Growing Love at Home

The essence of love is to honor the needs and wishes of our loved one before our own. That tickly feeling around our hearts is not love, only the symptom of it.

In this "me" generation, love and selfishness have changed places. Many of us feel that love is the satisfaction of my emotional and physical needs. Not so; that is selfishness. We need a new understanding of loving others through serving them.

We all want our homes to be filled with love. Every newlywed envisions his or her bridal home as a place where needs are met, courtesy abounds, affection flourishes, and understanding and intimacy grow. Each envisions a perfect world. Unfortunately, those visions of perfection often clash.

When a baby arrives in the new home, the parents want their child to grow into a perfect person: affectionate, courteous, charming. It doesn't take many days before this vision is shattered, too. We find we have given birth to a selfish little sinner!

We want our children to be loving toward us and toward others. How can we help them to grow into affectionate and giving adults? Here are some thoughts that may help.

Be a lover.

Loving children develop from loving parents. If we don't discipline ourselves to think of others first, our children will be unlikely to develop the habit. Children learn from examples, especially parental examples. We can be true examples of how to love only when our lives are God-centered. "God is love" (1 John 4: 8,16). When God's love fills us, His love will overflow to our mates and our children.

Listen.

The first responsibility of love is to listen. Listening goes beyond merely hearing. Listening requires intention--purposely hearing what is important to our spouse or child. Eye contact, or taking the loved one's hand, helps him know we are listening. We don't feel listened to when the person we are talking to continues working and says only, "Uh huh," or, "Uh uh!" Every person needs to be really listened to and understood by at least one other person. Let that one other person be you!

Touch the person you love.

Jesus did. In some way, He touched people that He healed. He took the children in His arms when He blessed them (Mark 10:16) and "put his hands on them." Perhaps we should ask ourselves, "How hungry to be touched is my family? Do we touch one another in nonsexual ways that meaningfully satisfy our need for touch?"

Give compliments.

All of us like to be commended. Praise expands our idea of ourselves and makes us feel we are better people. If our outlook is "other-oriented," complimenting family members will become the norm, and they may praise you back! Let us praise loudly, but blame softly.

With a little extra effort, we will soon be growing love at home.