If you think you already know how to love then why would you even consider that I have something “you don’t already know” to offer? You wouldn’t, right? Another possible reason that you wouldn’t be interested in knowing about how-to-love is you are fine with things the way they are–you are accustomed to the turmoil, and you don’t see the need to change a thing.
So, why, then would I keep pestering you about the value of how-to-love?
As a psychotherapist–relationship doctor–for over 20-years, I’ve seen my share of clients in distress who thought they knew how to love their spouses, life partners, parents, friends, co-workers, and children, but didn’t. Honestly, if they had known how, they wouldn’t have needed my help. I’ve succeeded in helping many clients heal their relationships, and I’ve also instructed thousands of graduate students on how to radically accept challenging clients. How-to- love focuses on learning radical acceptance.
Now, I’m hopeful that your answer to my question now changes. Why? How? Because if you gave it some thought, you’d realize that like so many others you don’t know how-to-love. How do I know this? Because right this minute one of your many relationships is struggling. The other person could use some help and so could you. Believe me, you need to learn how-to-love, especially if it’s the other person who has the problem, which means you have one too. Agree? Contact me– I got just the thing for you.
“‘Cause I said so, now eat your vegetables!” There was a time in the history of our country that this remark would have been met with respect and obedience from a questioning, perhaps somewhat, wayward child. If I were America’s mother, this would be my attitude. It seems that some all-knowing-all-loving-supremely-sacrificing, old-school mom needs to yank this country (by the arm of course) into doing the right thing. Love is the way; and how-to-love is a better way. I’m going to keep bringing your attention to this matter–as would a nagging mother–until I get it undivided. I say repeatedly that to love is to radically accept someone. To do so means that we consider our need for grace and then give it to someone else. This is a skill that has to be taught, much like your mother forcing you to eat a vegetable that you don’t like “because it’s good for you.” Similarly, how-to-love is an acquired taste; once you learn to like it, it becomes your favorite thing on the menu, so much so that you serve it to your own children, making your family’s space/our country the place we wholly call home.
Admittedly, nearly any and everything we do in our country becomes a point of sales–we are attempting to change lives, ours included. We concoct ideas, images, ideals, gadgets, icons, etc. to make our point or our mark. How-to-love is no different. What I’m selling is a “way'” of being that is not altogether new, although it’s has a nuance that is.
For me, love’s language is sign, because when you love someone that person knows it no matter how you show it–whether you use your “love language” or theirs. The look in your eye translates your love into a special feeling of joy. The sign of love is experienced, and it’s unmistakably love.
It’s selfish to demand that someone love us according to a language that he or she may not necessarily speak; it’s quite loving, though, to accept the offering graciously without judgment. I got it: your child gives you a picture with a note for Mother or Father’s Day with misspelled words and coloring way out of the bounds of the disfigured heart. Instead of lovingly adoring the gift, you offer corrections/criticisms. This is what I mean by accepting a gift of love regardless of the language that it’s wrapped. Do you suppose your 3-year-old reads love in the sign-language of your actions?
Love then is radical acceptance. You accept the kindness as an act of love, period, without specifications. And your acceptance is a reciprocal act of love, period. This is knowing how to love in circularity–it comes and it goes in a moment.
MLK, Jr. was assassinated over 52 years ago, but I’m guessing that Sunday morning in the US is still the most segregated time of our week. It’s interesting that on some level, we still purport to be a Christian nation, “one nation under God,” right? But, many of us have yet to experience the freedom that the framers of the Constitution lauded. My question then is what have we been doing after centuries of sermons on love. And how is it that the love of God has not transformed our nation since it’s inception? After Sunday, are we expected to treat “others” any differently than before Sunday? Or is what we do on Sunday morning, a show, even a pretense that we comprehend what it means to love sacrificially? Instead, nothing has changed in how we show our love to others. I guess a new question would be “why the pretense since we are free to fear and hate and other; we are free to kill and steal without remorse and accountability. And so we mourn for and long for a country where our world is changed after Sunday. There is a more excellent way–how to love is it.
The truth of the matter is that to love radically is to be able to
question one’s own sense of truth in favor of the relationship. I’ve got to ask
at what cost does one let go of a negligible truth. Your decision is to determine if the
relationship is worthy of your sacrifice.