’m not close enough to be seen or heard?  Do I acknowledge that person in any way?

In big cities and crowded places its easier just not to acknowledge strangers at all, and some people remain anonymous for days on end.  Psychologists say we need to be acknowledged by others and to acknowledge them in return daily to be healthy both mentally and physically.  But we don’t take the time for it.  Is it the sheer numbers of people?  Would all that smiling or speaking wear us out while making our way to work?

What if we just acknowledged the people we see often?  Would that be too much?  Or would that smile and word nourish someone’s mind and emotions for another day?  Would it nourish our own mind and emotions for another day?

What about marriage and the family?  How much time do we spend interacting with our families?  The gift of listening without interruption is a precious gift.  And we learn more about our loved ones.  We appreciate them more.  And those gifts of being available to them nourish them, and nourish us.  What if we said “I will silence my phone for 2 hours each evening”, and spent that time in face to face conversation at home?  I wonder how many divorces would be prevented if we honored each other that way?  I wonder if we would have happier, better adjusted, higher achieving kids.  I talked to a boy the other day who said both his parents were working and going to school.  Then he sighed and said there was no one to listen to him anymore.  So I listened, even though he wasn’t my boy, because it may have nourished his little heart and soul for another day.

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