In a world full of consumerism, self-promotion, and aggrandizement, what does it mean to “genuinely love” someone?
Genuine love is not a love that uses other people or just has people in their life – where they can make a profit from them. Genuine love forgets the self – and is fully present for the other, for the sake of the other. Genuine love gives of its time, effort and energy for the sake of the other, not for the sake of the self. In genuine love, you care for the other for the sake of caring for them. People are present in your life because you care about them and their well-being. Genuine love is patient and understanding; it approaches the other with love. It does not have a usury mentality. It is tender, merciful, and encouraging, even in times when it offers constructive criticism. Genuine love never points back to itself, but always points back to the one who is loved. Genuine love does not just have people in their life for self-promotion, or to better their self-esteem, or for their own self-interest or self-worth. People who genuinely love others have the people that are in their life because they care about them and love them. People who genuinely love each other show it, express it, and cherish it, without expecting something in return. They give of themself merely to give of themself. They do not have ulterior motives. They are genuine and true. They are authentic.
So, in a consumeristic culture, how do we become more genuinely loving?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help uncover the answer and some tips to help you to grow (recognize we are all guilty of some of these things at one point in time or another):
- What are the reasons why you have the relationships in your life that you have? Look at each relationship, and see what your motives are that back that relationship. Are any of them grounded in self-centeredness? If so, how can you change your self-centeredness to other-centeredness?
- How frequently do you talk about yourself and promote yourself instead of encouraging others and promoting others? How frequently do you ask about how someone else is? How genuinely caring for someone are you or loving of someone are you? How can you begin to change this?
- How easy is it for you to see the good in others, and where and when do you tell others how much you really appreciate them and care about them?
- If you were to die tomorrow, who would you tell that you love them? Remember your time here on this earth is short. How are you using your life to love others, or to show love to others? How are you telling and showing those closest to you that you love them?
- Where is your tenderness and how do you show others tenderness matters?
- What are your words saying, and how are you saying them? Where are you uplifting or bringing someone down or putting someone down?
- How many times do you mumble under your breath, complain about someone, or gossip about someone and what would you do if they were standing right behind you and heard you saying whatever you are saying (this includes your children if you have them)? Why do you have the feelings that you have in relation to this person, and are your feelings/complaints legit (are you being treated unjustly, etc.)? Have you tried to talk to the people involved about whatever you worry or concern is or how you are hurt or upset about what is going on that has caused you to complain, mumble, or gossip? How can you decrease complaining, or gossiping about others in your life? How can you change your thought pattern to a positive one?
- Why do you have the people present in your life that you have in your life? Is it for your self-promotion, or your own self-interest or for their good?
- How can you be more kind and caring towards others today?
- What is the posture of your heart on a weekly and a daily basis? how frequently do you check in with yourself to see if your heart is in the right place before you say something or do something?
- What are some things you know you need to work on to improve your relationships with other people and have them be heart centered instead of self-centered? What about the relationships with those closest to you (your significant other, children, family, etc.)?
- How can you be more genuine and authentic with people, and allow your true self to be seen? While you are doing this, how are you witnessing to “genuine love” and showing that to others, as you speak your truth?