Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. (James 2:8 CSB)
Have you ever watched someone with low self-esteem or insecurities hang their heads? Or the cashier whose line is long and customers patience short? By the time you get ready to pay, he won’t even look you in the eye. Or how about the young Mom with one in the cart, one on the hip and one in the oven whose “free one” is throwing a tantrum in the cereal aisle? Do you roll your eyes? Judge?
How do we love those with whom we disagree? Who are different than us? What about the playground bully? Or disgruntled colleague? Or online adversary?
Love one another is a simple yet profound theology.
When I was a little girl, my Grandfather would often lift my face to look at his just so I could see into the eyes of someone who cared, someone who loved me deeper than the oceans.
We all have a Father who is a lifter of heads, One who lifts our faces to look at His so we can see someone who cares. (Psalm 3:3)
I want to love people well. I want to be a lifter of faces too.
How do we do this? How do we love our neighbor? How do we love ourselves? How do we do it well?
Using the acronym FACE LIFT, here’s how:
Forgive. If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. (Mother Theresa)
I’m not asking you to move in, hang out, be friends, or associate with someone who has wronged you, hurt you, bullied you, or otherwise. I’m saying forgiveness is a decision you make that frees you from being connected to the person you are forgiving. Forgiving them is loving yourself well.
Maybe it’s yourself you need to forgive. You cannot move forward in the fullness of who you are meant to be until you accept your own apology.
Ask. Before you judge instead of love, ask yourself the what ifs. What if this were me? What if this were my child? What if this were my spouse? Coworker? Best friend? Young Mom? Cashier? Neighbor across the street?
There is a difference between good judgment and living in judgment.
Putting ourselves in the shoes of others often make us realize their journey is harder to walk than we thought.
Care. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. (Elie Wiesel)
Indifference: Lack of interest or concern.
We’ve become a culture who has become so immune to the fact that we are all imago dei, made in the image of God that we miss many opportunities to love.
We’re more interested in being heard (loudly)…can’t you just hear those keys tapping out a response to those we disagree with on FaceBook because everybody knows letting everyone know OUR opinion about what this idiot thinks is important. Hint: that’s not loving anybody well.
We are concerned alright, about being right. And if you disagree, well, then, we obviously cannot care about each other. Sigh…
How did we get here?
Loving others well, is caring, being interested, showing concern, no matter if someone disagrees with you, looks different than you, thinks different than you, all are made in God’s image.
Engage in diverse, meaningful relationships. Nothing says love louder than striking up purposeful friendships with those who are not like you! Being able to ask questions, finding out the who’s, what’s and why’s of a different culture, seeing life through someone else’s lens is a beautiful way of walking a path different than your own.
Love comes from understanding. Understanding comes from learning. Learning comes from engaging.
Listen to learn not to give a defense or be ready with a response. I can’t hear you if my mind is articulating what it wants to say.
Listen is such an ordinary little word that we pass by it pretty quickly as a way to love someone. But who hasn’t, at one time or another not felt heard? What did that feel like? Certainly not like being loved.
Listening to someone’s story is a sacred space, a holy place that needs room to simply be heard.
Want to love someone well? Shut your mouth, open your ears and listen.
Identify your own blind spots. We all have them. Those areas with deep roots that pave the way for how you think, how you act, how you treat others. It may not be your hands that planted the seeds but it is your responsibility to dig out the weeds.
We can’t love others well with roots of shame and hurt.
We can’t love others well with roots of racism and bigotry.
We can’t love others well with roots of silver spoons or a poverty mentality.
We can’t love others well with roots of unforgiveness or anger.
My view of others is skewed by my own weeds and roots. Your view of others is skewed by your own weed and roots.
Have an honest conversation with yourself about your blind spots so you can see others as God see them.
Free others to be themselves. This can be twofold:
One: we need to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders and number one fans! Don’t hold someone back because of your own jealousy, fear or immaturity. Loving others well says, “Go for it!” “You can do this!”
Two: sometimes we need to let go and walk away because no matter how hard you try, the leopard cannot change its spots. So, be free! Go be a leopard at someone else’s house. That’s loving yourself well. And that’s okay to need to do…for you.
Tune in to your surroundings. We can’t love what we don’t notice. We don’t notice what we don’t pay attention to.
Put your phone down (guilty over here!) and see the person in front of your face. That cashier who had his head down? Be kind instead of flustered. That young Mom with a cart full of kids and handful of groceries? Help her out to her car.
How about that person who disagrees with you? What if you said, that’s an interesting view point. How did you come to that conclusion? Then zip your lip and listen.
What about the people under your very own roof? How are you loving them well? What do they need? That surly teenager may have just bombed a big test. Can you tell him he is more than a grade in a gradebook? How about your spouse? Is her mood because of you or because she’s not been able to have one moments peace or pee by herself all day long? What can you do for her to love her well? (Hint: it probably has nothing to do with lingerie…)
Tune in to ways you can lift someone else’s face.
Give someone a Face Lift and love them well!