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February was the month for loving… purposefully…

To continue my year of living purposefully, I set out to love with a purpose in February.

Loving is sometimes too easy.  The word ‘love’ is often overused and even misused.  Loving purposefully can actually be a challenge.

In February we think of Valentine’s Day, and our sweethearts.  So I will start here.  I have been married for almost 14 years.  We dated for four years prior to that.  So as a loving couple, we have 18 years under our belt.  This makes loving easy.  Too easy.  It is easy to fall into a comfortable pattern of “love” with our spouse.  We say the words, share house and child duties, and give cards on Valentine’s Day.  Although this is loving, it is also somewhat programmed.  It is formulaic.  Instant love.  Add water and shake.

How can we love purposefully?  I had the added challenge of choosing love this month because it is also ‘tax-season.’  When you are married to a tax accountant, you get used to being single for a couple months of the year.  These are those months!  But this year I have started working in our office alongside my husband.  And all of this combined makes it even more important to spend time being purposeful about our love.

I have found that working with my husband has given me a new respect for him.  I am in awe of how strong and knowledgeable he is at the office.  He is supporting our lives, both present and future, by building a successful business.

Our lunches together are such an added blessing.  Whether we just eat sandwiches from home in the break room, or sneak out to a restaurant, it is time together without our kids that we’ve not had in years.

It’s easy to love the lovable.

How do you purposefully love the unlovable?

What about those people in our lives that hurt us?  Or rub us the wrong way?

I started by praying for these people in my life:  The people who aren’t joy-bringers and aren’t building me up.  I soon found that my prayers were self-serving.  They weren’t at all loving.  It felt like a self righteous inner speech, “look at me, I’m so much better than that person I’m even praying for him.”  This isn’t loving.  This is a dreadful misuse of prayer and does more harm than good.

This month I thought a lot about how to better love those who I haven’t felt loved by.  I realized that to really love them, I have to start by looking at my culpability in the relationship.  Where is my blame in the situation.  What is the other side of the story.  Can I love them from their side of the situation.  If this person rubs me the wrong way with every word out of his mouth, what are my weaknesses that his words are tapping into?  Only then can I admit that this person too is a child of God and I have to set aside my feelings and love them instead of focus on my discomfort or dislike.

Lastly, I focused on the love I have for my children.  I love my children as much as one person can possibly love another.  Sometimes, I am even convinced that I must certainly love my children more than other parents love theirs.  How can everyone feel love this way?

But, loving them means loving all of them.  Even the icky, snotty, back-talking, bickering, selfish, unmotivated bits.  And it means loving them for who they ARE not who I want them to BE.

My children are perfectly average.  They bring home good grades.  They enjoy their extra curricular activities.  But they aren’t stars.  They aren’t the most motivated beings to walk the earth, but then again, neither am I.

Loving my children means loving B’s and sometimes C’s.  It means loving dance performances where some of the moves are wrong, or in the wrong direction.  It means loving missed baskets and kids who aren’t eating lunch at the ‘popular’ table.  It means loving imperfections and seeing that sometimes those flaws are actually beauty marks of their souls.  Some of the traits that will make them amazing as adults just might be the things that make me cringe now.

I’ve learned it takes time, patience, and practice to love purposefully.  Go try it!

What you’ve missed this year:

January

Coming in March: Purposefully Caring for Others

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