It seems that loving someone and letting someone know you love them are not always the same thing. Sometimes letting someone know you care is a big part of a relationship, telling them and showing them you love them, and sometimes love is more obviously stated in what you don’t do. Sometimes the most loving thing is to say nothing at all, and let someone go, giving them the space they need to grow, move on with their lives, and continue to learn how to love.
Someone asked me the other day how to love people, how to live your life in a loving way, doing your best and giving the most to everyone you encounter in your life. I responded that basically, we go through our lives interacting with people in a myriad of settings and ways, and creating a guidebook for how to love people in every specific situation is not possible… and I made attempts to explain how I loved in my life with explanations of daily interactions and such.
I think it was said best however, by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13 verse 4-8:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
If I had recalled this exact quote at the time I was speaking to my friend, it probably would have been helpful. These words are certainly more rich than my lines about meeting people on the street and being pleasant, or making time to play with my niece, unknowingly using personal experiences to try to explain what scripture had already covered. Playing with a four year old requires patience and kindness, seeing their delight in simple things like throwing a frisbee back and forth, and patiently teaching them the proper throwing methods (to the best of your poor abilities), these things require love. Simply stating that playing with your niece is love, gives people a relatable reference, but the scripture really explains the why.
At any rate, my explanation seemed to help my friend, and provided me with some good reflection on my life as of late, and I think it is eventually what spurred me to write this post. The beautiful, complicated, and yet somehow simple process of just being the best you can be at every moment, and living a life more for others than yourself…Which is really ultimately living for yourself because living to love is the best reason to live.