Love – unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. This is one of many definitions found in the dictionary, most of which dealt with defining love as a feeling. Love is an action, a choice that is made even when feelings don’t line up. So how do we make the choice to love when we really don’t feel like it?
Loving on purpose is something that, as Christians, we are called to do, and as parents, something we must teach our children. In a society where the feeling of love is as fleeting as a snowflake swirling in the wind, here one moment and gone the next, how do we model the action of love? As we begin this new year, what better time than now to learn to love on purpose. But how do we do that? Best selling author and teacher Joyce Meyer gives these suggestions in her article “Purposeful Acts of Kindness” (2016).
“You may be convinced you don’t have anything to give. Maybe you are in debt, doing your best to pay your bills, and the thought of giving to others is almost irritating or makes you sad because you want to give but don’t see how you can. However, there are literally thousands of ways you can give and spread love if you will search for them aggressively…
- When it’s obvious that someone else wants the same parking space you want, let them have it and do it with a smile.
- Mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn or shovel snow for them.
- Clean an elderly person’s house or offer to do the grocery shopping.
- Give someone without transportation a ride to church or another event, even if it’s out of your way.
- Truly listen to someone without interrupting.
- Be a polite driver.
- Hold a door open for a stranger and let them go ahead of you.”
These are just a few of many, many examples. Our children need to see how we as adults find ways to love people through action. Society has perpetuated the notion that love is just a feeling that comes and goes, that love as an action is a completely foreign concept or something that does not exist. And it is easy to fall into daily habits or become absorbed in our busyness that we miss ways to love intentionally, yet God calls us to do everything in love (1 Cor. 16:14).
We should be looking for opportunities to model love to our children. It does my heart so much joy to see my daughter hold the door open for someone at the store and not complain when five more people walk through. And to know she does it without any expectations in return, but simply to be kind and show love. So let us be intentionally aware of those around us; to give ourselves and our children opportunities to love on purpose. We may never know what tiny gesture can make the biggest impact on someone else’s life.